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Westminster sex claim file found

Allegations of "unnatural sexual" behaviour at Westminster are contained within a previously top-secret file found at the National Archives.

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

Dr Murphy told Sky News he was shocked to come across the file in November, entitled: "PREM19/588 - SECURITY. Allegations against former public [word missing] of unnatural sexual proclivities; security aspects 1980 Oct 27 - 1981 Mar 20."

"I think I did a double-take and then started wondering what the potential implications of the title, which is a little vague, could be," he said.

The "PREM" category of files covers documents and correspondence that passed through the prime minister's office. Sir Bernhard Ingham, former press secretary of then PM Margaret Thatcher, told reporters he could not recall the file.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: "In this case, the file was kept closed and retained as it contained information from the security services and advice from the Law Officers.

"These classifications are reviewed periodically."

Asked whether it would be released to the current institutional child sex abuse inquiry, the spokeswoman added: " We are clear that any files that are pertinent to the historical child sex abuse inquiry will be made available to the panel."

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.

Mrs May announced the inquiry in July but it has been beset by problems following the resignations of the Government's first two choices for chairman and doubts 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.

Sharon Evans, a child abuse survivor and member of the panel last night told MPs she had been ''bullied'' by the barrister conducting the embattled inquiry - Ben Emmerson QC.

Mr Emmerson said Ms Evans' allegations were "entirely baseless".

Keith Vaz, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the group of MPs would call the barrister to give evidence on his work with the panel.

"These developments must be leaving the survivors aghast," Mr Vaz said.

In November a report by NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless and barrister Richard Whittam QC into how the Home Office handled paedophile ring allegations in the 1970s, 80s and 90s was released.

It found no evidence of a cover-up but warned it was impossible to draw firm conclusions.

Commenting on the discovery of the mysterious file at the Archives, Mr Wanless said: "Under the specific terms of reference set by the Home Office we made the most extensive inquiries possible within a very limited time frame.

"This specific file was not revealed by any department or individual we consulted. Our remit was to go back over a review by the Home Office and not undertake a new investigation.

"If there is pertinent material in this file it should be submitted to the sexual abuse inquiry as well as the relevant police force so they can conduct a criminal investigation if necessary."

Liz Dux, abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, which represents more than 800 abuse victims, said: "This file must not only be released to the child sex abuse inquiry but also to the police given that there are references to alleged offences having taken place.

"These must be properly investigated.

"The fact that nothing was done about it at the time is astonishing.

"Yet again - as in so many historical abuse cases - we appear to be seeing a missed opportunity where allegations were ignored or brushed under the carpet. It is an outrage that this file was seen at Prime Ministerial-level and we are only finding about it now."

MP Simon Danczuk, who has campaigned about sexual abuse allegations, said there is "no good reason" not to release the information in the file.

He said: " The Government telling us that the file will be given to the child abuse inquiry is something of a hollow promise given that the inquiry has not yet got off the ground.

"Over the last few years we have heard a lot about files relating to child abuse allegations going missing and being lost by government departments.

"Now a file has finally been found the public will not understand why the Government are refusing to let us know what it contains.

"The file should be made public as soon as possible and any criminal allegations should be investigated by the police.

"There is no good reason not to release this information. If there are genuine national security concerns then surely a redacted version could be published.

"The Government need to catch up with public opinion and realise that people, and more importantly survivors of child abuse, want and deserve to know the truth.

"The Prime Minister has said that he will leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of this - well here is a stone that is in need of turning."

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