UK historic sex abuse inquiry will not rule on politicians
Public concern over a paedophile ring at Westminster has “diminished considerably” says senior lawyer
Westminster - Stefan Rousseau/PA
The inquiry into historic child sex abuse cases will not rule on whether allegations against Westminster figures are true, its senior lawyer has said.
The probe will instead focus on whether accusations of abuse were handled appropriately.
The investigation will form part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, which was set up in 2015 in aftermath of the Jimmy Savile scandal, amid claims that a paedophile ring had operated in Westminster.
But Andrew O’Connor, QC, the inquiry counsel on the Westminster strand, told its first hearing yesterday: “We suspect that much of the public concern relating to Westminster child abuse issues may have been created, or at least exacerbated, by a lack of knowledge.”
He added that concern over the allegations had “diminished considerably” since Scotland Yard’s Operation Midland had been discredited.
Brian Altman QC, the lead Counsel to the inquiry, added that those making accusations against politicians would be described as ‘complainants’ rather than victims or survivors.
He said: “We will generally refer to those who have made allegations of sexual abuse as ‘complainants’, except where there has been a criminal trial which has resulted in a conviction, or where the fact of the abuse has otherwise been formerly established.”
The probe will now look at whether politicians attempted to influence police investigations, how political parties dealt with allegations of abuse and the honours system.
It was also consider concerns that Home Office money was handed to the Paedophile Information Exchange - a group which supported sex with children.
Decisions on the specific claims about individuals will be left to the courts and to police.
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