EXCLUSIVE: Fourth whistleblower to cooperate with Essex Police review of alleged Shoebury child abuse 'cover-up'

By Charles Thomson in Crime

A FOURTH whistleblower has agreed to cooperate with a police probe into an alleged paedophile ring ’cover-up’, after being tracked down by the Yellow Advertiser.

The source managed a charity project in Essex and worked with young boys who had been abused by men in Shoebury in the late 1980s.

The source said he and colleagues had felt ’deep regret’ for 25 years over the way the allegations were handled by authorities, and that he was ’delighted’ police were reinvestigating.

Asked whether he would cooperate with Essex Police’s review of the case, he said: “Yes. Anything I can do to try and get justice for those kids, count me in. A hundred per cent.”

Police Commissioner Nick Alston and Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh announced earlier this month that police would review how the alleged ring was investigated and how victims were treated.

In May 1990, two men were convicted for their roles in what Essex Council described in official documents at the time as a ’sex ring’ targeting ’adolescent boys’; Denis King, then aged 55 and living in Cunningham Close, Shoebury, and Brian Tanner, then 57 and living in Beedell Avenue, Westcliff.

Essex Police last week confirmed King was convicted of four counts of gross indecency and three counts of attempted buggery, while Tanner was convicted of three counts of gross indecency and three counts of attempted buggery.

King was jailed for four years, Tanner for three.

Tanner has since died and King no longer lives in Essex.

Two charity workers who dealt with the young victims came forward earlier this year, telling police that boys they worked with had disclosed abuse by far more men than the two who were prosecuted.

Along with a third whistleblower – who was an NHS manager – they have also claimed many victims were never interviewed by police and the majority were never given appropriate after-care.

The trio have told police that boys who were denied proper support went on to develop mental health problems, with some committing suicide or dying of drug overdoses.

The fourth whistleblower told the YA he personally received the first known disclosure of abuse by one of the victims, then helped prepare multiple victims to testify in court.

He said he had been impressed by police’s initial work but was left upset by the outcome.

He told the YA: “I really couldn’t fault the early stages of the investigation. I saw they were properly excited as police officers – ’Hey, this is really something we can get our teeth into, we’re really going to go gung-ho’, and all that kind of stuff.

“And then it just got to a point where, for some reason, that drive went and they were kind of saying, ’Well, we’ve got enough’. The thing that frustrated us most was the failure to ever identify anyone other than these two blokes.”

The new source was listed as a co-author on a 1990 report, prepared by two local children’s charities and based on accounts by 25 known victims.

The report said the handful of boys involved in the court case against King and Tanner were ‘the tip of a large iceberg’.

It said the number of victims ‘could be as many as 80, aged 11 to their early 20s’.

The report said the impact on the alleged victims was ‘enormous’.

It described how at least two attempted suicide, all suffered depression, some began self-harming, the majority were ‘exceptionally confused’ about their sexuality, some ‘graduated into the local rent boy scene’ and some began displaying ‘abusive behaviour’ towards younger children.

The report said local welfare agencies were ‘struggling to come to terms’ with the situation and had ‘only offered a patchy response’.

However, despite police having been in possession of a copy of the report since early this year, the source said officers conducting the review had not yet contacted him.

With his permission, the YA provided the whistleblower’s contact details to the Police Commissioner’s office.

Staff thanked the YA and said they would pass the details to investigating officers.

Anybody with information about the case can call Essex Police on 101.

Specialist helplines for victims:

National Association for People Abused in Childhood – 0808 801 0331.

SERICC (south and west Essex) – 01375 380609.

CARA (mid and north Essex) – 01206 769795.

SoSRC (Southend) – 01702 667590.

National Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – 0808 800 5000.