Head of abuse team at Leigh Day welcomes announcement of an IPCC investigation into alleged child abuse by public figures
A leading abuse law expert has today welcomed an investigation into allegations that a police operation to gather information regarding child abuse by public figures including Cyril Smith was stopped and the evidence discarded.
The information passed to BBC Newsnight claims that a senior officer involved in the intelligence-led operation, believed to have started in 1981, ordered to scrap the inquiry; evidence that has come to light as part of the MET’s own investigation into the handling of child sex abuse cases.
Despite refusing to answer specific questions put to them by the BBC program a spokesperson for the force did say it was now ‘investigating allegations that police officers acted inappropriately in relation to non-recent child abuse investigations’.
Human rights and abuse law expert Alison Millar from Leigh Day said the need to thoroughly investigate the allegations is of ‘paramount importance’ to understanding how abuse inquiries carried out by the MET have taken place and been handled historically.
Alison said: “An investigation will be crucial to providing victims of abuse with an explanation as to what happened to the inquiry regarding Mr Smith and the other public figures, and to clarify what happened to the evidence obtained during the operation.
"In the event the investigation confirms the allegations that the police investigation was halted, who ordered this and was there involvement of parliamentarians or the intelligence services?
"A thorough investigation carried out as urgently as possible is essential in order to understand what exactly happened during the inquiry and provide victims with the answers they need.
"I am concerned that the IPCC has decided that this investigation should take the form of a ‘managed’ investigation, conducted by the MET’s professional standards department under IPCC oversight and not an independent investigation.
"In view of the IPCC’s acknowledgement that the allegations passed to it are of high level corruption of the most serious nature it is surprising indeed that the IPCC feels that the police can investigate themselves and in my view this inquiry should be taken out of the hands of the MET to ensure there is confidence in the robustness of its eventual conclusions.”
According to the BBC’s source a substantial amount of evidence was collated that men were abusing boys aged about 14 – including video footage from a camera that had been installed in a set of flats located less than a mile from the House of Commons.
It is understood that all of the evidence gathered was later confiscated, with reports that officers were warned to keep quiet about the investigation or they would face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.
Commenting on the BBC Newsnight report Labour MP Simon Danczuk said he believed that Smith, who died in 2010, was ‘being protected by some fairly powerful people’.
Mr Danczuk has urged the Government to give unequivocal confirmation that any police officers who disclose information about what happened will be protected from repercussions, calls which wew would support.