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Notorious paedophile gang ‘could have covered up 17 child murders and be linked to VIP guest house’

Notorious paedophile gang ‘could have covered up 17 child murders and be linked to VIP guest house’

The detective who led the investigation into Britain’s most notorious child abusers has claimed there could be another 17 unsolved murders at the hands of the paedophile gang and links to the VIP, Elm Guest House.

The Mail Online reports:- Former Scotland Yard detective Roger Stoodley also believes investigation files relating to the group – which abducted, abused and murdered children during the 1980s – could contain vital evidence about a VIP paedophile ring which allegedly abused boys at a London guest house.

Under Operation Orchid, Mr Stoodley helped expose the murders of three children by a gang of paedophiles, of which fairground worker Sidney Cooke was one of the ringleaders.

The victims were Jason Swift, 14, six-year-old Barry Lewis and Mark Tildesley, seven

But detectives believed at the time that as many as 17 other abductions and murders were connected to the notorious gang.

Mr Stoodley said detectives worked on the premise that there were 20 victims involved in Cooke’s gang, but that only three were established.

‘It seems unbelievable but we were told there may have been twenty paedophile murders,’ he said. ‘We proved there were three and there may have been more. There are potentially 17 unsolved murders.’

Detectives at the time also investigated links between Cooke’s group and the Elm Guest House in Barnes – where it is alleged politicians and other VIPs attacked and abused children – but could not find a link.

Scotland Yard last week launched a new probe into the possibility of murders linked to the guest house, which is at the centre of the inquiry into the establishment paedophile conspiracy.

Mr Stoodley told the Times: ‘The Orchid files – if they still exist – could hold the key to renewed concerns over the handling of police investigations into two child abductions.

‘Elm Guest House came up in our inquiry but it was not within our remit at the time. It is in our system but we could not establish a link with Cooke.’

Mr Stoodley believes the connection may have been through Leonard Smith, one of Cooke’s accomplices, who may have been a male prostitute at Elm Guest House.

He said: ‘We had reason to believe he could have gone there in the past, but Smith would never cooperate with us. He refused to speak. He would always just say “no comment”. And he is dead now.’

He added: ‘The lot we put away were dirty, disgusting individuals. I don’t think their paths would ever have crossed with those visiting Elm Guest House because they moved in different circles.’

Yesterday, the families of eight-year-old Vishal Mehrotra, who was abducted and murdered in 1981, and Martin Allen, 15, who disappeared in 1979, called on the Metropolitan Police to see whether the two rings are connected.

Mehrotra, 69, a retired magistrate, said a male prostitute told him that Vishal was taken to the Elm Guest House where high-profile abusers attacked children.

Mr Mehota recorded the conversation but when he presented police with the evidence, Scotland Yard ‘pooh poohed’ it and failed to investigate, he alleged.

The skull and several rib bones of Vishal were discovered in 1982 by pigeon shooters in remote marshland at Durford Abbey Farm, at Rogate, close to the Hampshire-West Sussex border.

Vishal, from Putney, south-west London, had vanished while shopping with his nanny and sister on July 29, 1981 – the same day Lady Diana Spencer and the Prince of Wales were married.

In June 1982, four months after Vishal’s remains were found, police raided the Elm Guest House and it was widely reported at the time that the raids were linked to the boy’s disappearance.

Mr Stoodley said the disappearances of Vishal and Martin ‘matched the modus operandi’ of Cooke and his associates.

Cooke’s gang worked by luring boys away while they were walking on their own. They also groomed them for abuse.

Operation Orchid, which was wound up shortly after Mr Stoodley retired in 1992, resulted in Cooke serving two life sentences for sexual abuse.