Former home secretary Lord Brittan has defended his handling of a 1980s dossier alleging paedophile activity in Westminster - after the Government admitted it appeared to have been destroyed.

The Tory peer issued a statement today after being challenged to "share what he knows" about a file prepared by MP Geoffrey Dickens.

But he caused confusion by initially claiming he passed it on to officials in November 1983 and heard nothing more, before admitting he had misremembered and in fact the material was assessed by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and handed to police.

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The clarification came after an independent review commissioned by the Home Office last year came to light.

It revealed that the files presented by Mr Dickens had "not been retained" by the department - but concluded that all information received between 1979 and 1999 had been handled correctly.

Lord Brittan's intervention came after Labour MP Simon Danczuk urged him to spell out what he knew about the Dickens dossier.

This was believed to have contained information about the Paedophile Information Exchange (Pie) and abuse networks operating around Westminster.

A Home Office spokesman said the Dickens file had not been retained "in line with departmental policy" on record keeping, but could not give further details.