There is no evidence that senior public figures covered up allegations of child abuse in the 1980s and 90s, according to a report published today.
The report, carried out by NSPCC chief Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC at ministers’ request, looked at two previous reviews into the allegations and examined whether files alleging abuse between 1979-99 had been removed, destroyed or tampered with.
Peter Wanless said the investigation found no evidence of this, although he admitted that it could not guarantee that reports had been not been removed. He said there was “nothing specific” to suggest the Home Office had concealed widespread child abuse.
“We found nothing to support a concern that files had been deliberately or systematically removed or destroyed to cover up organised child abuse,” the Wanless report stated. But Wanless also told MPs that the files were “a mess”.
Home secretary Theresa May promised further scrutiny, today telling the House of Commons that she had written to Wanless and Whittam to “seek further reassurance that the police and prosecutors acted appropriately upon receiving information”. She said she had also asked for similar reassurance about any information that was passed to the security service.
The report followed an internal Home Office inquiry found 114 files potentially relating to allegations of child abuse were missing.
Sir Tony Hawkhead, chief executive of Action for Children, said: “Whether abuse took place yesterday or 30 years ago, those who have suffered must be listened to and know that when they come forward, action will be taken.”