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Labour's Tom Watson facing grilling from MPs over role in Leon Brittan claims

Published 13/10/2015

Tom Watson has rebuffed Tory calls to apologise to the widow and family of Lord Brittan
Tom Watson has rebuffed Tory calls to apologise to the widow and family of Lord Brittan

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson is to face a grilling from MPs over his pursuit of sex abuse allegations against the late Conservative cabinet minister, Lord Brittan.

The Commons Home Affairs Committee said that it had "invited" Mr Watson to appear before them on October 21. The Metropolitan Police will also give evidence on the the same day.

The committee said in a statement it wanted to question Mr Watson "to clarify a number of points concerning his involvement in these matters".

The committee chair Keith Vaz said the evidence session would be confined to matters which were already in the public domain.

"The committee firmly believes that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which the Home Secretary has established under the chairmanship of Judge Lowell Goddard, is the most appropriate channel for these very important matters to be examined," he said.

"Our evidence session is therefore intended as a continuation of the regular series of very helpful regular updates which the committee received from the Metropolitan Police in the last Parliament and to hear evidence on a particular case.

"The committee fully appreciates that ongoing operational activities are a matter for the police and these areas will not be discussed during the session."

Mr Watson infuriated many Tory MPs when he rejected calls to apologise to the widow and family of Lord Brittan, who died in January without being told he had been cleared of a rape allegation.

The case had been reopened last year after Mr Watson wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions and police later interviewed Lord Brittan under caution, when he was seriously ill.

In the Commons on Monday, he insisted he was "right to demand the guidelines were adhered to" and that he was doing his duty by passing on information and pressing for an investigation.

He also made clear that he intended to continue championing the case of child abuse victims who had been too scared to speak out, adding: "If anyone deserves an apology it is them".

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