Justice Goddard

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Home Office under fire over missing child abuse files review

Published July 23, 2015 by JS2

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Newly discovered government documents also relate to senior Westminster figures, including Leon Brittan

The Home Office is facing criticism over a review into the department’s handling of the 1980s Dickens dossier of paedophilia allegations.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, was brought in to investigate in July after an internal Home Office review found no evidence of a dossier of suspected child abusers compiled by Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens in the 1980s.

The internal review also found that between 1979 and 1999 the department had “lost or destroyed” 114 files relating to child abuse.

Wanless has also reportedly failed to uncover the files or the dossier and is expected to criticise the Home Office’s record-keeping and archiving when he publishes his report later today.

He is expected to agree with the department’s findings that there is no evidence to suggest the missing files had been removed or destroyed inappropriately.

The Home Office says the department did consider the allegations contained in the Dickens dossier at the time and passed on 13 “items of information” to the police and prosecutors.

However, Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who raised the issue of the missing dossier earlier this year, has complained that the timescale for the Wanless review has not allowed for more sophisticated digital tracing techniques to be used.

“That raises serious questions about the scope of the investigations and, frankly, leaves a question mark over any of its findings,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

Mark Sedwill, the department’s permanent secretary, said the review had analysed a central database containing 746,000 files from the period 1979 to 1999.

Labour has also been critical of Home Secretary Theresa May’s decision to publish the Wanless report in a written ministerial statement rather than face questions from MPs in the Commons.

“The failure by Wanless to throw any new light on the fate of the allegations by Dickens is likely to fuel the continuing row over the establishment of a national overarching inquiry into historical allegations of child sex abuse,” says The Guardian.

The Home Secretary has already apologised for the delays to the overarching inquiry after Fiona Woolf, the second chair appointed to lead the inquiry stood down over her links to Lord Brittan.

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Theresa May: Sex abuse runs through every level of society like a ‘stick of rock’

Published March 14, 2015 by JS2

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The Home Secretary says that people across Britain do not yet “appreciate the true scale” of the abuse and that once the inquiry is done “we will never look at society in the same way again”.

A major inquiry into child abuse will reveal that sexual exploitation runs through every level of British society like a “stick of Blackpool rock”, Theresa May warns today.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the Home Secretary, says that people across Britain do not yet “appreciate the true scale” of the abuse and that once the inquiry is done, “we will never look at society in the same way again”.

In a highly personal intervention, Mrs May says that the panel, being led by Justice Lowell Goddard, will encourage more victims of abuse to come forward and lead to perpetrators being brought to justice.

“I hope and believe it will give all victims and survivors a voice,” Mrs May says. “For too long nobody listened, nobody wanted to admit the darkness in our midst.”

She warns that “the trail” will lead into schools, hospitals, churches and youth clubs as well as “and many other institutions that should have been places of safety but instead became the setting for the most appalling abuse”.

What we have seen so far is “only the tip of the iceberg”, Mrs May says.

Mrs May set up the inquiry into child abuse following revelations about the crimes committed by Jimmy Savile as well as disclosures about abuse in Derby, Oxford and towns across Britain.

There were also a series of allegations about a Westminster paedophile ring.

“The inquiry won’t probe individuals but where there is evidence a person has abused their position – no matter how high or how low that position – it will be passed to the police to investigate,” Mrs May writes. “So if there has been a cover-up, we will uncover it. And if perpetrators of child sexual abuse are found, they will be brought to justice.

“The inquiry won’t examine abuse that has taken place within the family but it is my hope that by confronting the issue head on, it will encourage more people to come forward and report such abuse to the authorities. And I hope and believe it will give all victims and survivors a voice. For too long nobody listened, nobody wanted to admit the darkness in our midst.”

Justice Goddard, a new Zealand High Court judge, was named by Mrs May as the new head of the inquiry, which will examine allegations of an establishment cover-up of abuse spanning decades.

The appointment of Justice Goddard, 65, followed the loss of two former chairmen who stood down over perceived conflicts of interest due to their personal connections with establishment figures.

Admitting failings in the way the inquiry was initially set up, Mrs May says “It is a matter of public record that the inquiry had a difficult beginning. We did not realise the degree to which survivors mistrusted the political establishment.

“And we set up the inquiry in the way Whitehall always sets up inquiries. But it wasn’t enough for survivors to have the inquiry, its chairman and its terms of reference presented to them as a fait accompli. We needed to work with survivors if we were going to get those things right. It was through this collaboration that my understanding of this complex issue grew.”

Peter Dominiczak