Hatton Gardens heist boss Brian Reader was horrified when his gang broke into a bank vault and found sickening photos of a leading politician abusing children.
But the notorious crook was shocked further when the thieves left the pictures for police to find – only for the Tory Cabinet minister’s crimes to be hushed up.
Reader, known as The Guv’nor, is facing jail for planning last year’s £14million Hatton Garden raid and claims about his previous high-profile break-in can now be revealed for the first time.
The images are said to have been found stashed in a safety deposit box in 1971 when the gang tunnelled into a branch of Lloyds in Baker Street, Central London, and escaped with a £3million haul.
A close confidant of 76-year-old career criminal Reader said: “It was a shock for them when they found photographs of a famous politician abusing children.
“The gang were disgusted and left them lying on the floor of the vault for the police to find but nothing was ever done.”
The Government of the time allegedly forced the press to stop reporting on the burglary as a matter of national security amid allegations raunchy photos of the late Princess Margaret were found in another safety deposit box in the vault.
But the latest claims, revealed to the Daily Mirror, are more disturbing and further evidence of the Establishment cover-up of powerful paedophiles.
We are not naming the politician, who has since died and was never publicly linked to allegations of child sexual abuse.
But we have passed details to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which is set to examine claims against Labour peer Lord Janner, who died before facing trial for child sexual abuse, and Lib Dem MP Cyril Smith, whose paedophilia was exposed after his death.
Inquiry chairman Judge Goddard said in November: “We will conduct an objective fact-finding inquiry into allegations of abuse by people of public prominence associated with Westminster.
“The investigation will focus on high-profile allegations of child sexual abuse involving current or former Members of Parliament, senior civil servants, Government advisers, and members of the intelligence and security agencies.
“It will consider allegations of cover-up and conspiracy and will review the adequacy of law enforcement responses to these allegations.”
If the images found by Reader had been made public at the time, it would have caused a massive political scandal.
In 1971, he was beginning a criminal career spanning five decades which would involve him in raids worth more than £150million and make him Britain’s biggest thief.
His gang had spent months planning the Baker Street job.
They rented a leather goods shop, two doors up from the bank, and then tunnelled 40ft from the shop basement into the vaults.
Once inside, they ransacked 268 safety deposit boxes – nearly four times the 73 opened by the Hatton Garden gang.
The source said: “Brian was not well when he did Baker Street because he was only a few months out of hospital after falling on his head on another job.
“But he has great stamina and wasn’t going to miss the chance of pulling off Britain’s biggest ever burglary.”
The raid remains the largest in British history despite claims Hatton Garden was larger.
In today’s money the £3million stolen would be equivalent to about £41million.
Four men were convicted of the crime, including photographer Tony Gavin, and were jailed for up to 12 years, but Reader escaped prosecution.
A second source, a gang member, previously told the Mirror in 2008 that child pornography was found in the vaults but did not give further details.
He said: “We were disgusted and left it in their open boxes so police could trace the owners.
We didn’t want to take anything that might give us extra trouble. All we wanted was cash and jewels.”
At the time of the raid, Princess Margaret’s marriage to Antony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon, was in its final stages.
In the 60s and 70s the Queen’s sister was known to party hard on the Caribbean island of Mustique, where she was pictured with lover Roddy Llewellyn, a landscape gardener 17 years her junior.
She is said to have taken snaps of male friends frolicking naked but it is not known if any were ever taken of her.
The ex-raider would only say: “I can’t talk about that.”
Describing preparations for the break-in, the crook added: “Before we got started, myself and an accomplice dressed up in bowler hats and pinstripes and went into the bank.
“We were able to measure out the distance from the wall to the vault using an umbrella so we could calculate how far we needed to tunnel and didn’t end up popping up in the wrong place.”