ThamesHouse.Net has obtained the release of previously secret files under the Freedom of Information Act, documenting paedophile offences by the former Tory MP Viscount Hinchingbrooke, known latterly as Victor Montagu after disclaiming the title Earl of Sandwich. Several newspapers this weekend have reported parts of the story, which began with our Freedom of Information Act request on 5th February this year. During the next fortnight we will examine the shocking story of a paedophile cover-up.
Prime Minister Harold Macmillan described him as “a very old friend of many years standing”.
In the 1940s he was the leading “moderniser” among young Tory MPs, founding the Tory Reform Committee.
By the 1950s he was a maverick backbencher, and key conspirator in the disastrous secret manoeuvres which led to Britain’s greatest foreign policy disaster at Suez.
At the end of his political life he was among the most prominent Conservative anti-Europeans, serving as President of the Anti-Common Market League (predecessor of UKIP) for more than twenty years – after telling an American television interviewer at the time of Britain’s first application to join Europe in 1962: “those of us in Britain who oppose the Common Market don’t want to subject ourselves to a lot of frogs and huns.”
Yet Victor Montagu, Viscount Hinchingbrooke – a pillar of the establishment who became 10th Earl of Sandwich in 1962 – was known to the police as a paedophile who abused a 9-year-old boy.
On 24th November 1972 the Chief Constable of Dorset, Arthur Hambleton, sent a file of evidence to the Director of Public Prosecutions regarding “a number of alleged indecent assaults” by Victor Montagu, who had been Conservative MP for South Dorset from 1941 until 1962.
Hambleton asked for the DPP’s advice as to whether Montagu should be prosecuted.
Handwritten notes in the file record deliberations at the DPP’s office, noting:
“Montagu has admitted virtually all that the boy says, but says that there was no sex in it – at 66 he is past sex. The assault consisted in the main of romping and wrestling in the nude, but there were occasions when Montagu kissed the boy’s penis.”
The following section of the notes has been redacted, but they conclude:
“Borderline – but with a man of previous good character, and no fear of repetition with this boy, I think we could caution.”
So a few days later came the reply, which will shock readers today:
“…In my opinion this case can properly be dealt with by way of a caution. The assaults, which are admitted, are not of themselves very serious, and if Mr Montagu is prepared to take the excellent advice given to him by Detective Chief Inspector Newman and avoid any contact with the boy in the future I do not think that proceedings are called for.”
A caution was duly issued. Montagu escaped prosecution and continued his political roles, including President of the Anti-Common Market League. He died in 1995 aged 88. His eldest son John remains in the House of Lords, inheriting the earldom his father had disclaimed in 1964 when attempting to resume his Commons career.
Until this week, even his own family knew nothing of the police interviews, though last year Victor Montagu’s youngest son Robert wrote of his own abuse at his father’s hands when aged between 7 and 11.
Next week we will post further analysis of the Montagu File, examining the background of this establishment paedophile and calling for the present enquiry under Lord Justice Goddard to investigate grave security implications.