Detectives investigating historic claims of child abuse linked to Elm Guest House and the Grafton Close care home in London arrest two men on suspicion of sexual offences.

The arrests of the men, one age 66 from Norfolk and the other aged 70 from east Sussex, were made as part of Operation Fernbridge, which was launched after concerns were raised by MP Tom Watson.

Speaking in Parliament in October last year, he said that a file of evidence used to convict Peter Righton of importing child pornography in 1992 contained "clear intelligence" of a sex abuse gang.

Mr Watson alleged that a member of the group had bragged about links with a senior aide to a former prime minister.

Today Commander Peter Spindler from the Metropolitan Police said: "This is a complex multi-agency investigation supported by the NSPCC, Ceop and Richmond Social Services involving non-recent allegations of sexual assault against children.

"It is vital that anyone who has been affected by or has information about activity in the early 1980s at the Elm Guest House, or the Grafton Close care home, in Barnes speaks to the NSPCC on their helpline on 0808 800 5000, or their local police."

NSPCC helpline director Peter Watt said: "It's important we recognise the massive impact abuse has on children and young people, often well into their adult life."

A spokesman for Richmond Council, which ran the care home, said: "Richmond Council considers the safeguarding of all children and young people as an utmost priority and we take any allegations of abuse very seriously.

"As such we are offering our full support and co-operation to the police during their investigation. As the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."

Responding to a report by the Sunday People that the 66-year-old man arrested in Norfolk is a Catholic priest, Father Mark Hackeson from the Diocese of East Anglia said: "The church diocese takes safeguarding of children very seriously and so we will be co-operating fully in any way with the police investigation."

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