LONDON (REUTERS) - Police looking into accusations that powerful figures at the heart of the British establishment were involved in child sex abuse in the 1970s and 1980s said on Thursday they were investigating allegations three young boys had been murdered.
Detectives said the "credible" murder claims came from an alleged victim, known only as Nick, who said he was sexually abused at locations across London and south-east England including military establishments and at Dolphin Square, a central London block of flats close to parliament.
Nick, who said he was abused from 1975 when he was just seven until 1984, described being picked up and taken to various locations and abused by powerful people on their own, in groups or during "parties".
"They (detectives) and I believe what Nick is saying to be credible and true," Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald, who is heading the murder inquiry, told reporters as he appealed for other victims to come forward.
The revelation is the latest development in the police investigation, launched two years ago when a lawmaker raised the issue in parliament, which has now expanded into inquiries into historical paedophile rings involving politicians, public officials, and other high-profile figures.
One lawmaker has told Reuters at least 10 current or former politicians might have been involved in child abuse.
Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Rodhouse, who heads all the inquiries, said they were looking into 18 different strands, of which the murder claims were just one, and had interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses.
He said the strands were varied, not all based in London and did not all involve high-profile figures.
"These are very serious allegations. We are committed to fully investigating these cases," Rodhouse said.
"When the time is right we will interview under caution anyone, regardless of their background."
Home Secretary (interior minister) Theresa May has previously said she could not rule out the possibility of a cover-up after suggestions that dossiers of allegations had been destroyed as part of an establishment conspiracy.
Mr Rodhouse said they had seen no evidence of a cover-up but that they were looking into allegations police had failed to investigate criminal actions by high-profile people.
These include claims made by a former senior detective, who said he was moved from his role examining claims of abuse from the 1980s after listing suspects, including politicians, he wanted to question.
"One of the challenges here is to separate fact from rumour and opinion," Mr Rodhouse said.