Abused MP gives Theresa May backing in child sex inquiry

Tessa Munt, who has spoken movingly about how she survived child abuse, says the Home Secretary is ‘utterly determined’ to see push forward a full inquiry

Tessa Munt

Tessa Munt MP has backed Theresa May over the troubled child sex abuse inquiry Photo: Guy Bell / Alamy
A Liberal Democrat MP who revealed earlier this year that she was abused as a child has given Theresa May, the Home Secretary her full support over the troubled child sex abuse inquiry.
Tessa Munt said she was convinced Mrs May was “utterly determined” to get the beleaguered inquiry back on track, after the high-profile resignation of two women appointed to lead the investigation into claims of paedophile abuse in the British establishment.
“I’ve no idea what her own experience is, none of us does, but she is very, very determined to sort this out,” Miss Munt said.
“I’ve met her several times and my sense is that she is utterly determined to get this sorted out.
“Now, obviously we’ve been six months in the process but I think she is completely convinced that there needs to be somebody at the top of it; I think she’s been persuaded that the argument for having statutory powers and having the element of compulsion is absolutely essential.
“I think probably it must be a matter of some dismay that this carries on now, let alone what is historic – there was originally a start date set on how far we could go back, that’s now changed and we can go back much further than that.”
It came after Mrs May indicated for the first time that she was prepared to go back to the drawing board over the inquiry.
She has faced criticism over delays to the project and the Home Office’s failure to properly look into the background of Fiona Woolf and Baroness Butler-Sloss, who both had to resign after it emerged they had significant personal links with public figures whose conduct in the Seventies and Eighties is likely to come under scrutiny in the inquiry.
Miss Munt disclosed in July that she had kept silent for decades about her own childhood experiences for fear that she would not be believed.
She declined to talk even in general terms about what had happened to her, but described herself as a “survivor of sexual abuse”.
The truth had been hidden even from close friends and family until she was in her 30s, said the Wells MP, who went to a convent school until she was 11.
The Home Secretary said in a letter, leaked at the weekend, that it might be an option to convert the current panel into a “statutory” inquiry with extra powers, or start afresh with a completely new set-up.
Miss Munt added: “It’s clear, I mean, I met somebody of 84 a couple of Saturdays ago who said to me ‘well done, keep going, this happened to me’.
“This is dreadful, that somebody lives with the damage that is done by people who abuse others and we have to get to the bottom of it. I’m utterly convinced that Theresa May has seen that and she understands it.”
Miss Munt welcomed the indication that the inquiry will now get statutory powers, allowing it to compel witnesses to give evidence and secure documents.
“I think there should be an element of compulsion and the really important thing is that, by giving the whole inquiry statutory powers, that means that actually people can be compelled to come and give evidence and required to tell the truth on oath,” she said.
Her intervention came after another MP who has been a prominent campaigner for victims of child sex abuse claimed the Government was deliberately sabotaging the inquiry to protect “high profile figures”.
Simon Danczuk, the Labour backbencher, said the problems which had dogged the probe set up in July appeared to have been “quite deliberate mistakes by people in central Government”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ““There’s a catalogue of mistakes that have been made, some of them fairly basic, and you can’t blame the survivors of child abuse for wondering, because of the allegations of high-profile figures involved in the abuse, you can’t help thinking that some of this is quite deliberate mistakes by people in 

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