[WATCH] Social services head admits being told of abuse allegations

Met Police paedophile unit investigate whether Louis Minster, living in Malta, ignored sexual abuse complaints emanating from Richmond council’s children’s homes

The former Elm Guest House near Barnes, south-west London, where boys in care were allegedly groomed for sex
The former Elm Guest House near Barnes, south-west London, where boys in care were allegedly groomed for sex
Was Richmond social services director aware of child abuse reports?

A former director of social services in the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames admitted with MaltaToday that he was aware of reports of an alleged paedophilia ring during his term in office in the late seventies and early eighties.

To date, Louis Minster, who now lives in Malta, has always denied that he was aware of the alleged sex abuse on boys in care at the Grafton Close, Teddington Park and Rodney Road children’s homes, which were run by the Richmond council.

The 82-year-old told this newspaper: “I have absolutely no involvement at all,” however when asked whether he was aware of the alleged abuse he said, “No…well, yes, through one of my staff.”

Although Minster looked physically frail, making use of an aluminium walking frame to reach the door of his residence in Naxxar, he lucidly replied to the questions put to him.

When pressed on the matter, Minster said, “Listen, I’ll talk to you, leave me your number and I’ll just get my solicitor to be with me.”

Minster was in charge of the council’s social services at the time it is alleged boys from Grafton Close children’s home were taken to Elm Guest House in Barnes and sexually abused by a number of prominent people, including former UK government ministers, senior MPs, senior police officers and people with links to the royal family.

Now living in retirement in Malta, Minster first claimed he had never had heard of the scandal, when first approached by the investigative online journal Exaro last year.

However, investigations show that he was briefed by one of his employees, Terry Earland, head of children’s services, while documentation shows that Minster oddly pulled the file of a 14-year-old boy in care who had knowledge of child abuse at the time.

Earland claims he received complaints of sexual abuse from children and referred them to both police and council staff, but no investigation took place.
Richmond Council records show that the abuse was reported 30 years ago by a boy in care, and his story was corroborated by a friend, but council staff and police decided no further action was required.

Minster twice called up the file on this boy, even after he had left care, an action Earland considered unusual.

Minster was Director of the Social Services Department of the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames from 1975 to 1984 and was the boss of John Stingemore, the head of the home, who was arrested by the police last year.

In 2013, the Metropolitan Police Services’ paedophile unit made a number of arrests under ‘Operation Fernbridge’, which is investigating the alleged child abuse.
Yet, Minster had claimed that he never heard of any allegations of sex abuse at the Elm Guest House despite a police raid in 1982 and the prosecution of the owners a year later.

The Metropolitan Police Services’ paedophile unit has evidence that boys from Grafton Close and two other children’s homes run by the Richmond council were abused at the guest house during Minster’s nine years as head of the borough’s social services.

In comments to Exaro, Minster said: “I have never heard of them,” adding that he only got to know of the news on the internet.

“There was never any…there were a couple of child abuse cases, violence in the families and what have you,” he told the online journal, adding that his staff never approached him with concerns over sexual abuse of children housed in council-run homes.

“This is totally new. 100%, never, never discussed. The whole issue of the guest house was alien until I saw it on the internet last night,” Minster said in February 2013.
Initial investigations started in late 2012 and a full criminal investigation, Operation Fernbridge, was launched in February 2013.

Prominent people who attended parties at Elm Guest House are reported to have included the Liberal MP Cyril Smith and the Soviet spy Anthony Blunt.

According to the UK daily The Independent, other alleged visitors to the guesthouse include the former British diplomat, Sir Peter Hayman, as well as a Sinn Féin politician, a Labour MP, several Conservative politicians, judges and pop stars.

In addition to eight guest rooms, facilities at Elm Guest House included a sauna, solarium and video studio.

The council terminated Minster’s employment in October 1984 and he claims the reasons for his dismissal were entirely political.  

He is believed to have received a £10,000 pay-off and a generous pension and took up a new position in Glasgow training social workers.

Following Minster’s dismissal, the Richmond council secretly paid compensation to a person who was in care at Grafton Lodge, and who was abused at Elm Guest House.

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