Depraved child abuse 'involved senior Tory'

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Child abuse claims in north Wales are now once again attracting attention
Child abuse claims in north Wales are now once again attracting attention

Frustration over the unanswered questions relating to allegations of child abuse involving a senior Conservative politician is continuing to mount.

It follows victim Steve Messham's claim that the Tory grandee was among those who had abused under-age boys as part of a paedophile ring which operated in north Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.

"You were just sexually abused. Drink would be involved. It was basically rape, but it wasn't just him. There would be other people involved as well," he told BBC2's Newsnight programme.

"I was taken to him by a carer. Cars would pull up outside the home and you were taken. There's be a Porsche, there's be a Jag, and you were taken."


Messham added in an interview with the Sunday Express newspaper: "It was terrifying. There was a group of paedophiles who would regularly abuse boys at the home.

"One of them was a very senior member of the Conservative party and someone very close to the establishment."

The children's care commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, has called for a fresh inquiry to investigate what took place. A probe published in 2000 uncovered appalling abuse at Bryn Estyn, a care home for boys, and at about 40 other care homes.

It referred to an important public figure but did not investigate further.

"It's easy for us now to feel really quite suspicious about why those constraints were put on the Waterhouse inquiry because... for us now in 2012 that would be absolutely unacceptable," Towler told BBC Radio 5 Live.

He called for a fresh inquiry, warning: "Unless you do that, that level of suspicion will always be around this, that there is a cover-up, that there is a containment exercise going on, that we have to protect somebody and nobody should be protected."

An initial investigation into allegations of abuse in the early 1990s by Clwyd county council ended up being pulped by the local authority.

Welsh secretary William Hague then ordered the Waterhouse inquiry, which took three years to identify 28 alleged paedophiles.

Labour MP Tom Watson described wrongdoing "so heinous it made me cry" as he recounted stories told to him by victims.

"They have talked of ¬psychopaths marking children with Stanley knifes to show 'ownership'," he said.

"They tell of parties where ¬children were passed around the men. They speak of golf course car parks for child abuse after a game.

"And they have named powerful people – some of them household names – who abused children with impunity."

Messham has demanded a meeting with David Cameron. "He's made a statement, a sweeping statement that abused people need to be believed, we haven't been believed, we've been swept under the carpet," he told Newsnight.

"It's time he knew the truth. It’s time a full investigation took place and until I can meet with him and get some reassurance I don’t believe we will get anywhere."

Downing Street called on Messham to raise the issue with the police, saying in a statement: "If someone is concerned that an allegation was reported in the past but not fully investigated, they should raise this with the police or relevant authority so that they can look again at what happened."

The government now seems more willing to consider a public inquiry into the claims of abuse surrounding former BBC presenter Jimmy Savile, which refocused attention on historic abuse cases.

Culture secretary Maria Miller told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that a further probe would be possible if the BBC's own investigations did not get to the truth.

"If the investigations are considered not to suffice because of issues around transparency, process or other such things, then a public inquiry remains an option," she said.

"The real challenge for the BBC is to make sure that the outcome of these reviews really gets to the bottom of these accusations."

Newsnight's editorial decision-making will form an important part of the investigation. The programme found itself accused of creating a 'smokescreen' for the Savile abuse claims by a senior Whitehall source quoted by the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

"The danger is that the people at the BBC think that after not running the Jimmy Savile paedophile programme that they need to be more editorially robust and muscular," Conservative MP Rob Wilson said.

"But if that is what is behind this, it is absolutely crazy."

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