THERESA MAY

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New Cyril Smith whitewash: Police clear themselves over 1960s probe into paedophile MP

Published March 18, 2015 by JS2
  • Lancashire Police had been accused of covering up Cyril Smith’s crimes
  • But force bosses face claims of a ‘whitewash’ after it cleared itself of blame
  • They found ‘no evidence’ attempts to bring Smith to justice were blocked 
  • Contradicts claims by retired detective that key evidence was ‘locked away’ and they were silenced 

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A police force accused of covering up Cyril Smith’s crimes faced claims of a ‘whitewash’ last night after it cleared itself of blame.

Lancashire Police chiefs declared they found ‘absolutely no evidence’ that attempts to bring the paedophile Liberal MP to justice were blocked.

The internal inquiry contradicts claims by retired detectives that key evidence was ‘locked away’ and they were silenced.

Labour MP Simon Danczuk, whose book about Smith’s sordid double life sparked the investigation, last night accused the force of a whitewash.

He said there is a ‘mountain of evidence’ that Smith was a paedophile and serious failings had allowed him to ‘get away with his crimes for years’.

‘It is very disappointing that Lancashire Police are unable to accept this and are now trying to rubbish the claims of their own former officers,’ Mr Danczuk added.

‘This shows that we haven’t learned lessons from the past and a culture of cover-up and denial still persists.’

The outcome of the inquiry will raise questions over whether it is appropriate for police to investigate themselves in such cases.

Yesterday, the independent police watchdog revealed it is overseeing 14 claims of cover-ups and corruption by Scotland Yard in historic sex abuse cases. The London force will also investigate itself.

MPs want Prime Minister David Cameron to guarantee police whistleblowers will not be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act if they come forward.

They said ex-officers, public officials and spies may hold vital information that could open up suspected powerful networks that protected abusers.

Home Secretary Theresa May yesterday insisted spies and police will not face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act if they give evidence to the police or the Home Office’s abuse inquiry.

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She has invited Justice Goddard, who is leading the inquiry, to seek confirmation from the Attorney General that no charges would be brought.

However, when pressed by the Home Affairs Committee, Mrs May declined to extend the protection to whistleblowers who speak to the media or elsewhere in public.

Police suspect Smith’s activities as a paedophile could be key to unlocking claims of an Establishment child sex ring. The politician abused children at care homes and schools in Rochdale and Manchester.

He was also seen at the notorious Elm Guest House, in Barnes, south-west London, where appalling crimes are said to have taken place involving young boys.

Jack Tasker, a former Lancashire detective, who led one of three investigations into Smith, said it was stopped because it could have led to the ‘fall of the Government’.

He claims his 1969 inquiry into abuse at Cambridge House care home was stalled by Special Branch officers who confiscated his notes and ordered him to forget the matter.

‘We were under the impression then that they’d take the investigation over … but I never heard any more about it,’ he told Sky News. He added: ‘Other people were rather worried that if Cyril Smith went before a court, he would open his mouth.’

Another ex-officer, Tony Robinson, said he had advised Lancashire Police to look at the case file he found locked in a Special Branch safe in the 1970s.

‘It doesn’t surprise me at all that they’ve dismissed the claims,’ he said. ‘It’s an easy way out.’

A Lancashire Police spokesman said it had referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission which ‘determined that a local investigation be carried out’.

He added that the Constabulary’s Professional Standards Department found ‘absolutely no evidence to substantiate any of the claims’.

Chris Greenwood & Jaya Narain

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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

Sex abuse victims accidentally named by MPs

Published January 29, 2015 by JS2

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The names of child sex abuse victims have been accidentally published by MPs.

The House of Commons’ home affairs select committee, chaired by Keith Vaz MP, made four victims’ names public on its website as part of its inquiry into the Home Office’s handling of the issue.

Some of the victims named in the documents said they have been approached by abusers and even received death threats.

In a letter to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, a group of abuse survivors said: “It has exposed us as individuals, making us feel vulnerable, and is having a huge impact on our work.”

Earlier this week Mr Vaz said he was aiming for “transparency” by publishing the 96 page dossier, which is believed to have been leaked by Sharon Evans, a member of the Home Office’s abuse panel.

The documents included email discussions between officials working on the sex abuse inquiry, and were disclosed to the committee in a bid to support claims that Mrs Evans had been bullied by another member of the inquiry team.

However, the home affairs committee made the documents public in an unedited form, and has now been forced to go back and redact the names of victims and other sensitive details.

A letter signed by the four people who were named, and by 14 other individuals, said: “Named individuals/survivors have been subjected to social media hate campaigns as a result of the disclosures and negative attitudes expressed by some panel members.

“The way the panel members have discussed other survivors, specifically [name], [name], [name] and [name] is a shameful reflection of their lack of responsibility and knowledge of the issues.

“It has exposed us as individuals, making us feel vulnerable and having a huge impact on our work and organisations.

“[Name] and his young daughter have been targeted by convicted abuser [name].

“The tabloids have called for comment with information on our family members and we have received death threats.

“As individuals – who are also survivors – to experience this without the offer of support or apology from the home affairs select committee, the secretariat or the Home Office is a shameful reflection of process.

“It has created divisions among survivors and groups which is an unforgivable consequence of attempts to secure public support for individual panel members without regard for the overall aims of the inquiry.”

Mr Vaz issued a short statement which insisted the names were “already in the public domain”.

“Last week, some material from the independent panel inquiry into child sexual abuse came into the committee’s possession in the course of our inquiry,” he said.

“The material included directions to panel members about how they should answer questions from the committee, as well as e-mail exchanges between panel members about the panel’s external communications strategy.

“These emails included the names of third parties.

“At the request of the individuals concerned the material has been redacted to remove references to these individuals.

“The names of all these individuals were already in the public domain.”

David Barrett Home affairs Correspondent

Sex claims file ‘already seen’

Published January 22, 2015 by JS2

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Home Secretary Theresa May answers an urgent question about historical child sex abuse claims

Allegations of “unnatural sexual” behaviour at Westminster contained in a file found at the National Archives may have already been seen by an inquiry into the Home Office’s handling of historic sex abuse claims, Theresa May has said.

The Home Secretary said the previously top-secret file may be a duplicate of one that was already looked at by NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless and barrister Richard Whittam QC’s inquiry into paedophile ring allegations in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

University lecturer Dr Chris Murphy uncovered the once-classified document late last year at the archives in Kew, south west London.

Mrs May was answering an urgent question from shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper on the the current institutional child sex abuse inquiry.

After being questioned on the file, which was marked to indicate it had passed through former prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s office, Mrs May told the Commons: “You have made reference to the file that has come to light.

“We are checking that today but as I understand it we believe it may be a duplicate of a file that was at the Home Office which was seen by Wanless and Whittam during their review but of course we are checking that.

“Any allegations in relation to that file will be passed to the police and those concerned to ensure that they are looked at properly.”

The file which was found by Dr Murphy in November came to light yesterday.

It was entitled: “PREM19/588 – SECURITY. Allegations against former public (word missing) of unnatural sexual proclivities; security aspects 1980 Oct 27 – 1981 Mar 20.”

The “PREM” category of files covers documents and correspondence that passed through the prime minister’s office. Sir Bernhard Ingham, former press secretary of Mrs Thatcher, told reporters he could not recall the file.

The Cabinet Office has said the file was “kept closed and retained as it contained information from the security services and advice from the Law Officers” but that any documents pertinent to the sex abuse inquiry would be passed to it.

Mrs May set up the inquiry in July to find out whether public bodies had neglected or covered up allegations of child sex abuse in the wake of claims paedophiles had operated in Westminster in the 1980s.

She announced today that a new chair would be appointed by the end of the month following a series of problems, including the resignation of two previous chairs over their alleged links to Establishment figures of the time.

The Home Secretary will also decide whether it will take the form of a statutory inquiry or a royal commission by the end of January, with both options having the power to compel witnesses and full access to evidence.

Mrs May said: “I am clear that the new chairman must be someone who commands that confidence and who has the necessary skills and experience to carry out this vital work.

“In my work to find that person, as I told the House I would do, I have undertaken a number of meetings with the survivors of child abuse and their representative bodies And I have been deeply moved by the candour and the courage they have shown in telling me their harrowing stories and the experiences they have been through.

“I am absolutely committed to finding them the right chairman to ensure they get the answers they deserve.

“But not only does this inquiry need the right Chairman, it also needs the right powers.

“That means the ability to compel witnesses, and full access to all the necessary evidence.

“In December I wrote to panel members to set out the three options which could give the inquiry these powers.

“I confirmed those options in my evidence that month to the Home Affairs Select Committee, and I also confirmed that I would make my decision on the right model for the inquiry and the chairman by the end of January.

“It remains my intention to make a statement to the House shortly after I have made that decision and after the necessary interviews and careful due diligence work have taken place.”

Ms Cooper called for the inquiry to be scrapped and relaunched with a new chair and statutory powers.

The Labour frontbencher said: “Since November the allegations have become more serious.

“The police are now investigating allegations of child murder involving senior figures linked to Dolphin Square.

“A government file has emerged containing further potential allegations of abuse, clearly not seen by the Wanless review.

“These need to be investigated by the police, not just an inquiry, but it makes it even more vital that a serious and credible inquiry is under way with the confidence of the public and survivors.

“Given the seriousness of this, I now fear there is no choice but to start this inquiry again properly with a new chair and statutory powers and proper consideration of the scope and purpose involving the survivors themselves.

“This should not be beyond the wit of the Home Secretary.”

Mrs May came under pressure to publish the file from MPs including campaigner Labour’s Simon Danzcuk (Rochdale), who said the inquiry was starting to make Chilcot look “punctual and efficient”.

He asked: “Why doesn’t the Government now publish that file so that we can judge its importance?”

The Home Secretary replied: “My understanding is that the Cabinet Office file is being looked at. They are looking at the file making sure it can be passed to the National Archives.

“That would of course effectively make it public. That may require some redaction to take place.

“But I think everybody is aware that we want to ensure that the information that needs to be available is available.”

Labour’s Tom Watson (West Bromwich East), who has also campaigned on the issue, said there was a “clear public interest” in knowing whether a former prime minister had received a briefing on sexual crimes allegedly committed by a senior intelligence officer or officers.

He went on: “Regardless of whether the inquiry gets to see the document, can you not commit to publish the document now in the public interest or at least commit to give it to members of the Home Affairs Select Committee as part of their inquiry?”

Mrs May said again that the file had been passed to the police, adding: “I can assure the House that the file will be made available as it is my intention that all files should be made available to the inquiry.

“So it can be appropriately looked at and considered in the work they are doing.”

Labour’s Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak), a former social worker, then added his voice to the call for publication suggesting it should only take a few days to establish whether the document was indeed a duplicate.

He said: “Given the cloud of suspicion, I can’t believe it can take more than a couple of days to clarify whether it is a duplicate or a withheld file.

“Will you agree to come back to the House next week and tell us which it is?”

Mrs May said she would cover the issue of the file in the statement she makes on the chairmanship of the inquiry panel, due before the end of this month.

The Home Secretary was also criticised for the delays to the inquiry.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said Mrs May was “in danger of losing control of the process” and raised concerns about the allegation of bullying of a panel member by the inquiry’s barrister.

Mrs May said survivor Sharon Evans’s complaint had been investigated and no evidence of bullying found by Ben Emmerson QC.

Labour’s Sarah Champion (Rotherham) said the inquiry had now become a “farce” and her veteran colleague David Winnick (Walsall North) said even someone with the aim of sabotage could not have done a better job of throwing it off course.

He said: “If someone had set out to wreck the whole process from the very beginning, that person could not have done a more effective job. It is a tragedy.

“As far as the survivors are concerned, what has occurred is a tragedy, first that they were abused and now what appears to them at least is a farce since the inquiry was first established.”

Labour’s Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) asked Mrs May if she had considered resigning over the inquiry.

He said: “There have been a lot of casualties in this very sensitive process. Have you, with the great authority that the Home Office holds, have you ever considered that you might be the problem?

“Have you considered the unthinkable? Have you considered resigning?”

Mrs May said she was firmly committed to getting the inquiry up and running fully with a chairman.

She added: “I have apologised to the House. I have apologised to survivors for the fact that two chairmen resigned.

“But I also say to you it is this Government that has agreed to set up this inquiry. Yes we are now in a position where we have to look at a further chairman. But we have an inquiry set up in terms of a panel.

“We have an intention to ensure the inquiry does get fully up and running with a chairman and that we get to the truth. That is what everybody wants.”

Conservative Philip Hollobone (Kettering) asked whether Mrs May had been able to cut the long list of candidates for the new chairman down to a shortlist.

She said it was now “quite a short list” but would not go further than that.

Labour’s Paul Flynn (Newport West) suggested the Government look again at the scope of the inquiry given the vast areas to be covered, including allegations that whips concealed evidence of paedophilia by MPs so they could blackmail them in the division lobbies.

Telegraph & Argus

Mrs May said it was important not to leave out any matters.

Child sex abuse inquiry panel suspends all work

Published January 21, 2015 by JS2

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Members of the Government’s inquiry into historic child sex abuse have refused to do any more work until their future is decided

The troubled inquiry into child sex abuse has suspended its work until Theresa May, the Home Secretary, makes a firm decision on its future.

The independent panel has said it will not hold any further meetings with victims until either a chairman is appointed or a decision is taken whether to replace it.

The move has plunged the inquiry in to further chaos and delays and comes just a day after evidence emerged of tension and infighting within the panel.

But the rest of the panel distanced themselves from the claims.

However, it is understood the dispute was the final straw and members have now decided to suspend all work until clarity over its future is given.

A statement on the inquiry website said: “The panel has made the difficult choice to delay all scheduled listening meetings until after the Home Secretary has made her decision on the future of the panel and has announced who will be appointed as Chair.

“The purpose of the listening meetings was for the panel to hear the views of victims and survivor organisations about the work and direction of the Inquiry.

“However, given the uncertainty over the future shape of the Inquiry, the panel feels that all upcoming listening meetings would not fulfil that intended aim.

“They also understand that for some victims and survivors the decision to attend a meeting might be both difficult and courageous, and did not think it appropriate to ask them to share their views about an Inquiry where there is a lack of certainty about its future shape.”

The inquiry was set up by Mrs May in July to find out whether public bodies had neglected or covered up allegations of child sex abuse in the wake of claims paedophiles had operated in Westminster in the Eighties.

It has already been hit by the resignations of both Baroness Butler-Sloss and then Dame Fiona Woolf as the chairman after each became entangled in allegations of conflict of interest.

But the panel had, until now, been determined to continue the work until a new chairman was appointed.

The Home Secretary revealed in a letter last month that she was considering standing down the current panel in favour of a royal commission or a new inquiry on statutory terms.

On Tuesday Sharon Evans, a child abuse survivor, accused the inquiry’s lawyer, Ben Emmerson QC, of “overstepping the mark” including claims he had put pressure on how she should give evidence to a parliamentary committee.

Mrs Evans, chief executive of the Dotcom Children’s Foundation, which helps prevent children from becoming victims of violence or abuse, told the home affairs select committee she felt “bullied and intimidated”.

In a statement after the hearing Mr Emmerson claimed Mrs Evans had repeatedly disclosed confidential information from panel meetings and it was his duty to raise that with her.

He said the allegations of bullying and intimidation were “entirely baseless” and that his advice “was legally correct and entirely necessary in the circumstances”.

In a separate statement, the rest of the panel said it had “full confidence in the integrity, advice and impartiality of counsel to the Inquiry”.

The Telegraph

Westminster sex probe member ‘bullied by QC’

Published January 20, 2015 by JS2

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A MEMBER of the independent panel into child sexual abuse has told MPs she has been “bullied” by the barrister conducting the embattled inquiry.

Home Secretary Theresa May set up the inquiry to find out whether public bodies had neglected or covered up allegations of child sex abuse in the wake of claims paedophiles had operated in Westminster in the 1980s.

Panel member Sharon Evans, a child abuse survivor and chief executive of the Dot Com Children’s Foundation, which helps prevent children from becoming victims of violence or abuse, told the Home Affairs Select Committee she felt “bullied” by counsel to the inquiry Ben Emmerson QC.

Ms Evans said Mr Emmerson was “overstepping the mark” with his advice, including demands she re-write letters sent to the Home Secretary and agreed he was “running the show”.

Chair of the committee Keith Vaz asked Ms Evans about reported concerns she had over alleged threats made by Mr Emmerson in respect of evidence she would give to the Committee.

Ms Evans said: “I do feel concerned, very concerned, yes.”

She went on: “I believe I have been called here today – I was appointed, I was told, as the media person for the independent panel and to help understand a survivor perspective and I feel that I was told today that we must speak with a collective voice.

“I feel that would prevent me from answering some of your questions honestly.”

Ms Evans said she was concerned about the “independence” of the inquiry in relation to advice she had received from one adviser, adding that letters she had sent to the Home Secretary had been re-written by him.

“I felt very bullied,” she told the Committee. “He was overstepping the mark with advice and re-writing of letters.”

Mr Vaz started the session by reminding the panel members it would be a contempt of the house for anyone to threaten them over evidence they wanted to give to the Committee.

Ms Evans was joined by panel members Drusilla Sharpling, Professor Jenny Pearce and Professor Alexis Jay.

The inquiry was announced in July but still has no chairman, following the resignations of the Government’s first two choices, and doubts remain over plans to give it extra powers.

Previous appointments as inquiry chairwomen Fiona Woolf and Baroness Butler-Sloss resigned following claims about their perceived closeness to establishment figures.

The Home Secretary revealed in a letter last month that she was considering standing down the current panel in favour of a royal commission or a new inquiry on statutory terms.

Panel member Jenny Pearce, Professor of Young People and Public Policy at the University of Bedfordshire, who was recently awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for research on child sexual exploitation influencing safeguarding, told MPs the panel work must “carry on”.

She said: “The work must carry on, it’s a very important inquiry. The work of the inquiry must carry on.”

The Government insisted it still expected the panel to be up and running under its new chair by the end of March, when Parliament is dissolved ahead of the general election.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We want to get this right. We understand very much that concerns have been raised previously by victims and victims’ groups about the process that is being followed. We have been very clear in our determination to get that right.”

Asked if the panel would be established under the new chair by the end of March, the spokesman said: “I do think that you will see this set up in the coming period.”

Yorshire Post

Theresa May’s child abuse inquiry shame: Counting the days since Home Secretary promised victims justice

Published January 18, 2015 by JS2

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Theresa May’s handling of the historic child abuse inquiry has been shambolic

Today marks 196 days since Theresa May announced her inquiry into historic child sex abuse – and the nation is STILL waiting for it.

The Home Secretary now has the choice of 100 candidates to chair the inquiry after two she appointed slipped through her fingers.

But Mrs May is still dithering over who it should be.

Last week we put six crucial questions to her which she declined to answer.

So today the Sunday People launches the May-o-meter to monitor how long survivors of abuse are to be denied justice.

We want to shame the Home Secretary into pulling her finger out before the General Election in May.

On 7 July last year she announced an ­independent inquiry to ­investigate the way ­public bodies handled child sex abuse claims.

It was to be led by former judge Elizabeth Butler-Sloss.

But a week later the baroness had to stand down because her late brother Sir Michael Havers, who was ­attorney general in the 1980s, was allegedly involved in sex parties with rent boys.

On 5 September, Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf was named as new head of the inquiry.

But by 31 October she was gone after it emerged she dined five times with former Home Secretary Lord Brittan in 2008-2012.

Labour MP John Mann said yesterday: “This has dragged on far too long. Victims are losing faith and the Home Secretary must sort this mess out.”

But a Home Office spokesman said: “We have to balance the need to make progress with the need to get this right.

“The Home Secretary is absolutely committed to ensuring the inquiry has the confidence of survivors who must be at the heart of this process.

“She has also made it clear the inquiry should be placed on a statutory footing with powers to compel people to give evidence. She is considering options for doing this.”

Six questions we asked Theresa May to answer

  1. When will your inquiry begin?
  2. Why is there still a delay in getting it off the ground?
  3. What evidence have you gathered in the meantime?
  4. Will the existing panel be disbanded?
  5. Are you any nearer to appointing a chair for the inquiry?
  6. Will you be looking abroad for a new chair?

By Nigel Nielson