Britain’s top cop was an Assistant Chief Constable at Merseyside in 1998 when the force uncovered claims one of Tony Blair’s ministers was a suspected paedophile.
Britain’s top police officer faces being quizzed by his own detectives over claims that police covered up child sex abuse by politicians.
Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe was an Assistant Chief Constable at Merseyside in 1998 when the force uncovered claims one of Tony Blair’s ministers was a suspected paedophile.
A source close to the Operation Care probe has confirmed the team were aware of allegations the minister was suspected of child abuse in Lambeth, South London.
It was “inconceivable” senior Merseyside officers were not aware the politician had come under suspicion, the source said.
But Sir Bernard “does not recall details about the investigation, those suspected or any associated allegations made regarding politicians”, Scotland Yard said.
Although it did confirm Operation Care was one of a number of investigations Sir Bernard “had oversight of” at the time.
The case tops a list released this week of 14 alleged child abuse cover-ups involving politicians being probed by the Met.
The revelation that the man ultimately in charge of the investigation is embroiled in the scandal sparked calls for an outside agency to take over today.
Specialist child abuse lawyer Peter Garsden said: “If Bernard Hogan-Howe is implicated in one of the allegations then there’s clearly a potential conflict of interest and he shouldn’t have anything to do with it.
“The National Crime Agency would appear to be a better choice to investigate.”
The Daily Mirror has detailed how former Met detective Mr Driscoll had been working alongside Operation Care when issued with disciplinary proceedings after pointing to the politician as a suspect.
The Liverpool-based team had gone to London in the summer of 1998 after arresting care home boss Michael Carroll.
Now aged 63, he had abused children in the North West before taking charge of Angell Road children’s home in Brixton, South London.
Following tensions between the forces, Merseyside kept their investigation to Carroll and left the Blair minister and other suspects to the London force.
But Mr Driscoll was removed just afterwards. Disciplinary moves were later dropped.
One Merseyside officer probing Carroll was Colin Leeman, who became a staff officer for Sir Bernard when he joined Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.
The source said: “The senior investigating officer at the time would have been expected to have reported to his senior officers the fact a serving government minister had come under suspicion.
“It’s inconceivable to think that senior Merseyside officers would not have known.”
The Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed this week they will “manage” the investigation that was already being conducted by the Met Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards.
Concerns had already been raised about the Met investigating itself. And the current investigation is restricted to serving and retired police officers, but those implicated include politicians, civil servants and former council employees.
Scotland Yard said: “The Commissioner did not have day-to-day involvement and does not recollect details about the investigation, those suspected or any associated allegations made regarding politicians.
“He absolutely refutes any suggestion he would have stopped or inhibited a criminal investigation of the nature suggested, including that of politicians. It would be wrong to suggest otherwise.”
Meanwhile Theresa May today confirmed there “seems to have been a cover-up” at Scotland Yard over VIP child abuse and said officers may face charges.
The Home Secretary told the Home Affairs Committee: “There needs to be no suggestion of any further cover-up in the work of an investigation of what seems to have been a cover-up.”
She added the abuse inquiry, led by Justice Lowell Goddard, “would not want anything it does to potentially jeopardise investigations that could lead to criminal prosecutions”.
Mrs May also insisted officials who give evidence to the inquiry should be exempt from the Official Secrets Act.
Meanwhile, Labour MP John Mann separately told MPs that victims deserved a “Rolls-Royce” counselling service but councils and prosecutors were instead failing to offer support.