The announcement by the Independent Police Complaints Commission that it is to investigate cover ups inside the Metropolitan Police on historical child sexual abuse inquiries is game changing. It means not only are the Met Police convinced that evidence from survivors of a powerful paedophile ring that may have operated in Westminster and Whitehall needs investigating and people prosecuted but the Met Police conduct at the time needs to be held to account
As the IPCC Deputy Chair Sarah Green said:
“These allegations are of historic, high level corruption of the most serious nature.
“We will oversee the investigations and ensure that they meet the terms of reference that we will set. Allegations of this nature are of grave concern and I would like to reassure people of our absolute commitment to ensuring that the investigations are thorough and robust.”
The press release names Dolphin Square as one of the venues of the ring and also South London – linking possible venues like Elm Guest House in Barnes and Lambeth. It covers a number of investigations by exaro and disclosures on a closed website that former Met police officers working on these cases believed they had been stopped from pursuing important people.
Survivors and victims should at last be pleased that they are being taken seriously and must hope that this will really be a thorough detailed investigation that will not shy away from finding out who in the Met agreed or was told to close down such investigations .
However a word of warning it is to be – as the Danny Shaw, the BBC’s home affairs correspondent points out – a ” managed ” inquiry – meaning that the Met police’s own Professional Standards Body will carry out the investigation into the Met police. They will be overseen by the IPCC which is hit by not having enough resources due to the austerity measures.
In some ways this investigation parallels the equally appalling murder of Daniel Morgan – current the subject of an independent panel inquiry into the murder of the private investigator. The evidence from the Met Police finally handed over late last year should also open up inquiries into why leading figures in the Met never got a successful prosecution.
What can be said now is that these lurid allegations against MPs, senior Cabinet ministers, spies and the various churches- which some commentators believe must be false – have to be taken seriously and cannot just be ignored.
The investigation I hope will go some way to restore trust in the police to conduct such inquiries in the future and also show those who thought they could cover up matters in the 1970s and 1980s will not get away with it.
The inquiry has to be seen to be robust, transparent and thorough and getting to the root of the many scandals in the capital. If it doesn’t suspicions will remain. it will require nerves of steel to tackle the prominent people who stand accused.