Child Sex Abuse: Failings in the Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam Review

Peter Wanless: Some failings in his inquiry PicCredit: www.thirdsector.co.uk

Peter Wanless: Some failings in his inquiry
Pic Credit: http://www.thirdsector.co.uk

Yesterday Theresa May, the home secretary was rightly called before Parliament by her shadow Yvette Cooper, to answer questions about the findings of the Wanless and Whittam Review into the missing dossier naming VIP paedophiles given to her predecessor, Leon Brittan by the late Geoffrey Dickens MP. If Yvette hadn’t done it, Tessa Munt, one of the” magnificent  seven” MPs who called for an overarching inquiry was already planning to do so.

The report with its 12 annexes was rushed out at 11.30 am leaving MPs of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee precious little time to digest it before questioning both authors in a session truncated because of the timing of May’s statement. No wonder Keith Vaz, its chairman, might have been a bit tetchy during May’s statement.

In conducting a meticulous search inside the Home Office  both  Wanless and Whittam did a thorough job – as far as they could – to try and find any references to  what appears to be a long destroyed document. They also exposed the chaotic state of the Home Office’s record keeping and if you look at the annexes to the report shed a little more light on other cases.

So far so good. They then seem to have asked other Whitehall organisations to conduct a search on their behalf but as Zac Goldsmith, the MP for Richmond, quizzed her over the failure to find anything at the old Director of Public Prosecutions, where the dossier was sent, still left a question in this area whether the work had been thorough.

They also seem to have spent some time chasing officials who held documents at the time they have been destroyed in  the hope that they might get them. This is important – even though their report is sceptical about it – because in one of my investigations for Exaro  official documents have turned up because someone kept them in their attic.

They also questioned the Home Office whistleblower who came forward to Tom Watson MP with his fears that a senior civil servant,Clifford Hindley, may have been involved in the funding of the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange.

But where they failed – and this was taken up by Steve McCabe, Labour’s shadow social services minister, – was in pursuing civil servants who were around at the time. The lame response from Theresa to appeal to people to come forward was not good enough.

Wanless and Whittam would have seen a lot of documents with civil servants’ names on them because of the way Whitehall has a distribution list for almost every document.Some may be dead, most will have retired.

But they missed an opportunity to be proactive and chase them up. For they must be accessible. They will all be on final salary pensions paid out by Whitehall. It would not be too difficult, to contact the semi privatised agency and get their names and addresses and ring them up. They might be a little outraged about their personal data being accessed – but this is an official inquiry to get to the facts. People do talk to each other – and also someone at the DPP at the time also got that dossier who may not want to disturb a pleasant retirement going on cruises and playing golf.

The result is that we have unsatisfactory verdict of ” not proven ” from this investigation which takes us little further than the Home Office’s original findings.

To get to the truth over child sexual abuse we are going to need a lot of lateral thinking and a sceptical investigative state of mind to prise out information. I hope the overarching child abuse inquiry takes this on board and treats the Wanless review with some forensic scepticism.

Magnificent Seven MPs champion survivors voices on new panel

Zac Goldsmith MP

Zac Goldsmith MP

The seven  MPs who demanded an overarching inquiry into child sexual abuse have written to Theresa May, the home secretary again – this time to say survivors must be appointed to the new independent panel.

My  report on  the Exaro website reveals that the seven have asked for a meeting to discuss who will sit on the panel and what the terms of reference should be.

The letter says: “If Lady Butler Sloss is to Chair the Inquiry, and given the many questions that have surrounded her appointment, it is essential that the group as a whole is absolutely robust, with a wide range of trusted representatives, including survivors.”

The good news is that all the MPs are agreed that survivor involvement is a must and a robust panel is essential. Zac Goldsmith said:”The strength and credibility of the inquiry will depend on the terms of reference and the panel of people, who must be absolutely bullet-proof.

The seven Mps are: Zac Goldsmith, Simon Danczuk ,Tessa Munt,Tom Watson,Tim Loughton,         Caroline Lucas and John Hemming.

It is excellent that the seven are emphasising the role for survivors and tough people on the inquiry. It is exactly what is needed. The signs are that Theresa May is willing to meet them possibly early this week as she is not expected to be affected by the reshuffle.

Exaro Exclusive: The magnificent seven MPs campaign for independent inquiry into historic child sex abuse

Zac Goldsmith MP

Zac Goldsmith MP

An important step was taken today when seven MPs wrote to Theresa May asking for an independent panel  inquiry to be launched into repeated failures by police to investigate thoroughly historic cases of child sexual abuse. They want the equivalent of the investigation into the Hillsborough disaster.The initiative came from Zac Goldsmith, the Conservative MP for Richmond, who has become acutely aware that the Met Police have still not got to the bottom of the historic child sex scandal at Elm Guest House in his constituency despite two people  due to stand trial.

He decided that the issue was too important to become a political football and that an all party approach – it involves MPs from four parties- Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green- was the best way forward.

Caroline Lucas MP

Caroline Lucas MP

 The result is revealed on the Exaro website today in two reports by me outlining the letter and the key cases where they have been repeated failures – every time police investigation have come near VIPs. evidence seems to have gone missing, dossiers lost,surveillance material disappearing, seized child porn DVDs lost and even police investigation reports possibly censored.

John Hemming MP

John Hemming MP

The first report on Exaro details the letter sent to Theresa May and the type of inquiry MPs want. The second report goes into more detail about what MPs want investigated. well as Zac, the other six MPs, are the former coalition children’s minister,Conservative MP Tim Loughton; Labour’s Tom Watson, who raised the question of a paedophile ring run by the late Peter Righton; Labour MP Simon Danczuk, the Rochdale MP who exposed further scandals around the late Sir Cyril Smith; Tess Munt, Liberal Democrat MP for Wells and parliamentary private secretary to Vince Cable, who has concerns about physical and sexual abuse in military schools; John Hemming, Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham, Yardley, who has raised similar issues of child sexual abuse, and Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, who expresses concern about the issue.

Simon Danczuk MP

Simon Danczuk MP

 These magnificent MPs have put their political differences aside and put their heads above the parapet. They do not mince their words about the unsatisfactory situation that still persists. 

Tim Loughton MP

Tim Loughton MP

 As Tim Loughton puts it:“Virtually every week, the public is bombarded with new stories about sexual abuse of children coming to light, yet they stretch as far back as the 1960’s.“Few areas have been left untouched with increasingly alarming stories involving schools, churches, care homes, entertainment, sport and of course politicians and celebrities.“Most alarming is a consistent theme of the reluctance or, more worryingly, the seeming complicity of police and other agencies to investigate the allegations seriously, and pursue the perpetrators rigorously.

“Documents go missing and investigations are curtailed with a chilling frequency, and that now threatens a serious undermining of the public’s confidence in our current child-protection system despite all the progress that has undoubtedly been made in recent years.”

Tessa Munt MP

Tessa Munt MP

It is really time to act.  Teflon Theresa May – not known as a shrinking violet in dealing with tough and controversial issues – should very seriously consider what the MPs want and why they feel driven to ask for it.

 

Tom Watson MP

Tom Watson MP