Even the Mail has run a feature on developments: the Metropolitan Police have now launched Operation Fernbridge, into the alleged historic abuse of children at the former Elm Guest House in Barnes. This investigation had its genesis in the Commons intervention by Labour MP Tom Watson last October, in which he urged the re-opening of the file on child care consultant Peter Righton.
So, while much of the Fourth Estate was wrongly, and probably maliciously, telling its readership that Watson was behind the Alistair McAlpine saga, a small group of Met officers were poring over the evidence on Elm Guest House, in a building in Earl’s Court, well away from New Scotland Yard. What they found passed “the threshold for a criminal investigation”.
Which means that, contrary to what the Mail’s hacks were saying, there is no North Wales connection this time, there is probably no connection to the late Peter Morrison, it is nothing to do with Jimmy Savile, and it is most certainly not, as Andrew Pierce vehemently asserted, to do with the fuelling of rumours. Moreover, it doesn’t just have the potential to hurt the Tory Party.
So where has the investigative journalism come from to drive the reporting of these developments? Not from even the best resourced papers, and certainly not from the loudest part of the blogosphere, but from a recent start-up called Exaro News, and more specifically from former Guardian man David Hencke, who has told this week of yet more developments in the Elm Guest House case.
The Met raided the home of Mary Moss, former organiser of the now defunct National Association of Young People in Care in London. A search warrant had to be obtained, but after Ms Moss considered her position, the Police took away several boxes of documents. More information came from Richmond Council, but it was the haul from Mary Moss that was most important.
After all, here were the names of those who had stayed at Elm Guest House, including MPs and ministers. And Tom Watson may have passed other information to the Met, as Operation Fairbank, launched in the wake of his Commons intervention, remains in place, although what the “other lines of inquiry” means specifically, we do not know.
There have, though, been no apologies or withdrawals from Andrew Pierce, Quentin Letts (let’s not), and Richard Littlejohn of the Daily Mail, or Patrick “Lunchtime” O’Flynn of the Express, nor from the rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who made yet another wrong call on this affair. After all, that would mean admitting they were wrong and Tom Watson was right, and that would never do.
Expect much more from the past of Elm Guest House in the near future.