David Cameron pressed at PMQs on inquiry into child sex abuse

Parliamentary pressure mounts as 40 MPs ask Theresa May to set up independent panel

By David HenckeFrederika Whitehead and Fiona O’Cleirigh | 11 June 2014

David Cameron pressed at PMQs on inquiry into child sex abuseMore MPs are joining the cross-party group that wants home secretary Theresa May to set up an inquiry into historical cases of child sex abuse.

It came as another supporter for an inquiry, Duncan Hames, prompted by Exaro’s articles, today raised the issue with David Cameron at prime minister’s questions.

Hames asked Cameron: “The prime minister will have heard calls from honourable members on all sides of the house for an independent inquiry on the Hillsborough model, into organised child sexual abuse in this country. Can he truly be satisfied that current police investigations are sufficient for the public to have confidence that we are both willing and able to get to the truth?”

Cameron replied: “I think my honourable friend makes a very important point and I have looked at this carefully with ministerial colleagues because, of course, we have a series of inquiries taking place into what happened in various hospitals and care homes and, indeed, media organisations, and I think that it is very important that the government takes a clear view about how these are being coordinated and how the lessons are being learnt.

“If there is a need for any more overarching process to be put in place, I am very happy to look at that. But I think that, at the moment, led by the home secretary and her colleagues, we do have a proper view of what is happening at all of these organisations.”

So far, 33 more MPs have backed the initial call for a national inquiry from a cross-party group of seven, co-ordinated by the Conservative backbencher, Zac Goldsmith.

The initial seven, including Tim Loughton, former children’s minister, sent a joint letter last week to May to press for an independent panel to investigate child sex abuse because of police failures.

The other signaturies were Tom Watson and Simon Danczuk, from Labour; Tessa Munt and John Hemming, Liberal Democrat; and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas.

The number of MPs who are backing the call for an inquiry has grown to 40. They include Neil Carmichael and Craig Whittaker, Conservative members of the House of Commons education committee.

Referring to the committee’s Twitter handle, Carmichael tweeted: “Child care is a top concern of @CommonsEd and I am happy to promote a wider inquiry into child abuse.”

Douglas Carswell, Henry Smith and Jason McCartney are three further Conservative MPs who backed the call.

Among the new supporters are Naomi Long, deputy leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, who pointed out that her constituency of Belfast, East included the notorious Kincora boys’ home, which was at the centre of sexual abuse of children before it was closed in 1980.

“I do support an inquiry as victims deserve to have the truth,” she tweeted.

Three Democratic Unionists also backed the call.

Another 16 Labour MPs are supporting the call for an inquiry, including Stephen Twigg, former education minister.

Labour’s shadow health minister, Andrew Gwynne, also supports the call, as do Lyn Brown, shadow minister for communities and local government; Iain Wright, shadow industry minister; Richard Burden, shadow transport minister; Karl Turner, an opposition whip; Robert Flello, the party’s justice spokesman from 2010 until 2013; Ian Mearns, a member of the House of Commons education committee since 2010.

Seven other Labour backbenchers also joined the call: Yasmin Qureshi, Steve Rotheram, Emma Lewell-Buck, Jim Sheridan, Khalid Mahmood, Paul Flynn and Stephen Pound.

George Galloway, Respect MP, also tweeted his support.

Six more Liberal Democrats are also backing the inquiry: Adrian Sanders, Mark Williams, Stephen Gilbert, Paul Burstow, Duncan Hames and Annette Brooke, chairwoman of the Parliamentary Liberal Democrat Party.

Watson told Exaro: “This is remarkable to see, a grass-roots campaign is forming.”

Goldsmith added: “It is really fantastic news.”

Exaro has compiled a full list of MPs who are backing the call for an inquiry, along with their comments in support.

Related Stories : Child sex abuse, ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’: Exaro story thread

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