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For the past two years I’ve been working with a cross party group of MPs, survivors and experts looking into allegations of child abuse which may have involved senior Westminster and Whitehall figures in the 1970s and 80s. This week it has emerged that files detailing the allegations have gone missing. Many survivors of child abuse believe they have been let down by system of child protection in the UK. Thousands had nowhere to turn. Nobody listened and nobody helped. The missing Home Office files and the failure of previous police and local authority inquiries has meant that MPs from all the political parties have supported calls for an overarching national inquiry. Government should make amends for historic failures to act by establishing an independent national inquiry into organised child abuse. We owe it to the survivors. They expect nothing less.
UPDATE – 13.15 7th July: Today’s press reports say she will announce an inquiry into allegations of organised child abuse. The devil will be in the detail. Having talked to a number of survivors and retired child protection specialists I know one thing: if this new inquiry is not given the power to obtain all documents it wants to see, then it won’t get anywhere. We need to make sure the inquiry has all the powers it needs. We need to keep up the pressure.
To: David Cameron and Theresa May
Please establish a national inquiry into allegations of organised child abuse.
Firstly, a very big thank you. Without your support we would never have forced the Home Secretary to make an announcement in the House of Commons at 3.30pm today. Early press reports say she will announce an inquiry into allegations of organised child abuse. The devil will be in the detail. Having talked to a number of survivors and retired child protection specialists I know one thing: if this new inquiry is not given the power to obtain all documents it wants to see, then it won’t get anywhere. It has already been revealed that Special Branch suppressed police reports into allegations of child abuse by the late MP Cyril Smith. If they held a file on Smith, then the inquiry team will want to know if they held files on any other individual. That’s why the power to demand files is vital. So we’ve made great progress in 24 hours but we have a little further to go before we can claim victory. I’ll let you know my view later this afternoon. In the meantime – if you can get us past the 75,000 supporter mark before the Home Secretary stands up in the Commons, it will send a big statement. Best wishes – I’ve been very moved by your solidarity and support. Tom W