Allegations made to Britain’s home office in the 1980s about the existence of a paedophile ring did not involve prominent politicians or celebrities, an inquiry has concluded.
However, more than 100 home office files cannot be found, although there is no evidence that they were “deliberately or systematically removed or destroyed to cover up organised child abuse”.
The charges were made by a now deceased Conservative MP, Geoffrey Dickens, who approached the then home secretary, Leon Brittan, who was thanked by Dickens for his "splendid help" at one point.
The cases, including one case in Brighton that made national headlines, were passed on by the home office to the director of public prosecutions, according to the report.
The report was written by Peter Wanless, chief executive of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), and senior lawyer Richard Whittam QC.
However, home secretary Theresa May plans a general inquiry into the handling of paedophile allegations by the police and other authorities, given suspicions that influential figures blocked inquiries.
Ms May had asked Mr Wanless and Mr Whittam to investigate the handling by the home office of Mr Dickens’s allegations, though the two said they had found nothing to “support a concern” that files had been removed in a cover-up.
Under the rules at the time, police files were destroyed after two years in cases where allegations had not led to a charge. The report’s authors said they could not say that “no file was removed or destroyed” to hide abuse.
The home secretary said that all allegations made to the authorities about child abuse should be marked as “significant” once they are received to ensure they are properly handled by officials.
She said she had asked Mr Wanless and Mr Whittam to inquire into the handling by the police and prosecutors of allegations about abuse that were made to them and to check on the actions taken by MI5 if it was informed of allegations.