UK

Former Tory MP Harvey Proctor denies being part of 'rent-boy ring'

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Media captionFormer Conservative MP Harvey Proctor: "I have nothing to add to this Kafkaesque fantasy"

Former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor has denied being part of any "rent-boy ring" after police searched his home.

His home, on the estate of Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire, has been searched by police investigating historical allegations of child abuse.

The BBC understands police from Operation Midland, which is looking at claims establishment figures abused boys, visited the house on Wednesday.

Mr Proctor, 68, also denied attending sex parties with prominent figures.

He was MP for Billericay until 1987 before resigning ahead of a trial for gross indecency. He pleaded guilty to four charges relating to homosexual activity and was fined.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he would like to be interviewed by police "at the earliest opportunity".

The Metropolitan Police confirmed officers had searched an address near Grantham.

Operation Midland is examining claims boys were abused by a group of powerful men from politics, the military and law enforcement agencies at locations across southern England and in London in the 1970s and 1980s.

It has focused on the Dolphin Square estate in Pimlico, south-west London.

Image caption Police visited the 68-year-old's home near Grantham on Wednesday

Mr Proctor said: "I have not been part of any rent-boy ring with cabinet ministers, other MPs or the military."

He added he had "never attended sex parties at Dolphin Square or anywhere else".

Asked if he was aware of Operation Midland, he said: "I may not have known the detail of it but anyone would be blind if they hadn't seen the press relating to these matters over the last year and I find myself in a Kafkaesque fantasy situation."

The investigation, which is under the umbrella of Operation Fairbank, a wider inquiry into historical abuse, is also examining claims that three boys were murdered.


Profile

Harvey Proctor was born in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, and served as a Conservative MP from 1979 to 1987, representing the Essex constituencies of Basildon and then Billericay.

In 1986, allegations surrounding his sex life appeared in a Sunday newspaper, claiming he had been involved with male prostitutes aged between 17 and 21.

The legal age of consent for gay men at the time was 21 and Mr Proctor was charged with gross indecency. He resigned as an MP shortly before his trial in May 1987, where he pleaded guilty and was fined £1,450.

The following year he opened two shops selling luxury shirts, with financial support from some former colleagues.

In 1992, two men assaulted Mr Proctor in his Richmond-upon-Thames shop. Neil Hamilton, who was a government minister at the time, was also in the shop and had his nose broken in the incident.

In 2000, Mr Proctor's stores were forced into liquidation after legal action by Customs and Excise over an unpaid VAT bill.

Since 2003, he has been private secretary to the Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle, a 16,000 acre site of farmland and woodland in Leicestershire.


Asked about the wider allegations of sexual abuse being made, he said: "I believe that the number of victims grows by the day.

"The number of alleged perpetrators through death diminishes. That is a problem.

"It is certainly a problem for me. I suppose my problem is that I'm still very much alive.

"I am sure some of the allegations are true but I'm also sure a lot of the allegations are pure and utter fantasy."

Mr Proctor later made a brief statement at his home, in which he confirmed his house had been searched by Metropolitan Police.

He also said he had nothing to add to the comments he had made on the Today programme.

'Loner' MP

Speaking about the gross indecency case, Mr Proctor said his guilty pleas related to homosexual activity with men he believed to be above the then age of consent of 21. They were also older than the current age of consent of 16, he added.

"The offences I committed in 1987 are no longer offences and there is legislation on the statute book which would allow me to wipe them clean if I wish to do so," he said.

The former MP described himself as a "discreet person" and said that the press "did an assortment of things to out me".

He said: "I was regarded in the House of Commons as a very independent MP and a loner.

"The last thing I would dream of doing is talking to other MPs or ministers or anybody else about my personal life."


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