The excellent Exaro News site continues to delve into the murky world of historic child abuse in the UK, and especially that involving public figures. Today, former Sunday Mirror editor Paul Connew talks of “stories that got away”, and especially that of former Thatcher confidante Peter Morrison, whose career ended abruptly on Platform 12 at Crewe station in late 1990.
Still no blue plaque, unfortunately
He recalls a Police officer telling his crime reporter that “Peter Morrison, former Parliamentary Private Secretary to Mrs Thatcher when she was Prime Minister, had been arrested after sexually molesting under-age boys in a public lavatory, but it was ‘covered up’ and no charges were brought”. Well, one of Morrison’s arrests may have been, but the one at Crewe was certainly not.
Gyles Brandreth, who succeeded Morrison as MP for the City of Chester, recalls canvassing there in 1991 – as Morrison was already on his way out – and finding “the word on the street was that Peter was ‘a disgusting pervert’. Out canvassing, knocking on doors in the large council estates, we were told that Morrison was a monster who interfered with children”.
Moreover, although Morrison “told me he knew he wouldn’t make it to the cabinet, so he was giving up politics for business. ‘I’m going now while I’ve got time to start another career,’ he told me. ‘I want to make some money’”, Brandreth added “I believed him. But my wife Michele, whose instinct is always good, said she thought he was jumping before he was pushed”. She was probably right.
Although Morrison, a barrister by training, had made what Connew described as “dire legal threats” when confronted by one of the Mirror’s reporters, his habit of going cruising in the Sussex Gardens area of London was well-known. What was described by the late Simon Hoggart in the Guardian would have surprised no-one.
Hoggart was told “After the 1987 general election, around 1990, I attended a meeting of Chester Labour party where we were informed by the agent, Christine Russell, that Peter Morrison would not be standing in 1992. He had been caught in the toilets at Crewe station with a 15-year-old boy. A deal was struck between Labour, the local Tories, the local press and the police that if he stood down at the next election the matter would go no further” by the former head of Chester Trades Council.
That fits with the suspicion of Gyles Brandreth’s wife: Morrison had finally exhausted even the ability of the establishment to look after one of their own. Yes, something was eventually done about Morrison’s behaviour, but of course he was shielded from what would have been a humiliating trial, and most likely a custodial sentence. He died without obtaining a criminal record. As did Jimmy Savile.
And, don’t forget, as the Mail has decreed, Mrs T knew nothing. So there.