Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Theresa May’s more sensible way forward

Theresa May, home sercretary. Pic Credit: conservatives.com

Theresa May, home sercretary. Pic Credit: conservatives.com

After the complete debacle over the rushed appointment  and swift resignation of Baroness Butler-Sloss to  head the overarching inquiry into child sex abuse, Theresa May met six of the ” Magnificent” seven MPs again.

An account taken from a  couple of them appears on the Exaro site today suggests that the Home Office has now reverted to the way it has followed in setting up all other independent panels, including the Daniel Morgan and Gosport hospital inquiries which means consulting people before appointing people.

From my own sources I always thought Theresa May was rushed into making a decision by a Downing Street panicked by newspaper headlines.

The good news is that the six MPs were unanimous that a survivor MUST sit on the panel and  the home secretary  was open to names. It was also clear that the government will not be rushed again to announce a new chair of the inquiry. MPs also stressed the need for proper help for victims

As important will be the terms of reference for the inquiry, how the inquiry gathers evidence, how far it can investigate and whether the police and the security services get immunity in passing over information.

Here the Home Office will have to do some hard thinking to make sure that the inquiry panel;  must be both seen  to act without fear or favour or people  will lose confidence in its ability to  get to the real facts.

It must be able to go anywhere and tackle the issues in places where there are still secrets like Jersey and Northern Ireland.

It must not just be a lessons learned exercise from previous work – even though that  is all-encompassing in itself – given the large number of inquiries and police investigations.

This is a once in a lifetime chance to sort out the sordid history of child sexual abuse in the United Kingdom and make recommendations – from the investigation of the scandals to proper after care for survivors. The government – and any future government after 2015 – must not blow it this time.

Child sex abuse:The audio file that names an ex Tory Cabinet minister

An audio  recording that names a former Tory Cabinet minister in connection with alleged child sex abuse is expected to be heard by MPs shortly.

This latest dramatic development is reported fully on Exaro’s website is of an interview with a customs officer who witnessed seeing the minister on a seized videotape at Dover,

The video is political dynamite. Customs and Excise seized it, along with other “indecent or obscene” films and videos of children, from Russell Tricker, a businessman, as he attempted to bring the material into the UK from Amsterdam.

Senior managers took over the case at the time, and are understood to have passed the video cassette to the Security Service, MI5. Tricker was released, and no further action was taken.

The fact that MPs want to hear this should mean that the police will have take this latest claim seriously as they will have to decide whether to hand over the tape to the new child abuse inquiry, summon the customs officer to give evidence to Parliament  or press the police to follow up this incident properly.

Yet another fast moving development in a story that is not going to go away.

 

Class War 2014: The Rich Kids of Snapchat

Bullingdon : The earlier generation before Rich Kids on Snapshot

Bullingdon : The earlier generation before Rich Kids of Snapshot

If ever David Cameron’s claim that we are all in it together needed to be proved false, look at a site on Facebook called the Rich Kids of Snapchat.

Set up by a 17 year old British public schoolboy and liked by 244,000 people this site celebrates the life style of the super rich public schoolboys – the new generation expecting to run Britain in a decade or so.

Far from having any concern for the rest of us, this ” fun ” site worships money, fast cars, Gucci, luxury yachts and private jets,champagne and has an unhealthy interest in guns.

It is virtually the calling card of the new ” Bullingdon Club ” and the kids know they are the new ” boss class ” – the future generation of Tory Cabinet ministers, entrepreneurs and flashy businessmen and bankers. And some will have the vote in next year’s election,

Among the fun pictures are kids using £50 notes as toilet paper, £20 notes for tablecloths, handling guns to protect their estates from the ” peasants”, and commuting from home to public school by private helicopters or showing they have a £10m private bank account at Coutts.

Not surprisingly this has produced a reaction across the net with people calling for the site to be taken down, and a spate of hostile comments – sometimes producing ripostes like warning people to shut up as they will be their boss in future life.

More seriously as the Inforrm blog reveals  these antics have posed problems for the more mature seriously rich parents who wish to hide their opulent life styles from the rest of us and pretend “we are all in it together”.

As the Inforrm blog says : ” The consequences could be very serious for those wealthy teens, and their families, where potentially inflammatory images appear which include identifying information such as faces, car registrations and locations.

One 19 year old, who frequently posted about his lavish lifestyle and who was featured on Tumblr site “Rich Kids on Instagram”, has already run into trouble, having had several luxury cars from his father’s rental business subsequently set alight by vandals, causing over £500,000 worth of damage to his father’s business.

Another featured ‘rich kid’ was Alexa Dell, daughter of Dell Inc. CEO Michael Dell, who posted an image of her brother tucking into a feast onboard a private jet, bound for Fiji. She also used her Twitter account to regularly post details of her location, complete with GPS location tagging- somewhat undermining the annual US$2.7 million her father reportedly spends on family security.  Upon discovering this, Alexa’s account was removed and her image has been taken down.”

The blog rightly points out that in an era of unemployment and  poverty where ceo’s have made people redundant  this  can be inflammatory.

It rightly adds:” a teen bragging about the lavish lifestyle of his or her CEO parent who has recently made redundancies or been the recipient of a sizeable bonus can easily catch the eye of a journalist on the hunt for a story – as can any images posted by a naive child who has a parent in the public eye. “

But to me the whole site seems symptomatic of a yawning divide opening up in the UK and the last thing I would want to see is it taken down. Such antics provide the perfect foil to attack the wealthy Lynton Crosby and the image he wants the Tories to present to the electorate of the ruling class in the next election. Spoilt brats revealing themselves for what they really are!

Meanwhile in true entrepreneurial fashion the site is up for sale by its 17 year old owner. He has been offered $150,000 by an American but might let it go for a mere $40,000 to a Brit with spare cash from his pocket money.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Child sexual abuse inquiry:Butler- Sloss quits after Exaro reveals Havers Kincora inquiry connection

Baroness Butler-Sloss Not her brother's keeper

Baroness Butler-Sloss Not her brother’s keeper

Baroness Butler Sloss made a dignified exit as chair of the new  overarching child sexual abuse inquiry today because of a damaging conflict of interest caused by her dead brother, the former attorney general, Michael Havers.

Her decision was announced after it was publicly revealed on the Exaro website that her brother ,Lord Havers effectively skewed the terms of reference of a  inquiry under the late  judge William Hughes to concentrate only  on staff abusing boys and not  possible prominent visitors to the Kincora boys home who are alleged to have abused them.

As Zac Goldsmith MP said on the BBC’s World at One: |”These kind of things are really big and it’s inevitable that a proper, all-encompassing inquiry would find its way all the way to Kincora. It would look at who set the terms of reference. It would look at who was excluded, who was protected by the terms of reference. And that would lead to Havers himself, who was responsible for that.”

Those who study publicly available documents can see both from the terms of the inquiry and an intriguing Cabinet minute already published on this website  which hoped this inquiry would end  “rumour and unfounded accusations”. about sexual abuse at the home.

The judge himself made pointed remarks:.

He wrote: “The conduct of the police, or elected representatives, or clergymen, or military intelligence or any other persons who may have been in receipt of allegations, information or rumours relating to Kincora or any other home, was not under scrutiny in this inquiry.”

What was missing was finding a source who could connect the setting of the terms of reference directly to the then attorney general, Sir Michael Havers.

Both me and my ex Guardian colleague  David Pallister were able to do precisely that over the weekend. A top level  source whose name we agreed to protect said : “Havers briefed him, and it was Havers who gave the terms of reference to him.”

From entirely separate sources I have been aware that Theresa May  has known that this could surface over the weekend and that it could cause immense problems for Baroness Butler-Sloss if she started to probe into the Kincora inquiry and the current inquiry going on in Northern ireland about historic child sexual abuse. But no action was taken.

To put in context Baroness Butler-Sloss is not to blame for this. She is literally in this case not her brother’s keeper. Nor is Theresa May who I have on good authority i\s committed to tackling this problem and was always more sympathetic to an overarching inquiry than David Cameron.

From yet another source the indecent rush to appoint someone to head the inquiry lies at the door of Downing street which shocked by the  slur of child abuse stories making headlines on Sunday made a rushed decision to set up an inquiry after ignoring the views of 145 MPs.

The real lesson from  this latest incompetent and botched up initiative is that  people need to reflect on who they want and take into account the views of victims and  child experts before rushing to fix a problem. The lesson is stay calm and sort it out properly. Otherwise it is just another episode for Yes, Prime Minister.

 

 

Magnificent Seven MPs champion survivors voices on new panel

Zac Goldsmith MP

Zac Goldsmith MP

The seven  MPs who demanded an overarching inquiry into child sexual abuse have written to Theresa May, the home secretary again – this time to say survivors must be appointed to the new independent panel.

My  report on  the Exaro website reveals that the seven have asked for a meeting to discuss who will sit on the panel and what the terms of reference should be.

The letter says: “If Lady Butler Sloss is to Chair the Inquiry, and given the many questions that have surrounded her appointment, it is essential that the group as a whole is absolutely robust, with a wide range of trusted representatives, including survivors.”

The good news is that all the MPs are agreed that survivor involvement is a must and a robust panel is essential. Zac Goldsmith said:”The strength and credibility of the inquiry will depend on the terms of reference and the panel of people, who must be absolutely bullet-proof.

The seven Mps are: Zac Goldsmith, Simon Danczuk ,Tessa Munt,Tom Watson,Tim Loughton,         Caroline Lucas and John Hemming.

It is excellent that the seven are emphasising the role for survivors and tough people on the inquiry. It is exactly what is needed. The signs are that Theresa May is willing to meet them possibly early this week as she is not expected to be affected by the reshuffle.

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Mark Reckless MP:My letter to PM on whips and child abuse inquiry

davidhencke:

This is a fascinating letter in the context of the child abuse inquiry and the growing scandal surrounding the sexual behaviour of MPs in Westminster and what information is known about them that is held by government and opposition whips.. The example he cites had nothing to do with sexual abuse but involved the ” cash for questions ” scandal that led to the resignation of Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith. There is an irony here giving I am investigating child sexual abuse in that I broke the story about David Willetts’ letter in the Guardian at the time and he had to resign. I did not know that it led to a decision to shred everything after the story was published. This letter makes compelling reading in the present context and raises many pertinent questions which is why I have reblogged this article.

Originally posted on Mark Reckless MP:

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Have the security services succeeded in censoring the MPs report on the murder of Lee Rigby?

Lee Rigby; Pic courtesy of AP Press

Lee Rigby;
Pic courtesy of AP Press

Very shortly before Parliament rises for the recess the newly strengthened Intelligence and Security Committee will produce their report on the circumstances that led to the atrocious murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

This report is very significant because it is the first to be completed where the MPs have had the powers to compel MI5 and MI6 to release all their information on the case.

Therefore it is not surprising as I have reported in Exaro  that the security services have hit back and  made robust demands for  redactions in what the MPs might have to say about their conduct.

We should be able to see how successful they have been if the report acknowledges where there have been redactions.

The soldier, a drummer in the Royal Fusiliers, was hacked to death in May last year in Woolwich, south-east London as he returned to his barracks. His killers, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, are understood to have been known to MI5 for several years.

Adebolajo’s relatives say that MI5 had even approached him in 2011 to become an agent after he was deported from Kenya. He is said to have rejected the approach.

I understand the row between the intelligence officials and parliamentarians is understood to centre on UK’s intelligence operations in Kenya. The officials say that the report contains too much detail of these operations.

What alarms me is that security services appear to be involved in a spin operation in the  mainstream media to cover up their failings by demanding new extra powers and even emergency legislation to allow them to read anyone’s website on the back of any informed criticism of their actions

Let me make it clear to any bored  security operative who might be reading this blog that I have not seen or read a word of the MPs report. But I am aware that there is a fierce battle going on- and while I respect the role of the security services in fighting terrorism to keep us safe – I don’t want to see a blanket removal of our civil liberties or our right to privacy.