37 famous Scots among child abuse suspects

Police Scotland: Investigating 37 public figures in connection to child abuse allegations. Picture: John Devlin

Police Scotland: Investigating 37 public figures in connection to child abuse allegations. Picture: John Devlin

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POLICE Scotland is looking into 37 famous names, including four from the world of TV, radio and film, as part of its investigations into historical child abuse dating back 70 years.

The force said it had 58 separate investigations which meet the criteria of Operation Hydrant, a body set up by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) to explore links between child sex abuse committed by celebrities and VIPs.

The Scottish figures were released after the NPCC said 1,400 suspects across the UK have been investigated by police looking into allegations of child sex abuse against politicians, celebrities and institutions.

In total north of the Border, there are 110 suspects, of whom 80 are named within police files. Twenty-six of the named suspects are now dead.

The oldest case dates back to 1947, and dozens of institutions, including schools and care establishments, have been identified as places where abuse is alleged to have taken place.

Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, of Police Scotland, said: “We are fully supportive and a key part of Operation Hydrant.

“Already, co-operation between police forces across the UK has had real benefits for investigations here in Scotland. We have a number of live investigations which are ongoing and which it would be wrong to comment on at this stage.

“But we are liaising with police forces elsewhere in the UK on a number of inquiries at present.” Mr Graham, who recently oversaw the creation of a National Child Abuse Investigation Unit, said child abuse investigations were becoming “increasingly complex”.

“The challenges facing the police service to offer routes to justice for survivors of historic abuse while continuing to safeguard and protect children who are at risk of harm today, are massive,” he said.

“Police Scotland will remain committed to treating all victims of sexual abuse, regardless of the passage of time, with sensitivity and respect.”

Along with the four suspects from the world of TV, film or radio, Police Scotland said 33 of its suspects had a “significant public profile” either nationally or locally. A number of these individuals have been named as being responsible for abuse within institutions, the force said.

It said 45 institutions had been identified in total, including: 17 educational institutions, 16 social care establishments, seven faith-based institutions, four leisure-based clubs/organisations and one health premises.

The NPCC said police across the UK had seen a 71 per cent increase in their caseload for reports of child sexual abuse in just three years.

The growth is being attributed to high-profile cases such as the Jimmy Savile scandal and Operation Yewtree, which has already seen Rolf Harris and former public relations guru Max Clifford jailed for sex crimes.

Operation Hydrant does not carry out its own investigations, but gathers information from other inquiries.

As well as Yewtree, ongoing investigations include Operation Pallial, which is looking at claims of abuse in care homes in north Wales and an inquiry into Knowl View School in Rochdale, where the late MP Sir Cyril Smith is said to have abused young boys.

Investigations have also looked into an alleged Westminster paedophile ring which is said to have abused young men at the Dolphin Square flats in Pimlico, south-west London.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is currently investigating the Metropolitan Police amid claims the initial investigation into Dolphin Square was dropped because “officers were too near prominent people”.

In Scotland, there have been allegations of sexual abuse made by former pupils at the Roman Catholic Fort Augustus School on the banks of Loch Ness. Other claims have been made by those who used to attend Nazareth House in Aberdeen and Larchgrove boys’ home in Glasgow.

Allegations have also been made against the late Conservative MP Nicholas Fairbairn and a prominent member of the legal establishment, Robert Henderson QC. Last year, Henderson’s daughter Susie waived her anonymity to allege she had been assaulted by her father and Fairbairn, both of whom are now dead, from the age of four.

She said they were members of an organised paedophile ring which abused her in her family’s Georgian house in Edinburgh’s New Town as well as other locations.

Norfolk Police chief constable Simon Bailey, the NPCC’s head of child protection, said: “These figures are stark. They indicate the scale of child abuse police are dealing with.

“Much public and media focus has been on horrors committed by well-known personalities, groups, gangs or in institutions, but the vast majority of victims are abused by family members or friends.

“Police have done a huge amount to meet the challenge: we have responded to criticism, changed how we engage with victims and how we investigate abuse.

“Many victims have now found confidence to report abuse, knowing we will treat them sensitively, respectfully, listen to them and take reports of their abuse seriously. I would encourage all victims of sexual abuse to come forward and report their abuse.”

Peter Wanless, chief executive for the NSPCC added: “These astonishing figures starkly underline how child sexual abuse has infiltrated every level of society, from politics to sport and

showbusiness.”

‘Figures are the tip of the iceberg’

Across the UK, the NPCC said they have seen a surge in the number of reports of abuse following the Jimmy Savile scandal three years ago.

Laying bare the sheer scale of the alleged abuse, police revealed they estimate they will receive around 116,000 reports of abuse by the end of this year – a 71 per cent increase from 2012.

According to the UK figures, 1,433 suspects have been identified and these include 261 “people of public prominence”.

Of these, 76 are politicians, 135 come from the world of TV, film or radio, 43 are from the music industry and seven are from sport.

Officers have identified 357 different institutions linked to the alleged abuse, including 154 schools, 75 children’s homes, 40 religious institutions and nine prisons.

But police, experts in child sex abuse and the Home Secretary Theresa May said the figures are only the “tip of the iceberg”. Millions of people in Britain believed to have suffered sexual abuse.

Mrs May told a Police Federation conference: “We will need to face up to the changing nature of crime and the impact on police forces, including the much greater reporting of previously ignored or under-reported crimes such as child sexual abuse.

“I have said before that what we are seeing is only the tip of the iceberg.”

Kate Ferguson

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