Former home secretary Lord Brittan says he asked officials to look at papers alleging paedophile activity in Westminster, despite telling Channel 4 News in 2013 he could not "recollect" the dossier.

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In 1984, Geoffrey Dickens MP handed over a 50-page dossier to the then home secretary, Leon Brittan, writes Paraic O'Brien.

It is believed that the dossier (which the Home Office confirms has been lost) contained information about suspected VIP paedophile rings and the abuse of boys in care homes.

On 25 February 2013, I sent Leon Brittan an email enquiring about the dossier given to him by Mr Dickens in the early 80s.

Child abuse

In the email, I said: "I'm trying to find a dossier that was given to you by Geoffrey Dickens MP regarding child abuse while you were home secretary. I've been in contact with the Home Office but am not holding out much hope that they will be able to find it."

I went on to ask him whether he had any recollection of the dossier. Half an hour later, Lord Brittan replied by email. He wrote: "I'm afraid I do not recollect this and do not have any records which would be of assistance, Leon Brittan."

But today the Tory peer issued a statement after Labour MP Simon Danczuk said he should "share his knowledge" about the file prepared by Mr Dickens.

Paedophile Information Exchange

Mr Danczuk was giving evidence to the home affairs select committee on Tuesday. According to Mr Danczuk, it contained information about the "Paedophile Information Exchange (Pie), about paedophiles operating a network within and around Westminster".

In the statement on Wednesday, Leon Brittan displays a remarkably vivid recollection of having received the dossier: "During my time as home secretary (1983 to 1985), Geoff Dickens MP arranged to see me at the Home Office.

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"I invariably agreed to see any MP who requested a meeting with me. As I recall, he came to my room at the Home Office with a substantial bundle of papers.

'Looked at carefully'

"As is normal practice, my private secretary would have been present at the meeting. I told Mr Dickens that I would ensure that the papers were looked at carefully by the Home Office and acted on as necessary.

"Following the meeting, I asked my officials to look carefully at the material contained in the papers provided and report back to me if they considered that any action needed to be taken by the Home Office.

"In addition I asked my officials to consider a referral to another government department, such as the Attorney General's department, if that was appropriate.

"This was the normal procedure for handling material presented to the home secretary. I do not recall being contacted further about these matters by Home Office officials or by Mr Dickens or by anyone else."

Further clarification

However, Lord Brittan later issued a second statement, admitting he had mis-remembered events, stating: "In the last hour I have been alerted to a Home Office independent review conducted last year into what information it received about organised child sex abuse between 1979 and 1999,"

The statement added: "a letter was sent from myself to Mr Dickens on March 20, 1984 explaining what had been done in relation to the files.
"The Home Office independent review is entirely consistent with the action I set out in my earlier statement. Whilst I could not recall what further action was taken 30 years ago, the information contained in this report shows that appropriate action and follow-up happened."