Exaro stands by Tom Watson and reporting of VIP child abuse claims amid 'shameful' and 'party-political' criticism

News website Exaro has stood behind its reporting of the "Westminster paedophile network" as Labour deputy leader Tom Watson yesterday refused to apologise to the family of Leon Brittan.

Former Tory minister Brittan died in January this year after being questioned by police over an historic allegation of rape. 

The police investigation followed reporting of claims against Brittan by Exaro and political pressure from Watson.

The Labour deputy leader yesterday told the Commons: "I understand MPs feel aggrieved Leon Brittan was interviewed by the police and they are angry with my use of language but I am sure they would also agree that when someone is accused of multiple sexual crimes by numerous completely unrelated sources the police have a duty to investigate, no matter who it is.”

Exaro News stood by its reporting from May 2014, when it did not name Brittan.

It said on Twitter: “After detectives interviewed ‘Jane’ over her claim of rape by Leon Brittan in 1967 before he became an MP, they assessed her as credible… This meant that police were obliged to interview the suspect under caution, but they failed at first to do so.

"Jane, outraged by police conduct of the investigation, came forward to Exaro so that we could report on the case.

"Jane was outraged that the police had refused to i/v the suspect. Exaro established that they should have done – under their own guidelines.

"Exaro arranged for Jane to meet @Tom_Watson and one of our reporters. Watson, as outraged as Jane, protested to DPP.

"Police were still investigating Jane’s rape claim against Lord Brittan at point of his death, no matter what is being spun elsewhere.

"As evidence of ‘Westminster paedophile network’ and many cover-ups grows, it is shameful that some want to make it a party-political issue.

"Unlike his enemies, @Tom_Watson has pressed issues of VIPs’ alleged sexual abuse out of genuine concern about abuse – not party politics."

A former Lib Dem MP yesterday became the latest public figure to be questioned over historic child abuse allegations.

He told the Daily Mail: “'My children are the victim of this latest witch-hunt by Labour MPs who have no concern about the effects of their campaign on real people."

The Daily Mail said on Saturday that Exaro has "published interviews with a string of victims whose evidence at times does not stand up to even basic scrutiny".

In response to questions raised by The Sunday Telegraph, Exaro financial backer Jerome Booth issued a lengthy statement defending the site.

He said: "I believe that Exaro and its journalists are carrying out important work in the public interest, breaking stories about VIP child abuse and a range of other subjects."

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