UK Family Law Reform

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Will there be a child abuse 'super inquiry'?

Ministers warned that allegations are the 'tip of the iceberg'

Home Secretary Theresa May announced National Crime Agency investigation into abuse in North Wales children's home in the 1970s and 80s

She also suggested the Government may launch a wider inquiry into claims senior Tories were involved

Ex-resident at Bryn Estyn children's home claims Thatcher aide abused boys

A single wide-ranging judicial inquiry into ‘absolutely horrific’ evidence of systematic child abuse by figures of authority over several decades looked increasingly likely last night.

There were growing cross-party calls for an over-arching investigation as the number of separate probes into allegations of paedophilia at the BBC, care homes and in Whitehall reached double figures.

Home Secretary Theresa May told MPs that the National Crime Agency (NCA) is to mount an investigation into alleged abuse in North Wales in the 1970s and 1980s amid claims that a senior Tory of the day was among the perpetrators.

But she suggested that a single, wider probe was being considered by the Government once initial police inquiries are concluded.

‘I think what is absolutely horrific, frankly, is the extent to which this child abuse has been taking place over the years and across our communities over the years,’ the Home Secretary said.

David Cameron, speaking on a trip to the Middle East, also opened the door to a broader judicial inquiry into the tide of historic child sex abuse allegations which began with revelations about Jimmy Savile’s paedophile activities at the BBC.

‘Let’s find out as quickly as possible whether we have a problem here. If we have a problem here then we have to take further steps,’ the Prime Minister said.

‘I don’t rule out further inquiries, further investigations, further ways of learning lessons because clearly we’ve discovered some appalling things in recent days, particularly on the Jimmy Savile front.’

On top of the Savile scandal – which has dragged in the NHS and the police – there are increasingly wild allegations of an establishment paedophile ring involving members of the Thatcher government.

NCA director general Keith Bristow will review the original police handling of complaints of a paedophile ring abusing children in care homes in North Wales, and examine the latest claims by an alleged victim.

Separately, High Court judge Mrs Justice Julia Wendy Macur is to lead a review of the Waterhouse Inquiry, an inquiry set up by the then Welsh Secretary William Hague, into allegations of child abuse at North Wales care homes.

‘The Government is treating these allegations with the utmost seriousness,’ Mrs May said.

‘Child abuse is a hateful, abhorrent and disgusting crime and we must not allow these allegations to go unanswered.’

Former Conservative children’s minister Tim Loughton said the Prime Minister had acted ‘commendably swiftly’ but there were now so many inquiries into child abuse, there was a serious danger of not being able to see ‘the wood for the trees’.

He called for one, over-arching investigation, adding: ‘This is just getting going, this is the tip of the iceberg, this is going to get bigger and it’s going to go into other areas.

‘We’re getting an inquiry a week. There are now victims out there whose voices are only beginning to be heard.

'I think we have just got to have one over-arching, robust inquiry led by a high-level figure.’

Labour’s deputy chairman Tom Watson, who last month claimed there was ‘clear intelligence’ suggesting a historic paedophile ring may be linked to Downing Street, criticised the Government’s response.

He said: ‘The lesson of Hillsborough and hacking is that a narrowed-down investigation is the basic building block of a cover-up.

‘To limit this inquiry to North Wales and Savile would, in my view, be a dereliction of the Home Secretary’s duty.’

In a direct attack on Mrs May, which drew cries of protest from the Conservative benches, he asked: ‘Does she sincerely want to start making amends or can she live with being what she has just announced: the next stage of a cover-up.’

n?The child protection system in England is failing vulnerable teenagers and is in urgent need of review, MPs warn today.

The Commons Education Committee said that while local authorities had a duty to safeguard all children up to the age of 18, too often the needs of older youngsters were not met.

It said its inquiry uncovered a ‘worrying picture’ of the protection and support available to children aged 14 to 18.

A change would be in the best interests of children.