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Tory party shaken by child abuse and cover-up accusations

by Sadie Robinson


Abuse victims have made damning allegations that a number of senior Tories abused children—and that the establishment covered it up.

One victim, Steven Messham, said he was abused at a children’s home in north Wales during the 1970s and 1980s.

He added that children would be “sold” to adults to be abused—and that one of his abusers was a senior Tory official.

Steven said, “We were taken to the Crest hotel in Wrexham, mainly on Sunday nights, where they would rent rooms.”

He says he was raped “more than a dozen times” by the Tory and that the politician said he would kill him if he reported the abuse.

At least one other person has also accused the same politician of abuse. Channel 4 news reports that the politician has “vehemently denied” the allegations.

As with the Jimmy Savile abuse scandal, the allegations point to an institutional cover-up and failure to protect children.

Steven said that when he tried to report the abuse to police, he was dismissed as a liar. “We have not been believed,” he said. “We have been swept under the carpet.”

Savile himself said he felt safe from police investigation because some officers were implicated in abuse. “It was well known that were I to go I would probably take half the station with me,” he wrote.

Failed

Police have failed to search Savile’s seaside flat in Scarborough, north Yorkshire, even though it is about to be sold. Savile entertained his friends in the police there and at his Leeds home in what was known as his “Friday Morning Club”.

Former students at Duncroft Approved School in Surrey have said Savile abused them during visits there when the school was under direct Home Office control.

Surrey Police investigated Savile over the allegations in 2007 but the Crown Prosecution Service ruled there was insufficient evidence. The head teacher there, Margaret Jones (see below), says police did not question her.

An investigation into abuse in north Wales children’s homes in 2000 found that 240 people had been abused in 40 homes. The report, by Sir Ronald Waterhouse QC, said the abuse was systematic and that a culture of secrecy existed in dozens of children’s homes.

It mentioned 200 people who were abusers, alleged abusers, or failed to protect children. But Waterhouse protected the identity of 28 alleged abusers. Those not named include two senior Tories.

Waterhouse dismissed claims that the politicians had abused children as “fantasy”. There could now be a new investigation into that inquiry. And David Cameron has announced an inquiry into the allegations.


Police forces failed to connect cases

Several police forces could be investigated over their handling of allegations of abuse involving Jimmy Savile. Surrey, Sussex and Jersey police forces were aware of allegations against Savile. Others could also be involved.

Solicitor Alan Collins is representing five of Savile’s victims. He said, “There are key questions about what happened to several claims made against Savile and who decided how they should be followed up.

“There are police forces who had complaints on their books and chose not, for whatever reason, to pursue matters. That is a serious concern. We need to know—did they look at their databases? Did they talk to each other?”

Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said that seven victims came forward to four police forces, but that police didn’t connect them. He said that officers and others may have “relied a little bit too much on his reputation and his word that he did nothing”.

Even Hogan-Howe admitted that had officers connected the allegations, they would have seen a “pretty awful” pattern. Former and serving police officers could be questioned over how the complaints were dealt with.


‘Saint Jimmy’ used school

The former head teacher at Duncroft Approved School in Surrey has denounced women who have complained they were abused there as children by Jimmy Savile.

Margaret Jones said, “They had an opportunity to tell anybody. But it suited them—some of them, not all of them—to wait 30 years. They’re all looking for money.” She attacked “well-known delinquents” making “wild allegations”.

But it was the vulnerability of victims that helped allow the abuse to continue. As former Duncroft student Toni Townsend put it, “The girls at Duncroft had been sent there by the courts. Who would have believed us against Saint Jimmy?”

Seven national news desks turned down the Savile investigation documentary after it was axed by BBC’s flagship current affairs programme Newsnight.


Article information

News
Tue 6 Nov 2012, 17:54 GMT
Issue No. 2328
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