Calls backed for new inquiry into paedophile ring

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The Children’s Commissioner for Wales has backed calls for a new inquiry into allegations that a senior Tory was involved in a paedophile ring three decades ago.

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

The intervention came after a victim of the north Wales care home scandal criticised the way the original Waterhouse Inquiry was conducted.

A tribunal led by Sir Ronald Waterhouse heard evidence from more than 650 individuals who had been in some 40 homes between 1974 and 1990, publishing its report in 2000.

But in an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight programme, Steve Messham said its terms of reference meant he was not able to raise abuse that took place outside the care system.

“In the home it was the standard abuse, which was violent and sexual. Outside it was like you were sold, we were taken to the Crest Hotel in Wrexham, mainly on Sunday nights, where they would rent rooms,” he said.

Mr Messham said a senior Tory from the time, who was not named by the programme, had been involved.

Mr Towler told BBC Radio 5’s Saturday Edition programme: “I would support a full inquiry. The fact that we have someone on camera now who was clearly a victim of appalling abuse in Bryn Estyn children’s home back in the 1970s and 80s, 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 BBC’s interview with Mr Messham was aired on Friday, after a month in which Newsnight has been repeatedly criticised over its decision to drop an investigation into alleged paedophile Jimmy Savile.

Bosses at the corporation have now launched two inquiries into the Savile scandal. Yesterday, however, Culture Secretary Maria Miller warned that the BBC could face a public inquiry if its own investigations failed to properly explore the case.

Mrs Miller said: “The real challenge for the BBC is to make sure that the outcome of these reviews really gets to the bottom of these accusations.

“If the investigations are considered not to suffice because of issues around transparency, process or other such things, then a public inquiry remains an option.”

Detectives fear Leeds-born BBC TV and radio host Savile abused as many as 300 young people over the course of six decades.

Scarborough MP Robert Goodwill yesterday voiced concern at suggestions that police had not searched the late star’s old flat in the town since the claims about him emerged at the start of last month.

Mr Goodwill said: “I would have thought if there was any evidence in the flat the police would be keen to ensure it was searched as soon as possible. I’m surprised it has not been searched already. He may have had a computer inside, itemised phone bills, or papers.”

Police have been pictured apparently carrying out searches of Savile’s old home in the Scottish Highlands.