LONDON – Britain’s MI5 security service covered up for pedophile members of the UK government under then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to avoid political embarrassment, local media reported Thursday, citing a recently unsealed trove of Cabinet files.

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The documents, reportedly found among unsorted papers stored by the Cabinet Office, indicate that in 1986 head of MI5 at that time Antony Duff informed Cabinet Secretary Robert Armstrong that an unnamed senior Tory lawmaker had a “penchant for small boys,” the Times newspaper reported.

Duff wrote that they had accepted the parliamentarian’s denial on the grounds that “the risks of political embarrassment to the government is rather greater than the security danger,” the letter continued, Sputnik reports.

The government admitted the existence of the papers after months of requests from Sky News, a British TV station.

The station had named several key Westminster figures who were allegedly embroiled in the child sexual abuse scandal. These included Thatcher’s Parliamentary Private Secretary Peter Morrison, Home Secretary Leon Brittan, diplomat Sir Peter Hayman and Northern Ireland minister William van Straubenzee. All four have since passed away.

Sky News cited a spokesman from a children rights lobby group, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSCC), who said the disclosure showed how people at the highest levels of government “simply weren’t thinking about crimes against children.”