Rt Hon Theresa May MP, Home Secretary, 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF
Dear Theresa May
As survivors and associated professionals, we were very much hoping to take up the invitations to engage with your Ministerial Officers to discuss the Child Sex Abuse Inquiry but we regret to say we have to decline. We, alongside many survivors, have made numerous representations to you regarding our view that the Inquiry as it stands is not fit for purpose. Its Terms of Reference (ToR) are inadequate for delivering the original declared intentions of the inquiry, namely to investigate government and establishment cover ups of paedophiles in their ranks and aiding bringing the perpetrators to justice.
Secondly, both your appointees to Head the Inquiry Panel have had to be forced out by survivors because of obvious conflicts of interest, and you have failed to address similar issues regarding other Panel appointees.
Thirdly, that the cut-off date for the Inquiry investigations was set at 1970 is highly disturbing given that the 1969 Children’s Act transferred Home Office run youth establishments, from which thousands of abuse allegations eventually emerged. It highlights the lack of transparency regarding the Home Office’s dealings with the Inquiry, not to mention the apparent obfuscations and manipulations in the defence of the appointment of Fiona Woolf. As a result, the Home Office seems to be running the Inquiry to meet others’ needs rather than those of survivors and the public.
We therefore have little option but to end engagement with the Inquiry and call on other survivors, whistleblowers, associated professionals and agencies to follow suit until, as Home Secretary, you:
• announce the scrapping of the current panel and its replacement on a transparent basis
• declare a statutory inquiry
• announce that the TOR will focus on: 1) Organised & Institutional Abuse – hearing evidence from survivors of such abuse 2) Extending the cut-off date to 1945 and linking with Inquiries in other parts of the UK 3) Setting up a dedicated police team at the National Crime Agency to take evidence alongside the inquiry to investigate and prosecute offenders 4) Holding those that have failed in their professional duty or covered up allegations or been obstructive to account.
Andy Kershaw and Tony Martin (Survivors of Forde Park)
Bobby Martin, Gang Intervention Advisor & Islington Care Home Survivor
Luke Payne, Child Trafficking Survivor.
Nigel O’Mara, Former Survivors’ Helpline Counsellor/ Public Relations Officer
Caroline Carnot, Author & Founding Executive Care Leavers Association
Peter McKelvie, Whistleblower and former child protection worker
Dr Liz Davies, Reader in Child Protection, London Metropolitan University
Ruth Stark MBE, President International Federation of Social Workers
Ann Davis, Emeritus Professor of Social Work and Mental Health, University of Birmingham
Phil Frampton (Founding Chair, Care Leavers Association 2000-04)
Stephen Morris, Church of England Children’s Society Careleaver
Brian Douieb, Former Leaving Care Social Work Manager
Les Huckfield MP for Nuneaton 1967-83. MEP for Merseyside East 1984-89
Dr Kenneth McIntyre, CPsychol, AFBPsS
Dr Paul Redgrave, Director of Public Health, Barnsley 2004-09
Ed Nixon, Chief Executive, Family Care Associates
Anne Southworth, Senior National Education Specialist (Audit Commission) – Retired
Dr Rachel Chapple, Social Anthropologist, Founder, Real Stories Gallery Foundation
Councillor Ann Kerrigan
Ann Mallaby, Justice Campaigner
Andrea Enisuoh, Community Organiser, Hackney Unites
Miriam Day, Writer and survivor of childhood sexual abuse
Robert Chewter, Campaigner
Fiona Woolf is following in the footsteps of Elizabeth Butler-Sloss with a similar cogent reason. This is an emerging pattern which should surely be taken by Teresa May as a warning. The Inquiry is seen by those most likely to benefit from it, victims of abuse and professionals trying to help them, as a cover-up of cover-ups. It has been set up because the establishment is no longer trusted by those most vulnerable to the abuse of power. No wonder there is now a power struggle being waged over its composition, remit and structure.
At the heart of the choices made about who is to chair the Inquiry and who is to sit on the panel are some fundamental questions. Who is to decide the process? Who is to control it? Who can be relied on to speak truth to power? The main group of stakeholders are surely those survivors who have been abused then betrayed again via inaction and the concealment of evidence and are now not assured of a process in which they can take part. They have been patronised as a ‘victim community’ by Woolf and as yet have no structured way of giving evidence.
Professionals and survivors witnessing and working in the field of child protection for decades have collective experience that should be helpful and is being overlooked. We wish to know why. Is it part of the continuing need for containment and denial that acknowledged experts in the field who have thought and learned most about the problems are not being consulted? Some are labelled as beyond the pale in terms of the establishment; some have had their careers constrained and blighted by the need of society not to know the truth about these things. Yet this group has hung on in there hoping one day that society will begin to acknowledge the enormous iceberg of systemic abuse in our midst and will want to know what they can tell them about its deliberate containment and use of scapegoating to deflect public concern.
This is a big ask of course. But the questions for today might be, how can the evidence of survivors be heard and acted on? What alternatives are there to an inquiry which inspires no confidence? For example, why is the whole issue not being given the status and resources of a Royal Commission? This of course would be extremely costly, it would not be a quick fix, but would perhaps be a fitting acknowledgement by government and society of the extent of the institutional cover-ups from the 1980s and even earlier decades. It might go some way to restoring the faith of those who most need the truth to emerge.
Sue Richardson, Psychotherapist
Heather Bacon, Consultant Clinical Psychologist (retired)
On Saturday, October 4th, survivors and campaigners will launch white balloons and lay white flowers outside the abandoned children’s home at 114 Grosvenor Avenue in Islington London, in memory of those scores of young people whose lives were destroyed and ultimately taken down by the impact of child abuse whilst in the care of Islington Council. Nicholas John Rabet committed suicide in 2006 rather than face trial in Thailand for abuse of 30 boys. Whilst deputy superintendent at Grosvenor Avenue he was accused of abuse but, although there was a police investigation, he was not charged in the UK.
Too Many Have Died, Too Many Lives Destroyed… Stop Government Child Abuse Cover Ups. Time for Truth
Parliament Must Act… White Balloons & Flowers Vigil – Join us Saturday October 4th, 1.45 pm at 114 Grosvenor Avenue, Islington N5 2NY
Commemorate the Innocent. Please Bring White Balloons and Flowers
Safeguard Our Children Today
Please forward to others even if you can’t contribute in time or flowers to the occasion.
Labour leader Ed Miliband has made a statement saying that the government should get a move on in setting up a national inquiry into organised child abuse.
“The case now is overwhelming for the Government to get an overarching inquiry into child abuse up and running. We have seen scandals of child abuse in different institutions, in different parts of the country and stretching across different decades. An overarching inquiry has been delayed too long and needs to get moving as fast as possible to start listening to all those who have been let down by a system set up to protect them.” (BBC News)
This is in sharp contrast to the condescending and evasive reply that Ed Miliband’s office gave to a handwritten letter from Peter McKelvie demanding a national inquiry, which referred to an open letter to David Cameron (see below). The reply sounds like it’s discussing a complaint about roadworks, instead of decades of horrific child abuse and subsequent cover-ups by people in authority.
Miliband’s main interest in supporting an inquiry at this late stage seems to be political expediency, after Labour-run Rotherham council has been shown to have allowed 1400 vulnerable children to have been abused, raped, and exploited over a 16 year period.
Dear Mr. Cameron
On the very day, 24th October 2012, that Tom Watson asked you a PMQ re. the possibility of a link between a very large and highly organised paedophile ring and No 10, you made a number of quotes to the mainstream media.
You were in fact referring to the Savile/BBC/NHS scandal.
I made a note of some of those quotes :-
”The Government will do all it can do, other institutions must do what they can do, to make sure that we learn the lesson of this and it can NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN”
“Collusion should NEVER happen again ”
”The measure of how our society is, is how we treat its most vulnerable members”
There are no more vulnerable members of our society than children who have been taken in to care and then re-abused by the very people charged with the responsibility of caring for them and protecting them,and even worse then passing them on to be further abused by the very people who make the laws in this country and are expected to lead the way on the moral compass of that society.
I have no doubt that you have watched or been made aware of Channel 4′s Dispatches on 12th September and the allegations that arose from it regarding the role of senior politicians, the security services and the Crown Prosecution Service in covering up the horrendous abuse carried out by Cyril Smith over 5 decades.The overlap with Savile in terms of who knew about this abuse were laid bare.
I also have no doubt that you are aware that your colleagues in your party, Edwina Currie,Gyles Brandreth and Rod Richards have made very damning statements of how well known in Westminster circles it was that Peter Morrison was a dangerous paedophile, and yet his career was unaffected as he rose to be Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, Mrs. Thatcher’s PPS in 1990 and her campaign manager that same year despite this knowledge having been around for many years.
I also have no doubt that you are aware of the statement of Tim Fortescue,Edward Heath’s Chief Whip from 1970-73, made public on Michael Cockerell’s BBC Documentary in 1995 called “Westminster’s Secret Service “.
Talking about the role of the chief whip, Fortescue said ” For anyone with any sense who was in trouble would come to the whips and tell them the truth ………….. it might be erm erm a scandal involving small boys ……….. we would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points ……. and if I mean, that sounds a pretty,pretty nasty reason, but it’s one of the reasons because if we could get a chap out of trouble then,he will do as we ask forever more.”
I don’t need to tell you of the revulsion I feel towards our political masters having worked with sexually abused children for over 30 years when I heard of how the Whips ran the Dirt Book system.
Your colleague, John Whittingdale, in his role as Chair of the Culture Committee,put himself forward as the moral voice of Parliament in the days following the exposure of Savile on national TV.
He lost no opportunity to appear on every news channel for many days to demand in effect the head of the Director General of the BBC.To date I have not heard you or Mr. Whittingdale demand such investigations in to your own institution despite the mountain of concern a small proportion of which I have referred to above.
Just on Savile alone without looking any further why was there no investigation along the lines of the many BBC inquiries in to why a British Prime Minister was so close to Savile that he allegedly attended 13 consecutive New Year’s Eve parties at Chequers and why the same Prime Minister allegedly persevered for many years in insisting that such an evil man long identified as having a deviant sexual history should get a knighthood,ignoring the advice of her closest advisers.
Why was the same man so welcome in Prince Charles’s properties despite the security services and similar vetting institutions having enough opportunity to tap in to the ” gossip” about Savile that was around for decades.
I would dearly like to go in to more detail but until the Metropolitan Police’s Operations Fernbridge and Fairbank are completed then for obvious reasons I can not.
In the aftermath of the Lord McAlpine affair I was extremely disappointed by the confusion you attempted to create by making accusations of gay witch-hunts. There is no connection whatsoever between being gay and being a paedophile.
This is about and only about people who abuse young children regardless of whether the abuser is heterosexual or gay.
There is no witch-hunt against gay people and it was most irresponsible for a Prime Minister to make such a statement when the abuse of our most vulnerable was the issue.
Now is the time for you to show the genuine commitment expected of a Prime Minister and do what you preached in those statements last October especially ” COLLUSION SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN ” and the demand that ALL institutions look inwards and examine their role in past collusion/cover up.
A starting point, and to give Parliament and Government any credibility in this heinous historical scandal, is for you to put all party political considerations aside and arrange an urgent meeting with Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband to draw up a blueprint as to how your own institution will be investigated along the lines of the way you and colleagues demanded that people be brought to account in the BBC or NHS for their failure to blow the whistle on Savile.
It would be better if you led such an exercise before it is forced upon you by public demand.
The latter will happen in time.
A starting point would be an immediate statement that there will be urgent cross-party talks to set up an independant body to examine who ordered these cover ups of people like Smith and Morrison, after ordering an immediate Police investigation by the National Crime Agency and ensuring that the latter body has sufficient resources to go wherever the evidence takes them and however long it takes. This must include the investigation of living politicians, police officers,civil servants,security services personnel etc.
Peter McKelvie has given me permission to publish a letter he sent to a senior Labour politician on 3rd August. No reply has been received as of today (8th August). The politician’s name has been redacted for the time being.
Dear (name redacted)
I am a retired Child Protection professional and the person who contacted Tom Watson, MP, in September 2012, as a result of which he asked a PMQ on 24th October 2012 regarding a paedophile ring with links to No.10, a question which led to the Metropolitan Police setting up Operation Fairbank/Fernbridge, which I ‘m sure you will be aware is both ongoing and rapidly expanding following significant witnesses at long last coming forward to tell the truth about the alleged appalling collusion of senior politicians of all the main political parties in the alleged abuse carried out by their colleagues.
I was sickened to the stomache when I first heard Edward Heath’s Chief Whip, the late Tim Fortescue’s account on Michael Cockerell’s 1995 BBC documentary of how Whips covered up criminal activity by MP’s towards young children and I don’t need to tell you the revulsion I felt towards our political masters having worked with sexually abused children over a 30 year period when I heard of how the Whips ran the Dirt Book system.
I was very pleased to see the BBC Newsnight team show the Tim Fortescue interview again on 7th July this year because survivors of abuse now have more strength, belief and courage than politicians are going to be braced for. Time is on their side and this time they will not go away until they get the answers they deserve.
I wrote to David Cameron on 16th September 2013 asking him to set up an independent body to examine the allegations of abuse by elite groups within the Establishment and said ” It would be better if you led such an exercise before it is forced upon you by public demand. THE LATTER WILL HAPPEN IN TIME “
Not only did people power win the day on the demand for an independent inquiry but it further demonstrated to politicians that survivors and their supporters would not accept token gestures such as the appointment of puppet figures to lead such an Inquiry.
My reason for writing to you is very specific.
You will be aware how the evidence against Peter Morrison has become much more specific in recent months culminating in a statement by Barry Strevens, Mrs. Thatcher’s personal bodyguard that he warned her that Morrison was ” involved in sex parties with under-age boys “
Graham Nicholls, who ran the Chester Trades Council when Morrison was Chester’s MP, wrote the following :-
” After the 1987 General Election, around 1990, I attended a meeting of Chester Labour Party where we were informed by the agent, Christine Russell, that Peter Morrison would not be standing in 1992. He had been caught in the toilets at Crewe Station with a 15 year boy. A deal was struck between Labour, the local Tories, the local press and the Police that if he stood down at the next election the matter would go no further. Morrison walked away scot – free. “
An Independent Inquiry will need to examine this alleged scenario in forensic detail.
For the last 2 years I have been working closely with a very trusted, committed and dedicated team of retired police officers, investigative journalists and child protection managers and we will do everything in our power to assist and support survivors to get the answers as to who colluded over the horrific abuse they suffered at the hands of powerful individuals.
Survivors have shown enough faith in some of our group to disclose historical abuse that they have felt too frightened to talk about for decades.
It is through my work with this group that I have now received from 3 seperate sources an account of an alleged role that you personally played in the cover up over Peter Morrison’s rape of children and young people which he allegedly carried out in the full knowledge of senior politicians of all main parties.
This is the gist of the allegations :-
” A British Aerospace Trade Union Convenor said a member said he was raped by Peter Morrison as a child – the Convenor went to the National HQ of the union who put it to Labour front bench. (name redacted) was saying that the Tory Front Bench had been approached. “
This I’m sure you will agree is very specific.
A second and third source confirms these allegations and it is alleged that these conversations first took place at a 1993/4 Xmas party hosted by the Welsh Parliamentary Labour Party.
I would like to give you the opportunity to address these allegations as they implicate you in a very serious cover up of the rape of a child.
Obviously I have no way of knowing whether the statements of other people are true but I will certainly present the allegations to the Independent Inquiry and demand that everyone involved is interviewed on oath.
Below is the Home Office’s response to the open letter to Theresa May which called for for Michael Mansfield QC to chair the child abuse inquiry and for the Terms of Reference to be revised. Read full letter here
Please note that no contact name was given, which is a slight change from the previous policy of using fictitious names such as ‘L.Smart’ (see A Visit to the Home Office).
Thank you for your letter of _ July to the Home Secretary regarding an overarching inquiry into child sexual abuse. Your email has been forwarded to the Safeguarding and Vulnerable People Unit for a response.
Work continues to identify and appoint a suitable chairman and we will announce this as soon as possible so this important work can move forward. The membership of the panel will be a matter for the independent chairman who will be appointed shortly.
The Government is committed to tackling child sexual abuse and is very aware of the serious and often long-lasting effects of these terrible crimes on victims. The Government is clear that if a person has suffered sexual abuse, however long ago, and they go to the police about what they have been through, then we expect the police to do everything in their power to help those victims, and everything possible to investigate the complaint.
On 7 July the Home Secretary announced an inquiry panel into child sexual abuse. This inquiry will consist of a panel of experts and will consider whether public bodies, and other, non-state, institutions, have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse. The inquiry will consider all the information from the various published reviews and identify any issues or allegations requiring new or further investigation. It will advise on any further action needed to address any gaps or failings within our current child protection systems on the basis of the findings and learning from these reviews.
It will be a wide inquiry and will look not just at state institutions but at other bodies to see whether they have been protecting children appropriately. The inquiry panel will have access to all the Government papers, reviews and reports that it needs and will be free to call witnesses from organisations in the public and private sectors, and in wider civil society. The terms of reference will be published when they are agreed, and further information will be made available on how the panel will gather evidence in due course.
A progress report will be made to Parliament before the General Election. The Home Secretary has been clear that, if the Chairman concludes that formal inquiry powers are required, we will ensure the inquiry is converted to formal inquiry status.
In terms of lessons learnt, and as the Home Secretary stated in the House of Commons, the National Group that Norman Baker, the Minister of State for Crime Prevention, is leading has already brought forward proposals on how the police and prosecutors could better handle these matters and it will continue with its work. That will feed into the work of the wider inquiry panel. As you will appreciate from the Home Secretary’s statement, the Government feels it is right to set this review up as an inquiry panel so that it can begin its work without jeopardising the criminal investigations taking place. It will look at what, if any, gaps there might be in our current work that mean we are not properly protecting children and, if there are any, what appropriate mechanisms could be put in place to ensure that those gaps are filled.
Thank you for writing about this very important issue.
Safeguarding and Vulnerable People Unit
Last Friday (August 1st, 2014), Margaret Hodge, Labour MP for Barking and Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, issued a statement on the poor treatment of whistleblowers, and how they are often victimised by managers (see Rayeev Syal, ‘Public service whistleblowers ‘treated shockingly’, report finds’, The Guardian, August 1st, 2014). Hodge was earlier Leader of Islington Council from 1982 to 1992, during which time the council was beset by a terrible child abuse scandal affecting most of the children’s homes in the borough. Liz Davies was a social worker for Islington Council who acted as the principal whistleblower about this scandal; she is now Reader in Social Work at London Metropolitan University. Below I reproduce, with permission from Dr Davies, an open letter from her to Margaret Hodge in response to Hodge’s recent comments.
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The Times, 28th July 2014
by Sean O’Neill
Theresa May faced calls last night to appoint a self-described “radical lawyer” as chairman of the public inquiry into high-profile child abuse cases.
A group of abuse survivors, lawyers and care professionals wrote an open letter to the Home Secretary calling for Michael Mansfield QC to be selected to lead the inquiry.
Mr Mansfield, who is retired from the Bar, is renowned for his work on cases from the Birmingham Six appeals to the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. He also represented Mohammed al Fayed at the inquest into the death of his son and Diana, Princess of Wales.
The letter states: “The chair of this inquiry will need fearlessness, to be prepared to challenge the authorities and to ask and get answers to very difficult questions. This is a role that can only be undertaken by someone clearly seen as outside the establishment.”
The authors include John Hemming MP, Peter Saunders, the head of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, former athlete and abuse victim Kris Akabusi and Mark Williams Thomas, the journalist who uncovered the Jimmy Savile scandal.
In the letter, they also called for the scope of the inquiry to be widened and said the current proposal would merely be a review which would not take evidence from victims of abuse. There is, however, concern that a broader public inquiry could jeopardise ongoing criminal investigations.
Police forces are currently engaged in 21 investigations into historic abuse allegations featuring prominent individuals or institutions.
Mrs May had originally appointed the retired judge Baroness Butler Sloss to lead the inquiry but her credibility was called into question because of her establishment links and after The Times revealed allegations that she had withheld the name of a Church of England bishop from a previous report because she “cared for the Church”.
The children’s charity Barnardo’s has also urged the Home Secretary to appoint a chairman for the inquiry as a matter of urgency.