Brian Altman QC, counsel to the inquiry, said the suggestion Thatcher knew about the allegations but refused to act depended entirely on Stewart’s version of events, an argument MI5’s lawyer appeared to concur with.
MI5 warned then-cabinet secretary Robert Armstrong in 1986 that cabinet minister Peter Morrison had a “penchant for small boys” — but police were not informed, and no investigation was launched.
An internal MI5 memo from November 1986 written by Eliza Manningham-Buller, who later became the agency’s director general, said she’d seen Morrison and his family the previous night for dinner — he’d apparently said prime minister Margaret Thatcher was supporting him, and hoped the press would publish the allegations so he could sue and “nail the lies”.
A police investigation was launched into Smith’s abuse of young boys in 1970, but closed after then-DPP Sir Norman Skelhorn concluded there was not enough evidence to prosecute him. The ruling came despite police warning Smith “sheltered behind a veneer of respectability” and used his position “to indulge in a sordid series of indecent episodes with young boys towards whom he had a special responsibility” — the allegations were moreover said to have “stood up”.