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Sir Peter Hugh Morrison (2 June 1944 – 13 July 1995) was a British Conservative politician, MP for Chester from 1974 to 1992, and Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.


Sir Peter Morrison
Peter Morrison, British MP and Conservative Party politician.jpg
Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
In office
23 July – 28 November 1990
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byArchie Hamilton
Succeeded byGraham Bright
Minister of State for Energy
In office
11 June 1987 – 23 July 1990
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byAlick Buchanan-Smith
Succeeded byColin Moynihan (Under-Secretary)
Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party
In office
10 September 1986 – 11 June 1987
LeaderMargaret Thatcher
Minister of State for Trade and Industry
In office
2 September 1985 – 10 September 1986
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byNorman Lamont
Succeeded byGiles Shaw
Minister of State for Employment
In office
13 June 1983 – 2 September 1985
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Preceded byMichael Alison
Succeeded byKenneth Clarke
Lord Commissioner of HM Treasury
In office
4 May 1979 – 5 January 1981
Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher
Member of Parliament
for Chester
In office
28 February 1974 – 9 April 1992
Preceded byJohn Temple
Succeeded byGyles Brandreth
Personal details
Born2 June 1944
Fonthill, Wiltshire, England, UK[1]
Died13 July 1995(1995-07-13) (aged 51)
London, England
Alma materKeble College, Oxford

Background and educationEdit

Morrison was the third son of John Morrison, 1st Baron Margadale, by the Honourable Margaret Smith, the daughter of Frederick Smith, 2nd Viscount Hambleden, and Lady Esther Gore. James Morrison, 2nd Baron Margadale, and Sir Charles Morrison, Conservative MP for Devizes from 1964 to 1992, were his elder brothers. He was educated at Eton and Keble College, Oxford, where he read Law.

Political careerEdit

Morrison was first elected to the House of Commons in the general election of February 1974 for Chester. He was one of the first backbench MPs to urge Margaret Thatcher to stand for the Party leadership in 1975. In 1986 he became Deputy Conservative Party chairman under Norman Tebbit[2] having been previously a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Minister of State in the Department of Employment. In 1987, he was Minister of State for Energy,[3] with responsibility for oil.[4] It was while he was based in Chester that he became good friends with former leader of the Welsh Conservatives Nick Bourne.[5]

During this period it was alleged that Morrison joined the small group of MPs, who included Michael Grylls and Neil Hamilton, who took money from Ian Greer on behalf of third-party clients.[6] During the Cash for Questions Inquiry, Ian Greer Associates admitted Morrison received payments after ceasing to be an MP. The Parliamentary Report in Hansard quotes Ian Greer as stating he made "Two commission payments, perhaps three, for client referrals" to Morrison between 1993 and 1994.[7]

In 1990, Morrison became Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher; he was the leader of her campaign team in the Conservative leadership election in the same year.[citation needed] He was relaxed about Thatcher's prospects and predicted an easy win for her. Alan Clark went to visit him one afternoon during the campaign and found him asleep in his office. Morrison claimed that he had assurances from enough MPs that they were Thatcher supporters to be certain she would win.[citation needed]

After the first ballot of Conservative MPs had shown that Thatcher did not have enough votes to win outright, Morrison suggested to her that she should consult the Cabinet one-by-one to gauge support. He said to her: "Prime Minister, if you haven't won then there are a lot of Tory MPs who are lying".[8] He stood down at the 1992 general election, being succeeded as MP for Chester by Gyles Brandreth.

Morrison was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in February 1991.[9] He died of a heart attack early in the morning of 13 July 1995, aged 51.

HomosexualityEdit

According to the journalist Simon Heffer, Morrison was gay and went cruising (looking for men for sex) in Sussex Gardens, near Paddington station in central London.[10] Fellow Conservative MP Michael Brown, another associate of Greer and himself gay, described Morrison as gay in a column published by The Independent in 2002.[11]

Allegations of child abuseEdit

There were no very precise allegations, but suggestions that Morrison might have attended gay parties and engaged in casual pick-ups ... Morrison was asked by whips about the accusations and always categorically denied them ... [Norman] Tebbit recalled, 'I began to hear allegations, coming from his constituency [Chester], when he was with me at CCO, that he was excessively interested in schoolboys. I faced him. He swore absolutely that there was no truth in it. I wasn't absolutely convinced.' Tebbit did not discuss the rumours with Mrs Thatcher, however, and she never raised them. The only effect of such stories was that an informal ceiling was put on Morrison's career. He was known to want to be chairman of the party after the 1987 election, but it was understood that this would be too risky. Robin Butler recalled that, in his time as Mrs Thatcher's private secretary, which ended in 1985, no accusations came up about Morrison. When Butler became Cabinet secretary in 1987, however, allegations did surface. They were about homosexuality, and therefore the possibility of being compromised by Soviet agents, rather than about child abuse.[12]

— Margaret Thatcher's biographer Charles Moore on the allegations

In October 2012, Rod Richards, a former MP and ex-leader of the Welsh Conservatives, implicated Morrison in the North Wales child abuse scandal.[13]

Between 1974 and 1990, up to 650 children from forty children's homes (such as Bryn Estyn in Wrexham) were sexually, physically and emotionally abused. Richards said that Morrison and another high-profile Conservative politician were named in documents as regular and unexplained visitors to the care homes.[14]

Investigative journalist Nick Davies reported in The Guardian that Morrison received a caution for cottaging with underage boys in public lavatories.[15]

Former Conservative minister Edwina Currie stated that Morrison regularly had sex with 16-year-old boys at a time when the legal age of consent for same-sex relations was 21.[16] In 2002, Currie described Morrison as a "notable pederast".[17]

In July 2014, Barry Strevens, a former bodyguard to Margaret Thatcher, claimed that he warned her that Morrison allegedly held sex parties with underage boys.[18] Despite his passing on the allegations to Thatcher, Morrison was promoted later to the position of deputy chairman of the Conservative party.[18] Thatcher's private secretary, Archie Hamilton, reportedly took notes of what was said.[18] Strevens reflected: "I am sure [Hamilton] would have given her assurances about the rumours, as otherwise she wouldn't have given him the job."[18]

In January 2015, The Daily Telegraph reported allegations that Morrison raped a 14-year-old boy at Elm Guest House in London. The alleged victim said he was walking in the village of Harting in West Sussex in 1982, when Morrison gave him some money and later lured him to London.[19]

In 2019, Morrison was investigated by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), with evidence from Eliza Manningham-Buller (a former director general of MI5), who had been friendly with Morrison for a time. Manningham-Buller said that she may have provided the cabinet secretary with information including the comment that Morrison had a "penchant for small boys".[20]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Patrick Cosgrave. "Obituary: Sir Peter Morrison". The Independent. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  2. ^ Sir Peter Morrison Patrick Cosgrave obituary, independent.co.uk, 15 July 1995.
  3. ^ Department of Energy (1974–1992), Ministers as at 26 June 1987
  4. ^ Glasgow Herald, 26 April 1989.
  5. ^ https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/bourne-denies-aspirationsfor-election-parliament-2465314
  6. ^ Stephen Castle, "Rise and fall of the greed generation's lobbyist", independent.co.uk, 6 October 1996.
  7. ^ House of Commons Select Committee on Standards and Privileges First Report 1996, publications.parliament.uk; accessed 7 September 2016.
  8. ^ "The ghastly process has begun". BBC News. 9 July 2001. Retrieved 17 February 2009.
  9. ^ The London Gazette, 28 May 1991, p. 8208
  10. ^ Simon Heffer (4 August 2002). "Homophobia has never been the Tories' problem". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 17 February 2009.
  11. ^ "Shock news: there are gay MPs in the Tory party". The Independent. 30 July 2002.
  12. ^ Moore, Charles (2015). Margaret Thatcher: Everything She Wants. 2. Penguin Books. p. 468. ISBN 978-0-241-20126-8.
  13. ^ Patrick Sawer and Jason Lewis "Senior Tories accused over child abuse", The Daily Telegraph, 3 November 2012.
  14. ^ "Thatcher aide was paedophile who preyed on boys' home". Daily Mail. London. 27 October 2012.
  15. ^ "The sheer scale of child sexual abuse in Britain". Reprinted from The Guardian (April 1998) on www.nickdavies.net. Retrieved 27 October 2012.
  16. ^ "Thatcher aide 'had sex with underage boys'". Sunday Times. London, UK. 21 October 2012.
  17. ^ Gardner, Bill (5 January 2015). "Thatcher confidant raped boy and police covered crime up". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK.
  18. ^ a b c d Eleftheriou-Smith, Loulla-Mae (27 July 2014). "Thatcher 'was warned of Tory child sex party claims'". The Independent on Sunday. London, UK. Retrieved 6 January 2015.
  19. ^ Gardner, Bill (5 January 2015). "Murder link to Margaret Thatcher aide accused of raping teenage boy". The Daily Telegraph. London, UK.
  20. ^ Owen Bowcott (12 March 2019). "Ex-MI5 chief avoided minister's funeral after child abuse claims". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 March 2019.

External linksEdit