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Inquiry findings relating to Westminster abuse scandals

UK News | Published:

The probe found no evidence of a paedophile network.

During three weeks of evidence in March last year, witnesses described examples of cover-ups at the heart of Westminster to protect politicians from “gossip and scandal” – and worse.

Here are some of the main findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and its strand focusing on Westminster:

– There was “ample evidence” that individual perpetrators of child sexual abuse had been linked to Westminster.

Independent inquiry into sexual abuse
A 190-page report documenting the latest findings of the Independent Inquiry into child sexual abuse linked to Westminster (Ryan Hooper/PA)

The report said: “This included not recognising it, turning a blind eye to it, actively shielding and protecting perpetrators, and covering up allegations of child sexual abuse.”

– Abuse meted out by Westminster individuals has had a “profound” impact on victims.

The inquiry said this was “compounded by institutional complacency about child sexual abuse and indifference to the plight of victims”.

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A clockface at the Palace of Westminster (UK Parliament/Mark Duffy/PA)

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– Institutions such as political parties “regularly put their own reputations or political interests before child protection”.

– The inquiry panel “gained the distinct impression” that the whips’ offices were “concerned above all to protect the image of their party”.

The report identified “a consistent culture for years of playing down rumours and protecting politicians from gossip or scandal at all costs”.

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Avoiding scandal was seen as a priority (Andrew Matthews/PA)

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– There was evidence of overt and direct deference by police towards powerful people, such as a conscious decision not to arrest or investigate someone because of their profile or position, including a comment that police did not investigate certain Westminster toilets “to avoid the embarrassment of apprehending MPs and celebrities who frequented them”.

Police
Police deference was flagged up in the report (Joe Giddens/PA)

– Additionally, junior police officers did not challenge senior officers’ “questionable decisions during investigations of the powerful for fear of harming their own career prospects”.

– There was “striking evidence” of how wealth and social status “insulated perpetrators of child sexual abuse from being brought to justice” to the detriment of the victims of their alleged abuse.

The inquiry heard how poor and disadvantaged victims, in particular, were not taken seriously when allegations were made.

– Police were more concerned about prosecuting suspects than considering the welfare of sexually exploited children, witnesses said.

No.9 Downing Street
A view of Downing street (Toby Melville/PA)

– The Honours process has, in some instances, prioritised reputation and discretion with little or no regard for victims.

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The Honours system was found to show little regard for victims (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The inquiry said it “is a matter of grave concern that, even after a significant public outcry about allegations of child sexual abuse linked to Westminster, elected politicians and officers of political parties do not understand how to respond to allegations properly, or consider themselves in a position to make judgements about whether abuse is sufficiently serious to warrant referral”.

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