As news arrives from the Metropolitan Police that the number of officers working on historic child sex abuse allegations has been tripled, the hunt is on for information. Yes, as with The Prisoner, their mantra will be “We Want ... Information”, and woe betide anyone who replies “You won’t get it”. But where will they find it? Well, 1983 is not so far back in the dim and distant past.
The year when Mrs T was returned to power in a landslide, but with only 42.4% of the popular vote, may have been 31 years ago, but some journalists who were active at the time are still around. And, looking through Ian Pace’s long blogpost on 1980s paedophiles, illustrated with many clippings from newspapers, some names positively leap from the pages. So why don’t they come forward?
Some of Geoffrey Dickens’ allegations concerned those in Parliament. And who was a legendary lobby correspondent at the time, awarded a CBE at Margaret Thatcher’s request? Step forward Chris Moncrieff, still occasionally writing and certainly still around. He and his colleagues may not have evidential standard information, but if something was happening, they will have heard of it.
Former BBC Political Editor Robin Oakley, at the Times in the late 80s, is another journalist still active who reported on events at the time. Craig Brown, best-known for his Private Eye “as told to” Diary column, was a Parliamentary sketchwriter. Alan Travis, then as now reporting for the Guardian, has, by coincidence, written today on the Government’s new surveillance law.
Other notable names reporting on child abuse debates in the 80s include Henry Porter of the Observer, and Ian Aitken and Martin Wainwright of the Guardian. Even current Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger’s name appears on one by-line. But three of the names that stand out, and who are still around, would most likely be more useful to the Met’s finest, if only because of their tabloid background.
One of these, Alex Marunchak, worked for the now-defunct Screws, and has been arrested recently along with private investigator Jonathan Rees on computer misuse issues. The murder of Rees’ former business partner Daniel Morgan, in the car park of a south London pub, remains unsolved to this day. Meanwhile, over at the Daily Star, an even better-known name was at work.
Step forward Neil “Wolfman” Wallis, who has been doing the rounds of the TV and radio studios recently telling everyone how wonderful Andy Coulson is. So how about he let the cops know what’s in his notebooks from the 80s. And while he’s at it, he could take along Trevor Kavanagh of the Sun, another name to feature among Pace’s cuttings. They were around at the time – what did they hear?
It is surely time for all these good men to come to the aid of the party.