UK & World News
Inquiries To Investigate Child Sex Abuse Claims
Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that two inquiries will be set up to explore allegations of widespread child abuse in Westminster during the 1980s.
The first is a rapid response review led by Peter Wanless, the head of the NSPCC, and will look into claims that a paedophile ring was operating among politicians three decades ago.
A second broader independent inquiry will investigate how police and other public bodies handled the claims, and whether they tried to cover them up.
Mr Wanless' review will explore how the Home Office dealt with sex abuse allegations contained in a file prepared by former Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens and given to then-home secretary Lord Brittan in the 1980s.
It will also examine how police and prosecutors handled allegations of abuse.
Speaking to MPs in the House of Commons, Mrs May said Mr Wanless' review will report back with its findings within eight to 10 weeks.
She added that where Mr Wanless' findings relate to the Director of Public Prosecutions it will report to Attorney General Dominic Grieve, as well as to her.
The broader independent inquiry is to be led by an expert panel and could be upgraded to a full public inquiry if the panel decides that is necessary.
It follows a series of historical allegations against Jimmy Savile and the conviction of entertainer Rolf Harris.
"Some of these cases have exposed a failure by public bodies to take their responsibilities seriously," Mrs May said.
"Some have shown that the organisations responsible for protecting children from abuse - including the police, social services and schools, have failed to work together properly."
She said "many members from all parties" had urged her to launch an overarching inquiry.
"I can now tell the House that the Government will establish an independent inquiry panel of experts in the law and child protection to consider whether public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse," she said.
"The inquiry panel will be chaired by an appropriately senior and experienced figure.
"It will begin its work as soon as possible after the appointment of the chairman and other members of the panel.
"Given the scope of its work it is not likely to report before the General Election. But I will make sure that it provides an update on its progress to parliament before May next year."
Mrs May said it would be a non-statutory panel inquiry, like those into the Hillsborough disaster and the murder of Daniel Morgan.
Last week Lord Brittan said he had acted on the file compiled by Mr Dickens.
But Sky's Adam Boulton said: "There's been a lot of talk about the so-called dossier. According to the Home Secretary there wasn't really a dossier from Geoffrey Dickens.
"There were a series of conversations and documents which were produced and I have to say as someone covering politics in that period, Geoffrey Dickens was a populist MP, someone liable to take up causes.
"But one would be surprised if he actually presented a detailed series of allegations, and certainly some of the allegations that he made at the time, he had to subsequently withdraw on the record."
Prime Minister David Cameron said earlier there would be "no stone unturned" by the investigation into how public bodies handled the sex abuse claims.
Meanwhile, a whistle-blower in the North Wales care home scandal has also called for any potential links to the Westminster child sex claims to be thoroughly investigated.
Alison Taylor told Sky News: "If there are links there won't be much of a will to prove them... and it is the will that matters."