Top Tory faces new inquiry into ‘sex abuse’ claims

Picture: TSPL
Picture: TSPL
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POLICE will today consider launching a new investigation into allegations of historic child sex abuse involving a Tory grandee from the Thatcher era.

The children’s commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, will also write to his country’s First Minister today, asking him to order a fresh, independent inquiry into the abuse of children at care homes in north Wales in the 1970s and 80s.

Sir Ronald Waterhouse: Investigated abuse allegations. Picture: PA

Sir Ronald Waterhouse: Investigated abuse allegations. Picture: PA

At the weekend, an MP who first raised the issue also said that he had been warned his safety was at risk if he pursued the claims.

The allegations focus on the Tory figure, whom The Scotsman cannot identify for legal reasons, but who has been named in online speculation. The claims, first reported by the BBC on Friday, had previously been investigated through the Waterhouse Inquiry.

Sir Ronald Waterhouse heard evidence from more than 650 individuals, who had been in 40 homes between 1974 and 1990, before publishing a report in 2000. However, it is alleged Sir Ronald did not uncover the full truth.

Steve Messham, one of those who were abused, said the terms of reference meant Sir Ronald was not able to consider incidents that took place outside the care system. Mr Messham said: “One particular night that I always recall is when I was basically raped, tied down and abused by nine different men.”

He said that a senior Conservative was among the abusers.

The Tory politician at the centre of the accusations has denied the claims and says he is prepared to sue the BBC for libel.

Ian Shannon, Deputy Chief Constable, said: “We are seeking to establish if there are any allegations that require new or further investigation. We will also be asking the Children’s Commissioner for Wales if he has any additional information that may assist us. Clearly the needs of victims and the protection of the public are at the forefront of our minds at this time.”

Mr Towler insisted concerns about a cover-up by powerful people were “understandable” and a full investigation was the only way to resolve the issue.

“I would support a full inquiry,” he added. “The fact we have someone on camera now who was clearly a victim of appalling abuse in Bryn Estyn children’s home, saying that what he wanted to say was outside of the terms of reference – and people told him that he could not say these things and he couldn’t talk about people who had abused him – is clearly wrong.

“The fact that he is now saying that, and he has now said it so publicly, means we have to respond to that.”

Mr Towler said the suggestion of a cover-up raised concerns that had to be addressed.

“The only way that we can clearly resolve that is to say, at the top of the tree, we will conduct that inquiry and we will allow that inquiry to go as far as it needs to go to make sure the evidence that witnesses want to give, and victims want to give, is fully heard.”

A spokeswoman for the commissioner said calling an inquiry would be a decision for the First Minister. She added: “[Mr Towler] is writing to the First Minister tomorrow to see what he intends to do.” .

Labour MP Tom Watson raised a question in the Commons last month about the alleged involvement of a senior Tory politician in abuses.

Writing on his blog this weekend, Mr Watson – who has not named the individual – said he had received warnings about his safety. “I’m not going to let this drop despite warnings that my personal safety is imperilled if I dig any deeper,” the MP wrote. “It’s spooked me so much that I’ve kept a detailed log of all the allegations.”