You Never Can Tell

Reading a report in last week’s Daily Mail, I was stunned to discover that one of Quartet’s authors, whom I knew rather well in the 1980s, is now accused by Susie Henderson of raping her when she was only four years old.

Waiving her right to anonymity, she went on to describe more appalling abuse by a senior Tory MP, Sir Nicholas Fairbairn, once one of Margaret Thatcher’s closest allies.

The Conservative politician, appointed solicitor general for Scotland by Mrs Thatcher when she became prime minister, has been linked to the child abuse scandal currently threatening to engulf Westminster.

Last month, evidence came to light which suggests Sir Nicholas may have visited the Elm Guest House which serial abuser Cyril Smith also attended.

The property in Barnes, South West London is the focus of a Scotland Yard investigation into an alleged Establishment paedophile ring in the 1980s.


Now Miss Henderson, forty-eight, has told the Mail that not only was she raped as a young child by Sir Nicholas but that she has suffered years of sexual assault by her late father, prominent Scottish QC Robert Henderson who was a friend of the MP.

She said of Sir Nicholas: ‘I hated that man, more than I hated my father. He just wasn’t a nice man. I want it acknowledged that my father and Fairbairn did something very evil. Not just to me. There are other children out there.’

Sir Nicholas, flamboyant MP for Perth and Kinross died in 1995 aged sixty-one.

Twice married, the MP from 1974-1995 was a favourite of Mrs Thatcher because of his right-wing views and his noisily expressed adoration of her. He once claimed to enjoy ‘a special chemistry’ with the former PM and wrote in the Spectator about her: ‘sexually attractive no, but certainly bonny’.

Miss Henderson, whose father died in 2012 aged seventy-five, claims Sir Nicholas first abused her at one of her father’s parties at his Edinburgh home. She said: ‘We were in the kitchen. I was maybe four years old. I could have been younger. I had a skirt on and Nicholas and my dad had been drinking and my dad told me to sit on Nicholas’s knee. I sat on his knee and he put his hand up my skirt and abused me. My dad just stood there laughing.’

Recalling another incident, Miss Henderson, who lives near Inverness, claims Sir Nicholas raped her when she was in bed with him and ‘another guy’ in a guest room on the top floor of her five-storey family home. She says that she was just four or five at the time and remembers the pungent smell of his feet. Sobbing, she said she was not sure how many times Sir Nicholas abused her but says it was ‘a lot’ – adding, ‘even once is too much’.

In my long career as a publisher and journalist/interviewer, I have achieved a certain reputation as a man who is seldom shocked by anything he reads or hears. But I was so devastated and distraught by Miss Henderson’s story of abuse by these two prominent Scottish QCs – one, her father, and the other, whose book of memoirs, Life is Too Short, I had even published – I was sick to the bone for the rest of the day.

Fairbairn, a respected politician and advocate, wit and raconteur, was, as far as I was concerned, a man of the highest integrity. Although pompous, self-involved and rather inclined to be an addicted self promoter, he never struck me as a pervert who preyed on little girls, and perhaps little boys for all I know, with such little regard for the consequences of such evil acts.

What a monster he must have been – and so was the father of his victim, a shameless perpetrator of sexual criminality.

I applaud the courage of Susie Henderson who had the inner strength and stamina to reveal all in order to alert us that, even in a supposedly civilised world, we still come across people who shame us in pursuit of their base and sickly carnal desires.

May both of them never rest in peace, for their crime is so abominable it defies description.

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