The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, has said that the series of “stomach churning” allegations about child abuse that may have been included in a dossier submitted to the former home secretary, Lord Brittan, should be investigated by the police. Today he called on anyone with information about alleged abuse to contact the police.
Clegg spoke out on his weekly LBC phone-in after Brittan confirmed that he was passed a “bundle” of claims by the late MP Geoffrey Dickens in 1983 and gave it to his officials to investigate.
Last year the Tory peer said he could not remember receiving the dossier, but on Wednesday he released a statement saying he could now recollect a meeting with Dickens. He said he had asked officials to look into the claims and could not remembering hearing any more about it.
But a Home Office review from last year found Brittan had written to Dickens in 1984 saying the material had been assessed by the director of public prosecutions as worth pursuing and “passed to the appropriate authorities”.
Brittan released a second statement saying he had only just been made aware of last summer’s review, which proved that appropriate action had been taken. He said the report was “entirely consistent” with the action he set out in his first statement.
Clegg said that the police should be free to investigate the allegations after a Home Office review last year found that it no longer had the relevant paperwork. The review published a letter from Brittan saying the paperwork had been examined and passed to the prosecuting authorities and the police.
Clegg, who worked for Brittan in Brussels during the former home secretary’s time as the European trade commissioner, spoke out after the Labour MP Simon Danczuk challenged Brittan earlier in the week to share his knowledge about the file prepared by Dickens. It contained information about the “Paedophile Information Exchange (Pie). (You can read our article on PIE here)
Danczuk, who has investigated claims of abuse by the former Liberal MP Cyril Smith (You can read our article on Cyril Smith here), has called for a “Hillsborough-style” inquiry to prevent child abuse allegations involving politicians being “swept under the carpet”.
The Home Office review, which looked at what information the department received about organised child sex abuse between 1979 and 1999, found no evidence that material had been improperly handled.
“The independent review has confirmed that the Home Office did receive information from Mr Dickens in November 1983 and in January 1984 about alleged child abuse,” the report said. “Copies of the material have not been retained but a Home Office file contains a copy letter dated 20 March 1984 from the home secretary in response to Mr Dickens. The letter confirms that the information was considered at the time and that any matters requiring investigation were referred to the police.”
Dozens of MPs are now demanding an overarching inquiry into how the government allowed child abusers such as Jimmy Savile (You can read our article on Jimmy Savile here) to operate in state-run institutions such as the NHS and the BBC. This is being resisted by Downing Street.
The Lib Dem leader said that police and prosecutors needed to explain what they did with a crucial document compiled by an MP that outlined the allegations. He added that police were now looking again at the claims and should be allowed to get on with their work to allow “justice to be done”.