Scotland Yard has launched an official investigation into historic claims of child abuse after an MP alleged that a "senior aide of a former prime minister" had links to a member of a paedophile ring.

The Metropolitan Police announced tonight that an inquiry, called Operation Fernbridge, was under way into allegations about child abuse in the early 1980s at the Elm Guest House, Rocks Lane, Barnes, London.

tom watson

Tom Watson addresses the House of Commons

This follows claims made in October last year by Tom Watson MP, who said that a file of evidence used to convict Peter Righton of importing child pornography in 1992 contained "clear intelligence" of a sex abuse gang.

Speaking in Parliament, he alleged that a member of the group had bragged about links with a senior aide to a former prime minister.

Raising the issue during Prime Minister's questions, Mr Watson said: "The evidence file used to convict paedophile Peter Righton, if it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring.

"One of its members boasts of his links to a senior aide of a former prime minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.

"The leads were not followed up, but if the file still exists I want to ensure that the Metropolitan Police secure the evidence, re-examine it and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and Number 10.

Scotland Yard tonight asked anyone with information to contact police on 020 7161 0500.

The force stressed that the abuse claims are not linked with the current occupants of the address.