Call for All Political Leaders and Leadership Candidates to Pledge Full Co-operation with Abuse InquiryPosted: July 9, 2015
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is now underway. Despite two previous chairs rightly standing down due to some of their connections, and unpleasant politics between some other panel members and other individuals, resulting in the loss of several very good people, nonetheless what is now in place is strong, focused, and has real powers. I am very pleased at the access to intelligence files and also the pledge that no-one who comes forward will face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. And personally, I am especially pleased that the Terms of Reference make clear that music tuition will be an area of investigation, for which I have campaigned qnd lobbied for several years. The website is at:
Some survivors and campaigners have unfortunately expressed grave reservations about the inquiry. I would implore them to at least try engaging with it, difficult though this might be, in full recognition of the fact that they have more reason than anyone to be distrustful of any such venture. But I believe the chair and panel do wish to get to the bottom of this terrible factor afflicting our society for so long, and help to build a better society in its place.
In an interview I gave earlier today for Sky News:
I called for the leaders of all the major political parties to pledge full co-operation with this inquiry (and make all relevant documentation available) and want to repeat this now, and hope others will help with urging publicly not only current leaders, but also leadership and deputy leadership candidates, to do so. Much evidence has come to light suggesting that abuse by senior politicians in many parties was either ignored or actively covered up, and that other politicians had connections to paedophile organisations. It is paramount that this is fully investigated in order to understand better how high-level abuse could go on for so long with apparent impunity.
So I ask people, journalists, campaigners, bloggers, tweeters and others to help keep the pressure on the following politicians in England and Wales to give such a pledge, and if not, explain not.
Leader: David Cameron
Future Leadership Candidates: Boris Johnson, George Osborne, Theresa May
Leader: Nick Clegg
Leadership Candidates: Tim Farron, Norman Lamb
Leader: Harriet Harman
Leadership Candidates: Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Jeremy Corbyn
Deputy Leadership Candidates: Tom Watson, Stella Creasey, Ben Bradshaw, Angela Eagle, Caroline Flint
Leader: Nigel Farage
Leader: Natalie Bennett
Leader: Leanne Wood
On June 13th, 2014, Peter McKelvie – who was the source for Tom Watson’s October 2012 question on high-level abuse based upon evidence from the investigation into Peter Righton – wrote to his local MP Sir Tony Baldry MP (Conservative, North Oxfordshire). The letter was reproduced on Spotlight, and I reproduce it here:
Dear Sir Tony,
You will no doubt be aware of the growing clamour, now joined by a cross-party group of over 40 MPs, for an Independent Hillsborough type Inquiry in to decades of organised abuse by networks that have infiltrated both the care system and the boarding school institutions of this country.
These networks include politicians, both national and local, from all political parties as well as residential social workers,police officers, teachers, judges, civil servants to name but a few.
You will no doubt be aware of the PMQ yesterday, 11th June, by Duncan Hames, until recently PPS to the Deputy Prime Minister, in which Mr.Hames asked for the Prime Minister’s support for such an Inquiry but Mr. Cameron felt that the Home Office had the situation under control and no further measure was required.
I am the retired Child Protection Team Manager who approached MP, Tom Watson, in October 2012, as a result of which Mr. Watson also asked a PMQ, on 24th October 2012 which subsequently led to the setting up of Operation Fernbridge by the Metropolitan Police.
You may recall that the PMQ involved the allegation that an elite paedophile ring had a link with No.10.
As you will know Operation Fernbridge is ongoing and I receive regular feedback on the progress of that investigation.
I would like to ask for your support as my local MP for an Independent Inquiry and would like an appointment with you please to discuss my reasons in much more detail.
On a website called Spotlightonabuse:The Past on Trial you will see my Open Letter to David Cameron, with copies to Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband and also their responses.
I can forward you copies of all these documents at any point.
There are grounds to look closely at the behaviour of over 40 Members of the Commons and Lords, some living and some now dead, in connection with the actual abuse of very vulnerable children or with its cover up. This number is likely to grow during the course of a proper investigation.
I think the case against Cyril Smith and Peter Morrison is strong evidence of how easy it was for paedophiles to remain hidden within the corridors of power. Their cases are unfortunately the tip of the iceberg.
You are the ideal MP for me to approach not only because you are my constituent MP but because I understand that you are, according to your Wikipedia entry, “one of the last of those made a Minister by Margaret Thatcher still to be in the House of Commons”
The allegations I took to Tom Watson which resulted in the current Police investigations involve Mrs.Thatcher’s period as Prime Minister.
Many questions remain unanswered about a number of her key appointments and as her personal assistant in the 1974 General Election and, upon her becoming Leader of the Conservative Party in 1975, you joined her Private Office and so I must assume were very close to her and by definition some of the people I believe should be subject to an Independent Inquiry.
Your perspective could be extremely helpful.
The persistence of Mrs. Thatcher in pressing ahead with the Knighthood of Jimmy Savile despite opposition from her closest advisers, his alleged attendance at multiple private Chequers parties, his being granted the keys to Broadmoor in 1988, together with her appointment of Peter Morrison, a well known paedophile according to a number of fellow MPs, as her PPS raise many serious questions that need answering and only an Independent Inquiry on a Hillsborough based model will satisfy the electorate.
There are allegations against MPs of all parties under several different Governments and this is not a party political isue.
I can go in to much more detail in a face to face meeting but at this stage would ask for your support in joining the 40 plus MPs who have already pledged their support for an Independent Inquiry
Baldry sent a response to McKelvie, dated July 7th, 2014, and received today (July 9th), which is reproduced below:
Here is McKelvie’s reply sent today:
Dear Sir Tony
Thank you for your letter received today, by post on Wednesday 9th July 2014.
You state that you did not receive my letter via email.
I simply do not believe you. I have proof it was delivered.
Your reply to me is extremely rude, condescending and smacks of the arrogancy of a figure of the ruling classes that pays lip service to the electorate.
Let’s break down your reply.
1. I do not have a blog.
2. Your office would have received my email on 12th June 2014 ie 28 days ago
3. Why did the Banbury Guardian contact you to discuss an email you never received.
4. I note that you have taken the trouble to look at ” my blog ” ( I do not and never have had a blog ) on at least one occasion, but couldn’t reply to me until the 7th July, a significant date when you could sit back and think that your party had agreed entirely of it’s own volition to agree to a form of Independent Inquiry, and like the vast majority of your party’s MP’s could trot out the standard response.
5. ” You are clearly computer and email literate “. My family, friends and colleagues would find that very amusing.
I am of the generation, and a Luddite to boot, where IT skills have passed me by and am almost a one finger typist who wouldn’t know what an app was if it hit me in the face.
6. You state ” why if you didn’t get a response you didn’t subsequently get in touch to check I had received your email”.
I am actually computer literate enough to know if I send an email to the correct address and it isn’t returned undelivered with a failure message then I know it’s been received.
7. ” Indeed, given the seriousness of this issue I can’t imagine why you would think if I had received a letter or email from you that I wouldn’t want to respond straightaway “.
I assumed and I believe it to be the case with you, that you were one of the large majority of MP’s who failed to answer constituents letters re. the specific issues I raised with you, and were stalling and refusing to recognise the unprecedented surge of people power and anger until your leadership could instruct you on the party line, which in your case came remarkably on the very day that you decided to reply to me ie 7th July, when your hitherto resistant Government were forced in to a humiliating climbdown to agree to a shadow of the type of Inquiry that Survivors of child sexual abuse have been long demanding.
You enclose the Home Office Oral Statement Monday 7th July 2014 Child Abuse. I received a personal copy within an hour of it being released.
Your reply to someone who has campaigned for justice for survivors of child sexual abuse for over 30 years is as demeaning, insulting and condescending as the replies I have received for nearly 2 years from Mr. Cameron and the Home Office and shows the same level of disdain for a mere member of the public like myself as Mr. Norman Baker showed to me and a recognised child protection expert in a sham meeting with him earlier this year.
I refuse to believe that your office did not receive my email
I am attaching your letter for the attention of the people I am copying in to your reply
[Since first publishing this article online a number of further MPs have indicated their support for a national inquiry in line with the express wishes of the original seven. For details of this, and how to write to your MP to ask them to support, please see this post]
The pioneering news organisation Exaro have published two important articles today by David Hencke relating to a cross-party group of seven MPs who have written jointly to Home Secretary Theresa May called for a proper inquiry into child abuse, citing the Hillsborough inquiry as a model (see Hencke, ‘Police keep failing ‘to follow evidence’ in abuse cases, say MPs: Call for wide inquiry into ‘schools, churches, children’s homes, politicians and celebrities’, 3/6/14, and ‘MPs call on Theresa May to set inquiry into child sex abuse: Tim Loughton and Zac Goldsmith in cross-party group that highlights failures by police’, 3/6/14; see also Jason Beattie, ‘MPs demand inquiry into historic claims of child sex abuse by Cabinet Ministers’, Daily Mirror, 4/6/14).
The seven MPs in question (who Hencke has elsewhere called the ‘Magnificent Seven’) are:
Zac Goldsmith, MP for Richmond Park, whose constituency contains Elm Guest House, Grafton Close Children’s Home, and Colet Court and St Paul’s Schools (Twitter @ZacGoldsmith ).
Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham and former Children’s Commissioner, who spoke powerfully in the House of Commons in September 2013 about many ongoing revelations of abuse (Website here; Twitter @timloughton ).
John Hemming, MP for Birmingham Yardley, who made representations on behalf of financial journalist Leah McGrath Goodman on the grounds of her being banned from the UK following investigation into child abuse at Haut de la Garenne, Jersey, but has also been critical of UK family courts when dealing with allegations of abuse against parents. (Website here; Twitter @johnhemmingmp )
Tessa Munt, MP for Wells, who as a member of the Education Select Committee has taken a special interest in child safeguarding, and whose constituency contains Wells Cathedral School, one of the five specialist music schools, all of which have been connected to abuse (Website here; Twitter @tessamunt )
Tom Watson, MP for West Bromwich East, who has been indefatigable in his commitment to this issue ever since raising in Westminster in October 2012 the issues of a high-level paedophile ring (see Watson’s blog and articles here and many other places online; Twitter @tom_watson ).
Simon Danczuk, MP for Rochdale, co-author with Matthew Baker of Smile for the Camera: The Double Life of Cyril Smith (London: Biteback, 2014), who has written of how Smith was connected to Peter Righton and also a wider paedophile ring including prominent politicians (see this article by Watson in praise of Danczuk) (Website here, Twitter @simondanczuk )
These seven MPs are concerned about how important files, surveillance videos and other material have gone missing, lack of charges brought as a result of Operation Fernbridge, and in general an apparent reluctance on the part of the police and others to pursue cases of serious abuse. Watson has written to the Director of Public Prosecutions naming a former cabinet minister alleged to have raped a woman going by the name of ‘Jane’ (see also the detailed five-part account linked to at the bottom of this article and the video interview with ‘Jane’); this is the same senior cabinet minister who has been linked to the VIP paedophile ring related to Elm Guest House (as confirmed by Mark Watts on Twitter on 18/5/14). The Metropolitan Police have chosen not to pursue Jane’s allegations further, nor even interview the alleged perpetrator, raising serious questions about whether proper procedure has been followed; Exaro have also claimed that there was a shocking concerted police smear campaign aimed at discrediting ‘Jane’. Furthermore, there are serious questions about the whereabouts of a series of documents submitted to the Home Office by the late Geoffrey Dickens MP (see here, here and here), one of the few MPs who continued to pursue this issue in the 1980s. Loughton has spoken of his alarm at consistent ‘reluctance, or more worryingly, the seeming complicity of police and other agencies to investigate the allegations seriously, and pursue the perpetrators rigorously’, and how ‘Documents go missing and investigations are curtailed with a chilling frequency, and that now threatens a serious undermining of the public’s confidence in our current child-protection system despite all the progress that has undoubtedly been made in recent years’.
The range of areas of public life in which there have been major allegations of abuse is frighteningly large: these include children’s homes in Islington (see also here and this article by whistleblower Liz Davies), Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Haute de la Garenne in Jersey, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk, Staffordshire (the ‘Pindown’ scandal) Birmingham, Leicestershire, North Wales, South Wales, Cheshire, Leeds, Sunderland, Northumberland, Lothian, Renfrewshire, Isle of Lewis, the Kincora Boy’s Home in Belfast, Stockgrove Park School, Buckinghamshire, Stanbridge Earls School near Romsey, Hampshire, New Barns School, Gloucestershire, Castle Hill School, Shropshire, St George’s School, Suffolk, Knowl View School in Rochdale, in Cleveland, many of the leading public schools (see also the range of articles here), the Catholic Church, not least in Scottish abbeys, the Church of England, the entertainment industry (not least involving Jimmy Savile), grooming gangs in the North West and Oxford, music education, a ring around Piccadilly Circus, major networks trading images of child abuse, and more. Some of these cases have been investigated, with some prosecutions, but there is good reason to believe some of these investigations have been half-hearted, whilst other cases have simply been ignored. There are many individuals linked to multiple networks (not least the sinister figure of Peter Righton), continuing talk of the VIP paedophile ring connected to Elm Guest House and elsewhere, major information concerning late MPs Cyril Smith and Peter Morrison and serious allegations about others who are living (not least the severe claim that a Blair era cabinet minister was being investigated for abusing children in a home in Lambeth, leading to a detective being taken off the case, and even that a council official looking to expose a ring involving the minister was murdered). The activities of members of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), about whom I have blogged in detail, remain shady, and there are many suggestions that this organisation might be linked to a great number of cases of abuse. Furthermore, it is now clear that PIE had deep links to the Home Office, receiving large amounts of money from the organisation, with at least three members working on its premises (with a phone line there), its magazine printed there, and some civil servants receiving images of child abuse delivered to the building!
It is heartening to see such a diverse cross-party group of MPs coming together on this issue. Yet it is more than a little disappointing that there are not more, and that the most senior politicians in all the major parties do not appear to be taking seriously what can only be called an epidemic (if even less than half of the allegations were true). I would urge everyone reading this to write to their own MP and implore them to support the seven courageous figures above (any of whom I would gladly vote for). I have earlier blogged on the need for Ed Miliband, the leader of the party to which I belong (Labour), to put all of his weight behind calls for a proper inquiry, but also how there is near-silence from the upper echelons of Labour, perhaps related to the fact that senior Labour politicians are under investigation and also that the current Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman, has been linked to PIE during her time as Legal Officer at the NCCL, during which period NCCL took out an advert in PIE’s journal Magpie and also their policy on images of children reflects aspects of PIE thinking. But this should not be stopping Miliband, nor should worries about the former Thatcher era cabinet minister, and Peter Morrison and others, be stopping David Cameron (and in light of revelations about Cyril Smith, Nick Clegg should be firmly behind this).
Leading experts, researchers and campaigners on child abuse Peter McKelvie and Liz Davies met recently with Home Office minister Norman Baker. They were granted a mere ten minutes of time, despite having built up huge bodies of evidence about child abuse, but it was made clear that there was no intention to undertake either a national police investigation (absolutely necessary because so many complex cases are interlinked) nor a public inquiry. I would urge people to read the account above. Nonetheless, I have been informed that both individuals spoke very highly of Zac Goldsmith’s commitment to the issues in particular.
The media have reported much about the relatively small number of cases coming to court as a result of Operation Yewtree. But these are just a tiny fraction of the wider allegations of serious and sustained abuse (and non-sexual abuse should not be treated any less seriously). All credit to these seven MPs, but as for the others – if our MPs do not care about protecting children in the most vulnerable situations, what do they care about?