Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Abuse claims police matter - Clegg

Nick Clegg has said a full police investigation is the best way to look into allegations of historic paedophile activity in Westminster

Nick Clegg has said a public inquiry into allegations of historic paedophile activity in Westminster would be "no surrogate" for a full police investigation, amid growing calls for a root-and-branch investigation into any potential cover-up.

Yesterday former home secretary Lord Brittan defended his handling of a 1980s dossier alleging paedophile activity in Westminster - after the Government admitted it appeared to have been destroyed.

Speaking on ITV's Good Morning Britain today, the Deputy Prime Minister said: "I just want the truth to come out and justice to be done. When we're dealing with allegations of such a serious criminal nature, I don't think there's any surrogate, really, for allowing the police to get to the bottom of what happened."

Lord Brittan initially stated yesterday that he had asked officials to look into the issue, and did not "recall being contacted further about these matters by Home Office officials or by Mr Dickens (MP Geoffrey Dickens who prepared the dossier) or by anyone else".

But he said later: "The Home Office independent review is entirely consistent with the action I set out in my earlier statement. Whilst I could not recall what further action was taken 30 years ago, the information contained in this report shows that appropriate action and follow-up happened."

Lord Brittan's intervention came after Labour MP Simon Danczuk urged him to spell out what he knew about the Dickens dossier - believed to have contained information about the Paedophile Information Exchange (Pie) and abuse networks operating around Westminster.

Mr Danczuk, who has investigated claims of abuse by ex-MP Cyril Smith, is calling for a "Hillsborough-style" inquiry to prevent allegations involving politicians being "swept under the carpet".

He insisted there was "no reason" why the dossier should have been destroyed by the Home Office.

It prompted calls for a public inquiry, similar to the investigation into the deaths of 96 football fans in the Hillsborough stadium disaster.

Former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "It sounds to me as though there needs to be further investigation into this. Some of the detail is more than troubling. It's always alarming when material goes missing.

"This may just be the passage of time, it may not be anything sinister, but I don't think people are going to be satisfied for this to be left as it is."

Labour MP John Mann told PM an over-arching inquiry was "essential".

The Bassetlaw MP said: "There's more and more of this coming up. It goes to the heart of the establishment, and the key institutions of the country have been involved in doing nothing about it. That's why there needs to be a full public inquiry."

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Mr Clegg said: "I want to see the police getting to the bottom of what's alleged to have happened, which is absolutely horrific in some children's homes up and down the country. A number of police inuqiries are already going on.

"I really would say to anybody who has any evidence, knowledge or information about what happened of a criminal nature, please get in touch with the police. They're the people who can do the job so that justice can finally be done and these very, very serious allegations can be looked into.

"I can't provide too much commentary on what happened in the Home Office in the mid-1980s, but he (Lord Brittan) explained that he passed on this dossier. The Home Office explained last year that the document doesn't exist."

Downing Street continued to resist calls for an over-arching inquiry and said people with information about abuse should go to the police.

T he Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "If there are allegations, evidence of wrongdoing, that people have, then of course they should bring that to the attention of the relevant authorities, including the police of course."

That was "the right way to go about getting to the bottom of these things", he added.

He said that the Home Office review "explains that information following that review was given to the police".

Only the executive summary of the review was published, but asked if the document would be published in full the spokesman said: "My understanding is that the executive summary reflects very fully the report."

Mr Cameron had not spoken to Lord Brittan about the issue, the spokesman said.

Labour crime and security spokeswoman Diana Johnson said: "The Home Office and Home Secretary's reaction to allegations of incompetence in dealing with allegations of child sex abuse has been lamentable.

"Serious questions about how these allegations were handled remain and a review carried in haste by two officials does not reflect the seriousness of the issues at hand.

"At the very least, the Government must explain what action was taken in the 1980s and what files were destroyed. A proper investigation is needed into these allegations, into what happened, and also into how the Government of the day and others responded.

"In addition to this investigation, it is also clear that we need an over-arching review - led by experts - to bring together the findings of all these inquiries and look at child protection for the future."

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