Pop stars and politicians were part of secret paedophile ring which placed coded adverts in magazines, it has been alleged.

Metropolitan Police detectives are gearing up for a series of arrests relating to a VIP child sex abuse ring named "Spartacus".

Officers suspect that members of the ring, including pop stars, a bishop, a Soviet spy and a top politician, met at Elm Guesthouse in Barnes, southwest London.

Police have interviewed 12 alleged victims over claims that teenage boys were abused there during the 1980s, reported the Daily Express. The investigation formed part of Operation Ferndown, triggered by allegations by Tom Watson MP at Prime Minister's Questions.

The deceased Liberal Democrat MP for Rochdale, Cyril Smith, reportedly met and abused teenage rent boys at Elm Guesthouse. Last year a plaque dedicated to Smith in Rochdale was removed after two men claimed they were abused by the larger-than-life politician at a hostel which he founded.

Members of the Spartacus network allegedly placed adverts in the gay press containing coded references to the ring, which would have been recognised only by members.

Among the adverts reportedly placed by Elm Guesthouse was one that read: "10 percent for Spartacus club members."

In 1982, the then managers of the guesthouse, Maroon and Carole Kasir, were convicted of running a brothel. Shortly before she died in 1990, Ms Kasir reportedly said that the guesthouse used to "feature" boys from a nearby care home, who were supplied to paedophiles staying at Elm.

The property is today a private home and the occupants have no connection to the historical allegations.

Watson sparked controversy by standing up in parliament and alleging that a powerful paedophile network used to operate with strong links to Downing Street.

A storm of speculation erupted over the identity of the mystery senior political figures, fuelled by social media websites including Twitter.

Breakfast TV's Philip Schofield was lambasted after he handed Prime Minister David Cameron the names of alleged suspects - garnered from five minutes spent on the internet.