Thursday. 21 August 2014

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Five more Conservative MPs join cross-party call for CSA inquiry

Lord Brittan issues two statements on Home Office’s missing dossier on VIP paedophiles

I asked my officials to look carefully at the material contained in the papers provided and report back to me

Lord Brittan, former home secretary

Five more Conservative MPs – including some party grandees – have joined the call for an overarching inquiry into child sex abuse.

They and another Labour MP added their names to the campaign as Lord Brittan today issued two statements to explain what he did with a dossier on VIP paedophiles that was submitted to the Home Office in 1984. As Leon Brittan, he was then home secretary.

Simon Danczuk, Labour MP, pressed the case for an overarching inquiry while giving evidence on Tuesday to the House of Commons home affairs committee about child sex abuse.

The number of MPs who back the inquiry has jumped to 132, with the six additional MPs.

They are all in the updated and fully-verified list of MPs who are backing the call for an inquiry, along with their comments in support.

The new MPs include Caroline Spelman, former chairwoman of the Conservative Party and environment secretary between 2010 and 2012.

Two former deputy chairmen of the party are also among the five: Bernard Jenkin, chairman of the House of Commons public administration committee, and Charles Hendry, who also was energy minister between 2010 and 2012.

Andrew Bingham, Philip Hollobone, both Conservative, and Labour’s Ian Lavery are the other new MP backers.

The five asked Tim Loughton, former children’s minister, to add their names in support. Loughton was one of a cross-party group of seven MPs who started the campaign by sending a joint letter to Theresa May, home secretary, asking her to set up an independent panel to hold the inquiry.

Their addition to the campaign undermines a claim put by another Conservative MP, Mark Reckless, to Danczuk at Tuesday’s hearing that some MPs had complained to him of being bullied into supporting the inquiry call.

But Danczuk dismissed the claim, saying: “I am sure that if MPs are on it and they do not want to be on it, then they have the wherewithal to get themselves off it.”

The joint letter to the home secretary said that one issue for the inquiry is to find out what happened to the dossier on VIP paedophiles that was compiled by the late Conservative MP, Geoffrey Dickens, and submitted to the Home Office in 1984.

The Home Office has said that the dossier has since vanished.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Danczuk said that the dossier contained material “about paedophiles operating a network within and around Westminster,” adding, “I think that there are questions to be answered.”

Keith Vaz, Labour MP and committee chairman, asked who was then the home secretary.

Danczuk: “The home secretary was Sir Leon Brittan, and I think it would be helpful if he stepped forward and shared his thoughts on where that dossier–”

“But I do think it would be helpful if Sir Leon shared his knowledge of how he dealt with these allegations that were made at the time.”

Vaz: “It is probably a point that we should put to other home secretaries as well,” adding, “We shall do that.”

Journalists were door-stepping Brittan at his London house in Pimlico this morning. He was filmed by news crews, saying that he would issue a statement by lunchtime.

Brittan’s solicitor, Anthony Julius, of Mishcon de Reya, issued a statement on his behalf saying that Dickens met him at the Home Office “with a substantial bundle of papers”. His private secretary would have attended, said Brittan.

“I asked my officials to look carefully at the material contained in the papers provided and report back to me if they considered that any action needed to be taken by the Home Office.”

“I do not recall being contacted further about these matters by Home Office officials or by Mr Dickens or by anyone else.”

Danczuk issued a statement that branded Brittan’s comments as “glib”.

The Home Office then said in a statement that, as a review found last year, the department had “acted appropriately” and had referred information “to the relevant authorities”.

Brittan issued a second statement: “In the last hour, I have been alerted to a Home Office independent review conducted last year.”

“The Home Office independent review is entirely consistent with the action I set out in my earlier statement.”

The flurry of statements in full.

  • Chris Grayling, justice secretary, today wrote to a constituent to reject the idea of an inquiry into child sex abuse. “I do not support a public inquiry,” he wrote, “I believe that it would take years, cost enormous amounts of money, and delay the kind of action that is really needed, which is to allow the police to investigate allegations of child abuse.”

If you have information that might help our investigation, please contact us. Keep re-visiting Exaro for more on this investigation. Our Twitter followers @ExaroNews have been asking their MPs whether they back the inquiry call. Let us know your MP’s response by tweeting to us or e-mail news@exaronews.net.

LIST OF PREVIOUS RELEVANT PIECES: Child sex abuse, ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’: Exaro story thread

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