Victims Threaten to Withdraw Support From Westminster Paedophile Inquiry

Theresa May
Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May leaves a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London, November 4, 2014. Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

Victims of alleged child abuse have written a letter to home secretary Theresa May telling her that they will withdraw support from the government's Westminster paedophile inquiry unless significant changes are made to the way it's being conducted.

The open letter, sent yesterday, which has 24 signatories, slams the inquiry as "not fit for purpose", saying that they would not resume co-operation until May removed the current panel, replacing it "on a transparent basis", declared a "statutory inquiry" and extended the time period looked at by the inquiry back to 1945.

The letter comes ahead of a meeting which is due to be held in Westminster today between the Home Office and major child abuse groups, who are set to demand major changes to the terms of the inquiry.

The signatories of the letter say of the inquiry: "Its Terms of Reference (ToR) are inadequate for delivering the original declared intentions of the inquiry, namely to investigate government and establishment cover ups of paedophiles in their ranks and aiding bringing the perpetrators to justice."

NSPCC chief Peter Wanless was commissioned by Theresa May in July, signalling the beginning of the inquiry, to locate a 40-page missing dossier of papers given to Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens in the 1980s that allegedly contained details of "paedophiles operating a network within and around Westminster". It was never found, sparking allegations of a major historical cover-up of child abuse, including claims of a murderous Westminster paedophile ring operating in the 1980s.

Five months later and the committee still has no chair, and two successive delegates have had to resign amid concerns that they had links to figures thought to be involved in the alleged cover-up.

"Both your appointees to Head the Inquiry Panel have had to be forced out by survivors because of obvious conflicts of interest, and you have failed to address similar issues regarding other Panel appointees," the letter says.

Baroness Butler-Sloss, a retired judge, stepped down as head of the committee in July after it was revealed that her brother was an attorney general around the time of the period under examination and could have influenced legal decisions related to the sex abuse allegations.

Fiona Wolf, who headed the child sex abuse inquiry from early September, resigned less than two months later in October due to links with Lord Brittan, whose actions while home secretary in the 1980s are expected to be part of the investigation.

The letter also calls for the inquiry to extend the period of examination from 1970 to 1945, with the letter arguing: "That the cut-off date for the Inquiry investigations was set at 1970 is highly disturbing given that the 1969 Children's Act transferred Home Office run youth establishments, from which thousands of abuse allegations eventually emerged."

"It highlights the lack of transparency regarding the Home Office's dealings with the Inquiry, not to mention the apparent obfuscations and manipulations in the defence of the appointment of Fiona Woolf. As a result, the Home Office seems to be running the Inquiry to meet others' needs rather than those of survivors and the public".

Ed Nixon, Chief Executive of Family Care Associates and one of the signatories on the letter has been involved in children's social work for 40 years.

He told Newsweek that he would like to see the inquiry led by survivors. "If the inquiry is to have any credibility, in my view the parameters have to be infinitely more flexible than now. More evidence should be made available to the public.

"At present, we are putting the inquiry into the same hands as those who were in charge whilst the abuse was happening. This doesn't make much sense to me. We hear so much about records going missing- we need absolute transparency. Horrendous things happened," he went on.

"The victims are now responsible adults, seeking to find the truth. Is that too much to ask?

In my personal opinion, and I'm not talking on behalf of the other signatories, I am forced to think that this has not yet happened because they are trying to protect some body or institution that does or has existed within our society," he told Newsweek.

" If I were part of the political estate of this country and I felt people were unfairly accusing politicians, rather than putting any restrictions in place, I would want it to be open. This hasn't yet happened, and this raises question marks."

"The lid has been lifted off Pandora's box- now lets have a proper look inside it," he added.

Speaking to Sky News on Friday, Theresa May said: "I am aware of the letter, I have been speaking to survivors, various groups of survivors and representatives of those groups and listening to the issues they have raised. The issues in the letter have been raised previously and we are looking at them.

"I am very clear that we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to get to the bottom of this issue and what has happened," she added.

Victims Threaten to Withdraw Support From Westminster Paedophile Inquiry | World