Insurance companies tried to “suppress” information about child sex abuse in council care homes, a whistleblower has claimed.
Tim Hulbert, a retired civil servant and local authority chief, said he was “instructed” by a county council’s insurers not to admit liability or apologise to victims involved in a sex abuse investigation.
Mr Hulbert said he believed his experience – when he headed social services in Bedfordshire – had not been an isolated incident, and accused insurers of “immoral and obscene” behaviour which had allowed the full extent of abuse to remain hidden.
It came as Theresa May, the Home Secretary, came under renewed pressure to start the national child sex abuse inquiry as more than 300 abuse victims, whistleblowers, MPs and campaigners met at the Houses of Parliament.
Phil Frampton, a campaigner and survivor of abuse who chaired the meeting, said: “In our view the inquiry remains a mess.
“But we believe that Theresa May has the opportunity to rescue it.”
Mr Hulbert, who retired from Bedfordshire county council 20 years ago, has previously played a major role in exposing concerns about child sex abuse.
It emerged last year that when Mr Hulbert previously worked for the Home Office he challenged a decision to award taxpayers’ money to the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), which was formed in the 1970s to campaign for a reduction in the age of consent.
Mr Hulbert worked in the department’s Voluntary Services Unit which approved grants to various outside organisations in the late 1970s and early 80s, and challenged his manager over why money was being given to PIE.
He claims he was told the grants were sanctioned by Special Branch.
Mr Hulbert told the meeting: “Some insurers sought to suppress facts and justice for vulnerable young people in order to protect their own commercial interests.
“Put simply, out of greed.
“I find this approach immoral and obscene and I think it’s actually a part of the abuse that had been allowed to exist in this country.”
He declined to name the insurance company but said it was a household name and operated internationally.
Mr Hulbert said he had been advised by the insurance company not to admit liability or apologise because it “implied guilt”. Other council officers were also spoken to by the company along with senior councillors, he added.
Samantha Morton, the Oscar-nominated actress who disclosed last year that she was abused as a teenager, sent a message of support to the rally.
“We will not be forgotten and we will not be quiet,” she said.
“Abuse is happening right now to a child or an infant that is desperately in need of rescuing.”
Morton, who said in September she was abused by two residential care workers when she was in care in Nottingham in the Nineties, urged campaigners to “come together as one to stop child abuse and stop the perpetrators of this horrific crime”.
Two women appointed to lead the Government inquiry –Baroness Butler-Sloss, the retired judge, and Fiona Woolf, the Lord Mayor of London – had to resign last year after it emerged they had links with Lord Brittan of Spennithorne, whose conduct as a Cabinet minister in the Eighties is likely to come under scrutiny during the proceedings.
The Home Office has yet to announce a replacement.
by David Barrett