The survivor at the centre of a major historical child sexual abuse case has welcomed the decision by Lincolnshire police to reopen the case, following a six-month investigation by BuzzFeed News that raised multiple questions about the original police operation.
David, who asked that only his first name is reported, described the development as "one of the most positive things that has happened in the last 35 years".
He approached BuzzFeed News in 2015 with concerns about how both Lincolnshire police in 2007 and the Metropolitan police last year investigated his claims. David alleged that Gordon Dawson, a well-connected member of the landed gentry, groomed and raped him aged 15 in Lincolnshire in the early 1980s before taking him on trips to London's Dolphin Square where further abuse took place.
The apartment complex close to Westminster subsequently became embroiled in allegations of sexual abuse by politicians. David revealed that he was taken to dinners with MPs and other powerful figures and said he would awake the next morning in the Dolphin Square flat, in pain and with blood and semen on him that was not his. He still does not know who, other than Dawson, might have been involved.
During our investigation, which unearthed key police files and documents from the inquest into the sudden death of Dawson in 2007 – he was found dead less than two hours after a police officer warned him he was to be arrested – it emerged that several other men had also come forward. Some alleged Dawson abused them when they were as young as 5 years old.
Many of the files supported David's testimony, such as his concerns that Dawson had been warned of his impending arrest on two occasions. David also alleged that he had advised police during their investigation to remove firearms from Dawson's private gun collection, but they failed to do so, and amid the investigation, Dawson was found dead with a rifle next to him.
Within two weeks of the BuzzFeed News investigation being published, Marc Jones, the police and crime commissioner for Lincolnshire, said "there are lessons the force can and must learn" and Detective Superintendent Rick Hatton, head of Lincolnshire police's public protection unit, apologised to survivors.
Keith Best, the chief executive of Survivors UK, the group for abuse victims, supported David's calls for the case to be re-investigated, citing "grave errors" by Lincolnshire police, while leading criminal lawyer Nigel Richardson described the police interventions at the time as "odd", "irregular", and "unusual" for an "allegation of this seriousness".
Now, six months later, Lincolnshire police have started re-examining the original investigation carried out during 2006 and 2007. Details of this new probe are not currently being shared but BuzzFeed News understands that several lines of inquiry surrounding the case are being pursued.
Hatton, who is also head of Lincolnshire Police's public protection unit, told BuzzFeed News: "Lincolnshire Police have reviewed the original file and spoken further with [David]. As a result of this, investigations are ongoing into the original allegation and further details that have come to light."
"What's happening now is very encouraging," David told BuzzFeed News. He added that he hoped the fresh investigation would unearth "as many answers as possible" and that he was "very surprised" that the case is being re-examined "because it's been so hard to get here".
Frustrated with Lincolnshire police, who had closed the investigation following Dawson's death in 2007, David responded to a request by the Metropolitan police in late 2014 for anyone who had been abused in Dolphin Square to come forward. After interviewing David, the Met declined to investigate further, prompting his decision to contact BuzzFeed News.