UK minister says 'might have been cover-up' over abuse
A senior British minister said Tuesday that there might have been a cover-up of historic claims of child sex abuse by public figures, after an official review found no evidence of a conspiracy but warned of a lack of proper records.
Home Secretary Theresa May told the House of Commons she had asked for further information from the authors of the government-commissioned review into missing Home Office files.
"Unfortunately, it doesn't prove or disprove the Home Office acted appropriately in the 1980s," she said.
"There might have been a cover-up, that is why we have set up the inquiry into child abuse and we are determined to get to the truth," she said, referring to a separate, wider-reaching inquiry into how public bodies have dealt with abuse claims.
The review of the missing files was launched in July after renewed questions about what happened to a dossier of claims against lawmakers and other figures that was reportedly compiled in the 1980s.
It concluded in a report Tuesday: "We found nothing to support a concern that files had been deliberately or systematically removed or destroyed to cover up organised child abuse.
"But the report, led by Peter Wanless, the head of children's charity the NSPCC, added: "It is very difficult to prove anything definitive based on imperfectly operated paper records system at 30 years remove.
"Rumours of an organised ring of paedophiles in Westminster have been circulating for decades, focused on a dossier of allegations that late MP Geoffrey Dickens said he compiled in 1983.
However, no record remains of the file.
The rumours took on new significance following revelations about late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile, who is now believed to have been a prolific sex offender for decades without being caught.
Claims of a cover-up were fuelled after the Home Office admitted earlier this year that it had lost 114 files relating to complaints about abuse between 1979 and 1999.
The government has also ordered a wider inquiry into how public bodies and institutions handled allegations of historic child abuse going back decades.
But the first two women appointed to chair the inquiry both resigned over concerns about their links to the establishment.
Opposition Labour lawmaker Simon Danczuk, who has campaigned on the issue, lamented the lack of progress.
"So far all we've seen are whitewash reports and hopeless attempts to manage and contain an historic child abuse inquiry," he said.
© 2014 AFP