Met calls for more abuse inquiry witnesses

Steven Rodhouse of the Met makes a witness appeal on BBC radio
Steven Rodhouse of the Met makes a witness appeal on BBC radio
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THE Metropolitan Police yesterday launched a fresh appeal for witnesses to come forward in its inquiries into historical child sex abuse.

Officers are currently running 18 investigations into claims of abuse dating back several decades but yesterday deputy assistant commissioner, Steven Rodhouse, head of crime and operations at the Met, said they were “challenged” by a lack of victims coming forward.

“We do think we are getting somewhere with these wider inquiries – witnesses are emerging day by day,” he told the BBC. “If anyone has been a victim of non-recent sexual abuse I want them to come forward. The point to make is, that we will go where the evidence takes us, without fear or favour.”

The appeal came as the Met faces claims that it covered up sex offences for high profile individuals, including the late Liberal MP, Sir Cyril Smith.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating 14 separate referrals spanning four decades.

Yesterday Rodhouse said the public could be confident that the Met has a “very good track record” of co-operating with internal investigations, pointing out that it was the Met which referred itself to the IPCC.

Last week the IPCC said that the cover-up claims were of “high-level corruption of the most serious nature”.

The allegations include suppressing evidence, hindering or halting investigations and covering up offences due to the involvement of members of parliament and police officers.

One of the more recent Met Police inquiries, set up in November, Operation Midland, is examining claims that boys were abused by a group of powerful men from politics, the military and law enforcement agencies in the 1970s and 1980s. It is also examining claims that three boys were murdered.

It has focused on the Dolphin Square estate in Pimlico, not far from the Houses of Parliament.

Last week, the Prime Minister faced calls to guarantee that police and intelligence officers who give evidence over the alleged VIP paedophile ring in Westminster will not be prosecuted.

The move came after claims were made on the BBC’s Newsnight that officers who arrested Smith on suspicion of hosting sex parties with teenage boys were warned to keep quiet about the investigation or face prosecution under the Official Secrets Act.

Tom Watson, the Labour MP who first spoke out in parliament about a Westminster paedophile ring in October 2012, urged David Cameron to shield whistleblowers from that law.