My dad was a predator like Savile, claims Tory MP's son
The son of a former Conservative MP has said he believes his father was a "prolific sexual predator" who he fears might have been linked to an alleged Westminster paedophile ring.
Anthony Atkinson suspects his father David Atkinson's name may also have been included in a notorious dossier compiled by his fellow Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens. The dossier, handed to the then Home Secretary Leon Brittan in the 1980s, has subsequently been lost or destroyed.
David Atkinson, according to his son, had a string of young lovers, among them a number of parliamentary assistants, with whom he conducted affairs behind the backs of his wife and two children.
Justin Fashanu, the former professional footballer, who had grown up in a children's home and subsequently committed suicide, had claimed to have had an affair with a married Conservative MP.
The MP is now thought to be Mr Atkinson. Letters from Mr Fashanu to Mr Atkinson, now in possession of his son, suggest the two men, although close, did not consummate their relationship.
Mr Atkinson eventually finally came out to his family as gay – after being confronted by his wife Susan – and before he died entered into a civil partnership in 2011. Mr Atkinson (37), an illustrator, decided to speak out after becoming increasingly concerned about his father's behaviour.
David Atkinson was MP for Bournemouth East for almost 28 years before stepping down in 2005. The father-of-two died in 2012 at the age of 71 having suffered from bowel cancer. His family learned after his death that he had also been diagnosed HIV positive.
There is evidence that the MP had been blackmailed by a member of staff within the Palace of Westminster who had threatened to sell details of his private life to a newspaper.
On one occasion Anthony Atkinson was told by the relative of a teacher his father was a "paedophile" who had had an affair with a school pupil.
Mr Atkinson said: "What we have found shows my father to be a sad, lonely man but there is something more sinister there as well.
"At the very least he is guilty of prolific predatory sexual behaviour. My father was predatory and prolific and we (my mother, my sister and I) all thought that the behaviour attributed to Jimmy Savile of being predatory and prolific also applied to him."
When Tom Watson, the Labour MP, claimed in the House of Commons in October 2012 that 'a paedophile network' may have existed in the past at a high level, protected by connections to Parliament, Anthony Atkinson and his mother Susan got in touch with the MP, suggesting their father might have been at the very least on the fringes of the group.
On one occasion Anthony Atkinson was told by a school friend that a teacher had claimed that the MP was a "paedophile".
Mr Atkinson also discovered on the internet a claim made by a former American intern of improper conduct by the MP.
In the internet posting, the intern, a university student, wrote of being taken to dinner by Mr Atkinson on his last day working in the Commons as a thank you. "After dinner at a restaurant he insisted showing me his apartment," wrote the intern. Once in the flat, the intern wrote: "It became apparent he was trying to get me drunk... I went to use the bathroom and when I came out he was standing is a short, girly, silk bathrobe. I looked past him and saw he had the lights low and the sheets of his double bed pulled back." (© Daily Telegraph, London)