Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: An all party victory for MPs and abuse victims

No one would have thought a week ago that Theresa May, the home secretary, would have announced today an overarching inquiry into child sexual abuse.

The odds were stacked against it for the last two years as David Cameron kept insisting that police investigations had to go first before there could be any inquiry.

Today it all changed. and it was discovered that it was perfectly possible to have both an all embracing independent inquiry and complete the current police investigations at the same time.

The reason why this changed is a combination of persistent journalism, determined abuse victims and their campaigners and a group of very, very determined MPs who put  pressure on the Prime Minister and the Home secretary to act.

The biggest victors today are the child abuse victims – whose stories have been ignored, their suffering played down, and their search for justice thwarted for decades.

Now they will have – even if it takes a couple of years to complete – the promise of a tough, vigilant independent panel that will explore all avenues from  the failure to detect these scandals to how  victims can get proper help to cope with their  damaged lives. If it uses its power to abstract information from the security services and special branch we may well get to the bottom of why prominent people were protected and were safe for decades to practice their vile pursuits..

Rumours suggest that Theresa May  wants to appoint a powerful woman to run the inquiry  which would  send a powerful signal to male dominated Whitehall and Parliament that it means business.

Credit must be paid to hundreds of Twitter followers of Exaro and myself who raised questions with MPs – a powerful use of  new media to change minds and bring attention directly to the people involved./ Without Twitter it would have been much slower and more difficult to achieve the goal.

Tribute must be paid to some tireless MP campaigners – to Zac Goldsmith for the idea of all party approach, to Tom Watson for his gutsy raising of difficult questions and championing abuse victims, to Simon Danczuk for his persistence in pursuing the paedophile Sir Cyril Smith and to the heroic former children’s minister, Tim Loughton, for his organising skills and determination to seek justice and a new system of child protection that could change the climate in this country. Tessa Munt’s skills in honing the letter to the home secretary was crucial in pushing through the case.

For once I would say  the good side of Parliament has triumphed in representing the views of an outraged public who are still reeling from the exposure of loved household celebrities as paedophiles and wanted to see things changed.

Also I hope when journalism has suffered grievous damage from the phone hacking scandal  it has shown that there are investigative journalists – all my colleagues at Exaro – who are prepared to spend  time, energy and fortitude to try and expose accurately and carefully a national scandal and then campaign to get something done. I wish more journalists would do it.




Police forced by DPP to interview Leon Brittan as Lords back MPs for child sex abuse inquiry

Leon Brittan: Pic courtesy of the Guardia\n.

Leon Brittan: Pic courtesy of the Guardian.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, forced the Metropolitan Police Service to review how it had investigated the allegation against Leon (now Lord) Brittan that he raped a 19-year-old student in the summer of 1967 before he became an MP.

The full story  is on the Exaro website after my colleague Mark Conrad talked to the alleged victim called ” Jane”.

Saunders demanded to know from the Met why it had closed the case without even questioning him.

As a result, detectives interviewed Brittan under caution by appointment in the first half of June at his solicitors’ offices. Brittan issued a statement today saying the allegations are without foundation.

The latest disclosures come as the Home Secretary is to make a statement to Parliament about setting up an inquiry. Details will become clear exactly what inquiry it will be this afternoon.

Meanwhile as Exaro also reports that 11 peers have joined the 145 MPs  led by Zac Goldsmith calling for an overarching Hillsborough style inquiry They include Former High Court judge Baroness Butler-Sloss and the Bishop of Durham .

All this marks an extraordinary difference over one week when ministers wanted to brush the issue under the carpet or make sure nothing would happen on this issue for years to come.

I suspect the thought that MPs still discredited over the expenses disclosures were now going to be tarred with covering up alleged paedophiles with VIP connections was too much for the government. They would not want it to become a burning issue in the run up to an election when they will  be seeking people’s votes.


Cameron challenged on child sex abuse inquiry now backed by “fab 40” MPs

Zac Goldsmith MP

Zac Goldsmith MP

The demand for an independent panel to examine  police failures in investigating child sexual abuse going back years is rising in Parliament.

David Cameron was challenged by a Liberal Democrat MP Duncan Hames at Prime Minister’s Questions. Hames asked Cameron: “The prime minister will have heard calls from honourable members on all sides of the house for an independent inquiry on the Hillsborough model, into organised child sexual abuse in this country. Can he truly be satisfied that current police investigations are sufficient for the public to have confidence that we are both willing and able to get to the truth?”

Cameron implied that may not be granted at the moment but promised to look at it.

The demand for an inquiry – which began with an initiative by Zac Goldsmith, Mp for Richmond, has now expanded to 40 MPs from all parties.

The full story with the full list of MPs is on the Exaro website today. In the meantime thanks to all the Twitter followers of Exaro and to university lecturer Ian Pace, who has also been pressing for action and contacting MPs.

My magnificent seven have now become the fabulous forty.