More calls for inquiry as 100 files ‘go missing’

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A FORMER Tory Cabinet Minister has said there “may well” have been a political over-up over child abuse in the 1980s.

Lord Tebbit, who served under Margaret Thatcher, said the instinct of people at the time was to protect “the system” and not delve too deeply into uncomfortable allegations.

It came following the Home Office’s disclosure that 114 official files relating to historic abuse allegations have gone missing.

Permanant secretary Mark Sedwill said the “potentially relevant” files relating to a 20-year period between 1979 and 1999 were “presumed destroyed, missing or not found”.

In a letter to David Cameron, he also said he was appointing a senior legal figure to review how the Home Office dealt with a dossier by the late MP Geoffrey Dickens alleging paedophile activity at Westminster in the 1980s.

Asked if he was thought there had been a “big political cover-up” at the time, Lord Tebbit told the BBC there “may well have been”, adding: “It was almost unconscious. It was the thing people did at the time.”

A solicitor representing victims of alleged child abuse Alison Millar said it was an “absolute necessity” to have an independent inquiry, which creates “a safe environment for survivors of abuse.” She added: “At the moment the allegations are so serious and go so far up in the Government, to make many survivors fear for their safety.”

But Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude insisted it was “too soon” to call for an overarching inquiry, though that may be the answer longer term. And Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he did not rule out a wider inquiry, but made it clear that ongoing police investigations would have to take precedence.