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Westminster child sex abuse allegations and paedophile ‘coverups’ examined by new inquiry

Category: Political News,Politics

Former politicians, police and security services are to be summoned before a new inquiry into alleged child sex abuse “involving people of public prominence associated with Westminster”.

Starting today, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is to examine allegations of historic coverups, conspiracies and a tolerance for paedophilia in the highest levels of government. 

MI5, Scotland Yard, former ministers, MPs, party whips and peers are among witnesses to be called over three weeks of hearings.

A spokesperson for IICSA said it will be examining “whether Westminster institutions, including political parties, government departments, law enforcement or intelligence agencies, have failed or are still failing to protect children from sexual abuse”.

Police investigations, charging decisions, political parties, the honours system and the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), a British pro-paedophile activist group which openly lobbied parliament in the 1970s, are all within the inquiry’s remit.

A former Home Office consultant is to give evidence on allegations PIE received public money, and the inquiry will also hear claims that police seized a supposed dossier of VIP paedophiles drawn up by late Labour peer Barbara Castle in the 1980s.

Hearings will examine whether “political parties turned a blind eye to allegations of inhouse child sexual abuse, or whether there were attempts to cover up such allegations”.

They will also look at allegations police officers were “warned off” investigating prominent paedophiles, and suggestions that party whips sought to use the claims for their own advantage.

IICSA said it would consider “whether there was a culture in place in Westminster institutions that sought to shield people of public prominence from proper investigation, and tolerate their wrongdoing, at the expense of their victims”.

The inquiry will not include discredited allegations about a Westminster “VIP paedophile ring” by Carl Beech, who was known as “Nick” and has been charged with fraud and perverting the course of justice

His claims sparked a £2.5m Scotland Yard inquiry, Operation Midland, which was closed in 2016 without any arrests.

In the new inquiry, alleged victims of MPs, including the late Liberal politician Cyril Smith, will give evidence to IICSA.

Police, Rochdale Council and staff at a school and hostel where boys were targeted allegedly knew of his abuse but failed to prevent it or prosecute the knighted MP.  

Sir Edward Heath probe ‘not a fishing trip or witch hunt’, police chief says

Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer representing Mr Smith’s alleged victims, told The Independent: “Smith was a prolific paedophile who should have been prosecuted during his lifetime and it is a scandal that he was able to evade justice for so many years. 

“Our clients feel strongly the systemic failures that led to this, including in the Liberal Party, need to be fully investigated so that lessons can be learned for the future. 

“We welcome these hearings and hope that they will help to resolve the many questions about the Smith case which have remained unanswered for several decades.”   

The inquiry will also hear allegations against the late Sir Edward Heath, who was the subject of a £1.5m investigation by Wiltshire Police.

Investigators concluded there would have been grounds to interview Sir Edward, were he still alive, over claims he raped and assaulted boys as young as 10.

The late Lord Janner, who was accused of abusing children, may also be included in the probe. Investigations into Lord Janner have been dubbed a “shambolic witch hunt” by his son, Daniel Janner.

“This hearing will not investigate whether allegations, involving individuals associated with Westminster, of child sexual abuse are true or false,” a spokesperson for IICSA said. “These matters are for the police and the courts to decide.

“This investigation’s focus will be on the way in which Westminster institutions dealt with and responded to allegations of this nature and whether the right policies are in place if similar allegations are made in future.”

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party condemns child abuse and has welcomed and supported the work of the IICSA. We have participated fully with the inquiry in an open and transparent way and we believe that all responsible organisations who work with children should fully engage with the inquiry.

“The Labour Party voluntarily applied for core participant status so that we can fully participate in, and contribute to, the inquiry. There is no inference or implication of guilt in being a core participant. Our application to become a core participant demonstrates our commitment to safeguarding and protecting children.”

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