Detectives with evidence of child abuse against an MP who died some years back and a member of the intelligence services were threatened with the Official Secrets Act if they did not drop the case, a police whistleblower has claimed.
Police officers questioned the MP during the inquiry in the early 1980s, which targeted properties in south London where it was suspected sex parties were hosted involving teenage boys, but he was released within hours of being taken to a police station, it is said.
The MP and others were caught abusing children, but officers were ordered to hand over all their evidence – including notebooks and video footage – and warned to keep quiet about the investigation or face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.
If this is proved 10% true, as the abuse of power it is at the heart of our nation, that’s bad enough, but even worse are unanswered questions about the disappearance and possible murder of some of the teenage boys.
Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
In the world - and the church is part of the world - in the world, people rise to the heights so they gain power not just to do good. Abusing, murdering children, for selfish satisfaction seems an unthinkable use of power but that's what's coming out at us, day by day, as this wicked episode in our nation comes to the surface.
Today is the start of Holy Week and we get a window into what's ultimately the case concerning the God of power and might.
When God shows his power it’s in a downward and not upward movement as the Philippians reading makes clear.
God in Christ emptied himself taking the form of a slave being born in human likeness. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death - even death on a cross.
So it was that Jesus Christ disappointed many on Palm Sunday.
As Messiah, he entered Jerusalem with no trappings of earthly power save a donkey. We know Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus most likely linked to his involvement with the Zealots who’d hoped Jesus would use his divine power to free Israel from Roman rule. Lest we be too hard on Judas we should recall James and John once tried a bid for power among the twelve disciples and how Peter like Judas forsook Jesus at his last hour.
Our Lord Jesus was the most countercultural being who ever trod the earth. He retains influence to this day because he shunned power in the dog eat dog sense but emptied, humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death.
Jesus descended into true greatness - and that's the invitation he brings our way.
Those MPs and establishment figures, whose greed and lust did so much damage, also did good through the 1980s as Britain's leaders. Some of their peers were famous in a quite different way. I think of Frank Longford whose prison visits to infamous figures like Myra Hindley signalled a different use of power, symbolic of humility and servanthood.
It’s quite dreadful that a police officer, given notice of a crime, should be told in the name of a big name to keep quiet and hand over his records, but that is the way of a world in thrall to evil.
In Christianity there are no big names, God alone, and no lesser names. He values each of us the same, precious yet flawed beings that we are.
There is no one so flawed Jesus is beyond them if they seek him, and I’m thinking of those implicit in the alleged wickedness I've described which serves our nation ill.
This is so because Jesus, once he came to Bethlehem, never stopped descending.
The Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head we read. He who is the source of truth is made a blasphemer.
In the account we just heard he’s spit upon by the creatures he brought to life.
God in Christ is stripped. The hands that stretched out the heavens are nailed to a cross. God the Son is innocent victim of human wickedness
In Holy Week the One who possesses everything is made nothing in our eyes alongside two criminals, but in God's eyes he is the greatest of the great, so that, at the name of Jesus every knee should bend in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
This is our God, and we are his people. We move in the same direction descending into greatness as best we can. Greatness to us, as to Jesus, isn't the achievement of self-will but of self-abandonment.
I attended the funeral of a great lady last month. She was 91 but 250 people came to mourn her. Her preoccupation was to serve God and other people, and the people knew it and couldn't let her be taken to the grave without signalling they knew it.
As priest I attend many funerals where a smaller group attends to a deceased relative with narrower, less unselfish preoccupation. I can tell you these occasions barely become celebrations however hard and imaginatively we work at them.
In Holy Week we make time to reflect on death and resurrection. As you reflect take time to imagine your own funeral, who'll be there, what they'll have to say about you.
You've got the rest of your life to change that and you might get more on that case after Easter.
We live in three spheres, physical, intellectual and spiritual. Whether you're physically great or not isn't eternally significant. Neither whether or not you wrote a book. Jesus didn’t!
True greatness is greatness of spirit and its attained as Jesus shows us this week.
We work our way to greatness by surrendering our egos day by day to be worn down by circumstances that cross our self-interest
Like Christ we descend to ascend into a fulfilment beyond this world of which joy is a taster.
I end with a story from World War II appropriate in the run up to VE Day. It’s of a bishop imprisoned and beaten by an SS officer to extract a confession about his accomplices in the resistance.
‘Don’t you know I can kill you?’ screamed the officer.
The bishop looked into the eyes of his torturer. ‘Yes, I know - do what you want - but I have already died.’
Instantly, as though paralysed, the officer couldn’t raise his arm. Power over this man of God had been taken from him.
All his cruelties had been based on the assumption the bishop's physical life was his most precious possession so that he’d do anything to save it.
With such grounds for violence gone, torture was futile
Such is true greatness, the capacity to look death in the face with Jesus at your side
May he draw closer to your side this Holy Week and build in you and around you his death defying perspective!