A COUNCIL investigation is being launched in Worcestershire into possible paedophile activity - amid fears perpetrators could have been protected by an "establishment cover-up" in the county.
Your Worcester News can reveal how politicians at Worcestershire County Council are becoming increasingly concerned about allegations made by a former in-house director of social services about a powerful paedophile network with links to Westminster.
David Tombs worked for the old Hereford and Worcester County Council for 20 years as its director of social services until 1994, and claims that in the early 1990s his concerns had been brushed off.
The county council has now taken the unprecedented step to contact all 57 of its councillors to say it is "not aware of anyone" employed by the authority today accused of any wrongdoing or implicated in the current national investigation.
But your Worcester News can reveal how the council's main watchdog, the overview and scrutiny board, has now asked Mr Tombs to return to County Hall to offer any evidence he has on historic child abuse allegations.
The board has also summed Gail Quinton, the current director of social services, to appear and answer questions.
Mr Tombs said following the arrest of former consultant to the National Children’s Bureau and convicted Evesham paedophile Peter Righton, he told the Department of Health he believed a paedophilic network had been in operation in Whitehall, but claimed these warnings had been ignored.
Righton, who died in 2007, was a social work expert and the founder of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), before he was convicted of importing child pornography in 1992.
Mr Tombs, now 81 and of Ledbury, said: "I went to the Department (of Health) because I was concerned that some of the names that came from the police investigation in Evesham related to people in my own authority and it seemed to me that there was a serious issue that would have been of national concern.
"It was coming across to me at the time that there were names there that were linked into the establishment if you like, and I had no particular names, but that was the impression I was getting.
"And I felt that the Government needed to be alert to it and I wanted to raise awareness of this with people who were much closer to policy making that I was."
Mr Tombs added: "I was disappointed because I was told that I was probably wasting my time, that there were – and the words used were along these lines – that there were too many of them over there.
"Now, I was talking about paedophilia.
"I was in the Department of Health and the ‘over there’ to me indicated, although the words weren’t used, within parliament or within Government and Whitehall."
Councillor Richard Udall, who chairs the scrutiny board, said: "Members from across the political spectrum are concerned about what happened in the past and want to ensure no cover-up occurred in Worcestershire.
"If Mr Tombs is willing to share his concerns with us we will be able to have a better understanding about what happened, when it happened and more importantly who knew about it.
"We believe this to be a major concern to the public - we need to know what information is known and that no perpetrators have been protected by an establishment cover-up in Worcestershire".
The duo are expected to appear before the board on Wednesday, September 17.
WHAT THE COUNCIL SAY
A statement has been issued by Worcestershire County Council, saying the following.
"As a result of recent press coverage we have received some queries regarding historical child protection allegations relating to Peter Righton.
"These queries relate to historic multi-agency abuse investigations assisted by the former Hereford & Worcester County Council which existed until local government reorganisation on 1 April 1998.
"In 1992 concerns came to light about Peter Righton, a teacher who worked at a number of residential schools across the country.
"Mr Righton had addresses in London and Evesham but he was not employed by Hereford and Worcester County Council.
"It is a matter of public record that his home was raided and boxes of letters, diaries and photographs were removed by the police. Peter Righton was subsequently convicted of child pornography offences.
"We understand that Child Protection officers, employed by the then Hereford & Worcester County Council, took part in a joint investigation with the police, covering several counties.
"The director of social services for Hereford & Worcester County Council at that time, David Tombs, was involved in co-coordinating the council element of that investigation and the lead Child Protection Officer was Peter McKelvie.
"Hereford and Worcester County Council shared information from the investigation with the Social Services Inspectorate.
"From the information on record, there is no evidence of any involvement of anyone linked to Herefordshire Council or Worcestershire County Council and we are not aware of anyone connected with either Council implicated in this investigation."