Top Liberal Democrat politicians and the most senior official in charge of social services in the London borough of Richmond appear to have been struck dumb by an extraordinary outbreak of amnesia over the rapidly enfolding child abuse scandal 30 years ago.
Contacted by myself and my colleagues at Exaro News prominent Lib SDP councillors at the time Lord Razzall, Baroness Tonge, Sir David Williams, and former social services director Louis Minster, traced by Exaro colleague Mark Conrad to retirement in Malta, don’t seem to remember a thing about it.His interview by Mark and Alison Winward is at http://bit.ly/Y2xnzk 81 year old Mr Minster – who is following the police investigation on the internet – told Mark:” There no inquiries[into suspected child abuse] at all.”
In a piece by me, Mark, Nick Fielding and David Pallister on Exaro News(http://bit.ly/YQVguO) it is revealed that Richmond Council held a rare extraordinary general meeting in private session to discuss the premature retirement of Louis Minster.
This came a year after the then Liberal SDP coalition came into office and two years after the police raid on Elm Guest House in Barnes.
Exatraorinarily Lord Razzall, who went on to be the Liberal Democrat treasurer and is business spokesman for the party in the Lords, can’t remember anything about it.
Sir David Williams, former lb dem leader of Richmond Council – pic courtesy: richmond.gov.ukYet the minutes of that meeting show that he and Sir David Williams, then leader of the council, proposed a motion both to end the career of Louis Minster, and for the meeting to be held in private.
Razzall, ”I have no recollection. All I know is that he left shortly after we took control of the council.”
He was unable to say why the council held an emergency meeting to sack a senior officer who had clashed with political leaders.
He said: “The only recollection I have, as is so often the case when a new political party takes over, the senior executives leave if the relationship with the new management is not working.
“I have no recollection of extraordinary meetings, or indeed why there was an extraordinary meeting.”
Sir David who doubts there was any child abuse in Richmond thought they had discovered Louis Minster did not have the right qualifications.
Louis Minster himself has disclosed he was paid off with a £10,000 golden handshake and is still bitter about it all.
While Baroness Tonge,who chaired the social services committee at the time and is known for her ability to speak her mind, is totally silent.
One has to ask how such a prominent police raid in 1982 – it made the front page of the News of the World- appears to have passed without comment in Richmond .
If as they say they knew nothing about it and the police prove there was child abuse, Richmond Council will have a lot of questions to explain why they knew nothing about this.
The case for an inquiry into the running of Richmond Council at the time will be compelling if people are prosecuted by the Met Police. Particularly as I have now had confirmation from a source that a payout was made to a child abused under Richmond’s care for compensation after the event.