Political cover up of child abuse in UK ‘may well’ have happened
Former cabinet minister says instinct in 1980s was to protect ‘the system’
UK prime minister David Cameron has urged Mark Sedwill, the permanent secretary at the Home Office to do everything he can to establish what happened to more than 100 missing official files relating to historic allegations of organised child abuse which was handed to the then home secretary Leon (now Lord) Brittan by Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens in 1983. Photograph: Chris Jackson/PA Wire
Labour peer Baroness Helena Kennedy and the former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Tebbit appearing on the BBC One current affairs programme, The Andrew Marr Show. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire
The former UK Conservative cabinet minister Norman Tebbit has said he believes there “may well” have been a political cover-up over child abuse in the 1980s.
Lord Tebbit, who served in a series of ministerial posts under Margaret Thatcher, said the instinct of people at the time was to protect “the system” and not to delve too deeply into uncomfortable allegations.
His comment came as the Home Office announced a fresh review into what happened to a file alleging paedophile activity at Westminster which was handed to the then home secretary Leon (now Lord) Brittan by the Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens.
Appearing on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show, Lord Tebbit said: “At that time I think most people would have thought that the establishment, the system, was to be protected and if a few things had gone wrong here and there that it was more important to protect the system than to delve too far into it.
“That view, I think, was wrong then and it is spectacularly shown to be wrong because the abuses have grown.”
Asked if he thought there had been a “big political cover-up” at the time, he said: “I think there may well have been. But it was almost unconscious. It was the thing that people did at that time.”
Meanwhile, reports also emerged today that Lord Brittan has been questioned by police in connection with a rape allegation.
Lord Brittan was understood to have been interviewed under caution last month after a woman claimed she was raped in London in 1967, according to the Independent on Sunday.
The Conservative peer is thought to strongly deny the allegation.
He was quoted by the newspaper as saying: “I’m sorry, I’m not going to talk about anything like that.”
His lawyers could not be reached for comment.
A Met Police spokesman said: “In late 2012, a woman alleged to the Metropolitan Police Service that she was raped by a man in 1967 at an address in London.
“The woman was over the age of 18 at the time of the incident.
“The allegation is being investigated by officers from the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command.
“In June 2014, a man aged in his 70s was interviewed under caution by appointment at a central London location in connection with the allegation. He was not arrested.
Lord Brittan was elected as an MP in 1974 and went on to serve as Home Secretary in Margaret Thatcher’s government from 1983 to 1985.