Theresa May said that she couldn’t say that the Home Office was definitely not involved in covering up historic child abuse allegations in a House of Commons debate this week.
An official inquiry, by head of the NSPCC Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC, had been unable to “prove or disprove” the claims that the department was involved in a cover-up. Theresa May has asked police and MI5 to carry out further reviews of how they handled allegations of child sex abuse.
At the heart of the issue are a trove of files that have gone missing.
There are 114 files from the 1970s and 80s containing allegations of institutional paedophilia that have gone missing or been destroyed.
Mr Wanless said that one of the files had been destroyed as recently as 2012. This file referred the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), a pro-paedophile activist group active between 1974 and 1984.
One of their campaigns was about trying to reduce the age of consent to just 4 years old.
It’s believed that there are ten more files relating to PIE.
The group got support from both the left and the right in 1970s Britain. Labour politician Harriet Harman was among young left-wingers who worked for the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), the left-wing group that granted “affiliated” status to PIE.
The NCCL supported PIE by campaigning on the issue of sexual consent; they submitted a response to a government plan to reform sex laws that argued “childhood sexual experiences, willingly engaged in with an adult result in no identifiable damage”.
The NCCL also allowed Tom O’Carroll, leader of PIE, to make a speech at their Spring conference in 1977. He later admitted and was convicted for distributing child porn images.
Members from PIE were involved in NCCL activities until the early 80s when they were expelled from the organisation. Last year, current Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti apologised for their connection, saying “it is a source of continuing disgust and horror that even the NCCL had to expel paedophiles from its ranks in 1983”.
The Home Office allegedly gave the Paedophile Information Exchange £70,000 of taxpayers’ money in grants between 1977 and 1980, according to a whistleblower who spoke to the Sunday People.
That’s £400,000 in today’s money.
But it’s difficult to get to the bottom of why – as the files have disappeared and some of the people involved have passed on.
PIE regularly published magazines promoting paedophilia as a sexual preference rather than an abusive act.
The leader of PIE, Tom O’Carroll, wrote a book called Paedophilia: The Radical Case.
It was supported for 6 years by the National Council for Civil Liberties, which has since become Liberty.
There were 180 members, two of whom were female.
But the main things to think about here are: Did they really receive that much money? And why can’t we find out?