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Wealth and power meant establishment ignored child abuse

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Issue 2693
Cyril Smith
Cyril Smith (Pic: Wikimedia/Creative Commons)

The establishment spent decades turning “a blind eye” to allegations of child sexual abuse.

An investigation into historical allegations against MPs, peers and civil servants working in Westminster, published on Tuesday, found political institutions “significantly failed”.

There was also “striking evidence” of how “wealth and social status insulated perpetrators” from being brought to justice. As an example, former Liberal party leader Lord Steel ignored abuse by MP Sir Cyril Smith because it was “past history”. He recommended Smith for a knighthood.

MI5 pushed for a cover-up of abuse allegations against Peter Morrison, who was a minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government.

Both Thatcher and Lord Tebbit knew of the allegations.

The report says “considerations of political embarrassment and the risk to security were paramount” in Morrison’s case. Child abusing senior spy Sir Peter Hayman escaped prosecution after his solicitor lobbied the then Director of Public Prosecutions in person.

He was the beneficiary of “preferential, differential and unduly deferential treatment”.

The inquiry is problematic in its restricted terms of reference.

But it rightly concludes, “These are examples of a political culture which values its reputation far higher than the fate of the children involved.”

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