20 MPs & government ministers abused children for “decades”

Ex-senior judge Butler-Sloss to head child sex abuse inquiry

BBC: July 8, 2014

Retired senior judge Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, 80, has been named as the chairman of a wide-ranging review into historical child sex abuse.

Lady Butler-Sloss led the Cleveland child abuse inquiry in the late 1980s.

The announcement came shortly before the Home Office’s top civil servant was set to be quizzed by MPs about the handling of historical sex abuse allegations involving politicians.

Mark Sedwill is to face questions from the Commons Home Affairs Committee.

He will be asked about how his department lost or destroyed 114 files that could shed light on alleged abuse in the 1980s.

Baroness Butler-Sloss’s broader, independent inquiry, will look at how seriously public bodies and other important institutions have taken their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse.

‘Appalling cases’

The probe aims to address public concern over failings exposed by recent child sex abuse cases involving celebrities such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris.

Announcing the peer’s appointment, Home Secretary Theresa May said: “In recent years we have seen appalling cases of organised and persistent child sex abuse that have exposed serious failings by public bodies and important institutions.

“That is why the government has established an independent panel of experts to consider whether these organisations have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse.

“I am pleased to announce today that Baroness Butler-Sloss has been appointed to lead this inquiry.”

Baroness Butler-Sloss said: “I’m honoured to have been invited to lead this inquiry – the next step is to appoint the panel and agree the terms of reference.

“We will begin this important work as soon as possible.”

Lady Butler-Sloss was coroner for the inquests into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Al Fayed until she stepped down in 2007.

Her report on child sex abuse in Cleveland during the 1980s – which had led to more than 100 children being removed from their families – resulted in the Children’s Act 1989.

Lady Butler-Sloss’s inquiry is part of a two-pronged attack by Mrs May, who has also appointed Peter Wanless, the head of the NSPCC, to focus on concerns the Home Office failed to act on allegations of child sex abuse contained in a dossier handed over in the 1980s by former Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens.

Prominent figures

Earlier on Tuesday Jim Gamble, former head of the police’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, criticised the decision to bring in “amateurs” to find out what happened to the files, instead of “professional investigators”.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said he would look at whether the proposed inquiries were “sufficiently comprehensive and sufficiently over-arching to get at the truth about what happened”.

And The Bishop of Durham, The Right Rev Paul Butler, said he feared the “whole story won’t come out” unless witnesses had to answer questions on oath.

A review commissioned last year by Mr Sedwill, into the Home Office’s handling of child abuse allegations between 1979 and 1999, found that some 114 files were missing, although he found no evidence that they had been removed or destroyed “inappropriately”.

Mrs May said she was confident the work commissioned by Mr Sedwill had been “carried out in good faith”, but added that with “allegations as serious as these the public need to have complete confidence in the integrity of the investigation’s findings”.

It is likely the MPs will use the Home Affairs Select Committee session at 15:15 BST to ask Mr Sedwill to explain what he knew about the Dickens’ dossier and the whereabouts of the 114 files.

Keith Vaz, the committee’s Labour chairman, said his members would be careful not to jeopardise any live cases. “This is not a police investigation – this is an investigation on process so we’ll not be going into names of people,” he told the BBC.

The meeting follows claims by former child protection manager Peter McKelvie that at least 20 prominent figures – including former MPs and government ministers – abused children for “decades”.

Mr McKelvie, whose allegations led initially to a 2012 police inquiry, said a “powerful elite” of paedophiles carried out “the worst form” of abuse.

Giving his first television interview for 20 years – Mr McKelvie told the BBC: “I would say we are looking at upwards of 20 (people) and a much larger number of people who have known about it and done nothing about it, who were in a position to do something about it.”

Mr McKelvie said some of those who were alleged to have abused children had now died.

He told the BBC he had spoken to victims over “many, many years” and that children – “almost exclusively boys” – were moved around like “lumps of meat”.

They had been subjected to the “worst form of abuse”, including rape, he said.

(read the full article at BBC)

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