UK & World News

  • 9 July 2014, 7:54

Sex Abuse: Missing Files 'Probably Destroyed'

The top civil servant at the Home Office has admitted that more than 100 files containing allegations of child sex abuse at Westminster were probably destroyed.

Mark Sedwill told MPs he was concerned about the material that has been lost, and admitted there are no records of which files have gone missing.

Mr Sedwill was questioned by MPs at the Home Affairs Select Committee over his department's handling of sex abuse claims made over a 20-year period.

He announced he has appointed Richard Whittam QC to lead an inquiry into the department's actions in response to information it received about abuse during the 1980s and 1990s.

He said he shared the executive summary and broad conclusions with Home Secretary Theresa May after a report was produced in June, but it was "not appropriate" for her or her advisers to see the full version.

Mr Sedwill said he did not recall telling Mrs May until several months later that 114 files were missing.

"I shared with the Home Secretary the executive summary and broad conclusions (and) I told her what we were doing with the material," he said.

Mr Sedwill stressed that the inquiry had not found any evidence that documents had been inappropriately destroyed.

It comes a day after Mrs May announced two new inquiries will be held into allegations senior politicians and public figures abused children in Westminster.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless has been asked to assess the quality of a review into abuse claims, as well as the response of police and prosecutors to information passed on to them.

Mrs May also announced a wider independent inquiry into the handling of child sex abuse allegations by state institutions and bodies such as churches and the NHS.

That inquiry will be chaired by Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former head of the Family Division of the High Court, who is best known for overseeing the inquest of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed.

Sky News has also been told at least 10 well-known serving or former politicians have been accused of abusing children.

Dr Jon Bird, of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac), said the names had been given by callers to the charity's help line "again and again".

He also warned there would be more names to follow.

Dr Bird said: "The names of people in very high places - politicians, senior police officers and even some judges - have been going around as alleged abusers for a very long time.

"Since the Jimmy Savile revelations, there's been a sea change in the way police and the CPS respond to these sorts of complaints and now, at last, it looks like these people are going to be investigated."

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