Inquiry to investigate Westminster allegations

Monday 07 July 2014 21.50
Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May made the announcement in the House of Commons today
Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May made the announcement in the House of Commons today

A Hillsborough-style independent inquiry is to investigate the handling by public bodies of allegations of child sex abuse, Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May announced today. 

The announcement in the House of Commons came after the British Prime Minister David Cameron promised to leave "no stone unturned" in seeking the truth about widespread allegations of a paedophile ring with links to the establishment in the 1980s.

The inquiry will be given access to all Government papers it requests, and could be converted into a full public inquiry if its chairman feels it is necessary. 

It is unlikely to report before next year's general election, but Ms May promised that an update on its progress will be given to Parliament before May 2015.

Like the probe into the Hillsborough football disaster, which reported in 2012, it will be a non-statutory inquiry initially focusing on documentary evidence.

However, it will have the power to call witnesses, subject to the need to avoid prejudicing any criminal investigations.

Meanwhile, a separate review, led by NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless, will look into an investigation conducted last year into the Home Office's handling of child abuse allegations made over a 20-year period.

It will also look into the response of police and prosecutors to information which was passed on to them.

Ms May said she was confident that the work commissioned last year by Home Office permanent secretary Mark Sedwill was "carried out in good faith",.

However, she added: "I know that with allegations as serious as these the public need to have complete confidence in the integrity of the investigation's findings."

Mr Wanless is expected to report within eight to ten weeks and will look at concerns that the Home Office failed to act on allegations of child sex abuse contained in a dossier handed over in by former Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens to then Home Secretary Leon Brittan in 1983.