In Depth

Child sex abuse inquiry: First public hearings finally begin

Professor Alexis Jay will hear evidence on child migrants sent to Australia and abused last century

Former MI5 chief 'involved in child sex abuse cover-up'

23 July 2015

The former head of Britain's intelligence service urged the government to cover up allegations of child sexual abuse against a senior MP, freshly uncovered documents have revealed.

 

Writing to cabinet secretary Sir Robert Armstrong in 1986, MI5 director general Sir Antony Duff said "the risk of political embarrassment to the government is rather greater than the security danger".

 

The correspondence was about an unnamed MP who was alleged to have "a penchant for small boys," but Duff said he accepted the politician's denial of the abuse.

 

The documents, originally thought to have been lost or destroyed, were discovered in a Cabinet Office storeroom of "assorted and unstructured papers," The Times reports.

 

The discovery comes months after an official review into whether allegations of child abuse were covered up by the Home Office in the 1980s found no evidence that records were deliberately removed. 

 

However, in a supplementary report "quietly" released yesterday, the authors of the report condemned the government's record keeping and called for an extensive search of Whitehall archives.

 

The freshly unearthed files also include documents about senior Westminster figures including Margaret Thatcher's former parliamentary secretary Sir Peter Morrison, former home secretary Leon Brittan, and former minister Sir William van Straubenzee. The contents of those documents have not been revealed.

 

There are also papers relating to former MI6 chief Sir Maurice Oldfield and his alleged connection to the abuse scandals at the Kincora boys' home in Northern Ireland.

 

The Home Office said the files will be handed over to the child abuse inquiry, which began earlier this month. The police are also investigating the material.

 

Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP who has long campaigned on the issue of child sexual abuse and who exposed the Cyril Smith scandal, has called the documents "explosive".

 

"This confirms what I've long suspected – that the full weight of the British establishment, including MI5, colluded in a cover-up to protect politicians who sexually abused young boys." 

 

Child abuse inquiry begns with warning 'not to shred evidence'

9 July 2015

The long-awaited inquiry into historic child sex abuse and exploitation has finally begun in London after a year of delays and controversies.

The independent inquiry will consider whether public bodies and other non-state institutions have failed in their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales.

It will also examine whether these failings have been addressed and what steps need to be taken to prevent future abuse.

Home Secretary Theresa May first announced the investigation in July last year after claims emerged of high-level cover-up of abuse involving powerful public figures, including politicians.

The inquiry has been plagued by deferrals, resignations and infighting .Two previous chairs were forced to stand down from their positions over their apparent links to the establishment.

In her opening remarks today , Justice Lowell Goddard, a New Zealand high court judge and chair of the inquiry, said child abuse had left "permanent scars" on society and described the task ahead as daunting, the BBC reports.

She said she hoped the inquiry, believed to be the largest ever undertaken in Britain, would be completed by 2020. However, Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, said the inquiry could realistically last up to a decade.

Justice Goddard has also issued a fresh warning to the cabinet secretary, religious leaders and public bodies not to shred documents which might be needed in evidence.

There have been concern about the possible destruction of documents after the Home Office admitted that 114 files were "missing" from its archive last year, reports The Times.  

Thousands of victims of sexual abuse and exploitation are due to give evidence, but the inquiry has been criticised for not making it clear what support they will receive.

The NSPCC has stepped in with a team of trained councillors who will be running a free dedicated helpline for victims.

Its chief executive Peter Wanless said many victims had "harrowing stories to tell" and that the charity would try and make "what could be a tortuous journey as easy as possible".

Enoch Powell named by bishop in police sex abuse probe

30 March 2015

A Church of England bishop has reported Enoch Powell to police investigating allegations of a Westminster paedophile network.

The claims against the late Conservative MP, who made the infamous Rivers of Blood speech, are said to relate to "ritual satanic abuse" and were reported to a clergyman by a young person during a counselling session in the 1980s.The information was passed on to the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, who is responsible for "safeguarding" in the Church of England. He reported Powell to the police last year, but is not thought to have had any corroborating material.Powell's supporters have described the allegations as "absolute nonsense".The Church of England told the Mail on Sunday that Powell's name had been passed on to detectives from Operation Fernbridge, a Metropolitan Police inquiry into an alleged Westminster paedophile network. A spokesman said last night: "When allegations are made against individuals, it is quite proper to pass those allegations to the police and statutory authorities, without any investigation on our part and regardless of our own views."Scotland Yard said it does not identify individuals who are the subject of investigation.Powell's biographer Simon Heffer described the allegations as a "monstrous lie" and criticised those who put it into the public domain.He said the "post-Savile accusations" brought to mind the "hysteria" surrounding allegations of satanic abuse in the late 1980s and early 1990s. More than 80 of these alleged cases were found to have "no convincing corroborative evidence" when subsequently investigated by the London School of Economics, he added.Paul Goodman, a former Conservative MP and editor of ConservativeHome, has also written in defence of Powell, describing the "false claims" as part of a narrative that would "caricature a brilliant but flawed man as a pantomime villain".

Powell, a devout member of the Church of England and a Tory MP from 1950 until 1974, was dismissed as shadow defence secretary following his "rivers of blood" speech on immigration in 1968.

Justice Lowell Goddard: who is new chair of child abuse inquiry?

30 March 2015

Home Secretary Theresa May has named Justice Lowell Goddard, a New Zealand high court judge, as the new chairwoman of the government's beleaguered child abuse inquiry.

The wide-ranging inquiry into historical sex abuse claims was set up last year, but has struggled to get off the ground after its first two chairwomen, Baroness Butler-Sloss and Fiona Woolf, were forced to resign because of their links to 1980s establishment figures.

Today, May said she would dissolve the existing panel of advisors who were appointed last year and re-establish the inquiry with statutory powers so that it can force witnesses to give evidence and demand access to documents.

She said Goddard was "as removed as possible from the organisations and institutions that might become the focus of the inquiry".

So what do we know about Justice Lowell Goddard, the woman who will lead the inquiry?

Goddard graduated with a degree in law from the University of Auckland in 1974 and was admitted to the Bar in 1975.

Twenty years later she became the first person of Maori descent to be appointed to the High Court bench, presiding over a number of high-profile cases. In 2002, she sentenced a man who molested and stabbed to death his two stepdaughters in their beds to 28 years in prison, the country's longest imposed sentence since the abolition of the death penalty, says the New Zealand Herald.

Between 2007 and 2012, she served as chair of New Zealand's Independent Police Conduct Authority, the first woman to hold the position. In this role, she oversaw an inquiry into police handling of child abuse cases in New Zealand.

Goddard also sat on the United Nations subcommittee on the prevention of torture and was last year made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen's birthday honours for her services to law.

According to the Racehorse Owner's Federation, Goddard and her husband Christopher Hodson QC also have a passion for thoroughbred racing, breeding and eventing.

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