TELEVISION presenter Phillip Schofield was under fire last night after he handed Prime Minister David Cameron a list of alleged Tory party paedophiles during a live TV interview.
The list, drawn from gossip circulating on the internet, was accidentally exposed to the cameras in a way which meant names were visible to millions of TV viewers.
A Downing Street source described Schofield’s actions on ITV1’s This Morning as a “silly stunt”, while Mr Cameron himself warned against a witch hunt against people who are gay.
The Prime Minister also raised concern about internet speculation over who might be embroiled in a scandal relating to abuse at children’s homes in North Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.
Mr Cameron’s official spokesman also warned yesterday against the dangers of “trial by Twitter” over the current child sex abuse allegations.
Schofield later apologised if the names had been visible as a result of a “misjudged camera angle”, and stressed that he was not intending to launch a witch hunt.
Last night, Tory MP Stuart Andrew, a councillor in Wrexham at the time of the original inquiry into the North Wales abuse scandal, described Schofield’s “ambush” as “completely irresponsible and an outrageous stunt”.
Mr Andrew, who now represents Pudsey, in West Yorkshire said: “Given the serious nature of this whole situation and the real complexity in terms of making sure these victims have the confidence to come forward, I thought it was a very cheap stunt to hand a list to the PM on a TV programme.
“It is not acceptable to take a cheap shot on something that is so fiercely sensitive.
“Anybody who has got any allegations to make must make them to the police, so they can be properly investigated.”
The Prime Minister also faced calls yesterday from a leading children’s charity to launch an overarching review into “lessons learned” from a series of child abuse inquiries which are currently under way.
National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) bosses referred to both the investigation into allegations of child sex grooming in Rotherham and the Jimmy Savile case.
Andrew Flanagan, NSPCC chief executive, said: “The NSPCC believes that the Government should now commit to an overarching ‘lessons learned’ review to pull together the findings from all the current inquiries into child abuse, once they are completed.
“Much has improved in recent years but the cases of grooming gangs in Rochdale, Rotherham and elsewhere show that major failures in child protection can and do still occur.
“Confidence in the system and the authorities’ ability to take action is at serious risk; we must now act decisively if we are to turn this around.”
Yesterday’s developments came as councillors in Leeds revealed plans to strip Jimmy Savile of the Leeds Award he received in 2008.
A full meeting of Leeds City Council will also scrap plans for a statue or some other form of memorial to the late television star following allegations that he sexually abused young girls.
Savile was never made an Honorary Freeman of Leeds, the highest honour the council can bestow, but on July 2, 2008 councillors granted him the Leeds Award, given to people who have made an outstanding contribution to the city.