Home Office may never release abuse files, MP warns

THE HOME Office knows where its child abuse files are but might never release them, a campaigning MP has warned.

Rotherham Town Hall, Moorgate

Files relating to Rotherham’s sex abuse case and historic child abuse by MPs and other figures have either been lost or held back by the Home Office and are now the subject of a high level investigation by Peter Wanless chief executive of the NSPCC.

But Labour MP John Mann has told The Yorkshire Post Mr Wanless faces a difficult task in getting the Home Office to release crucial reports.

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Mr Mann has told this paper he has had witnesses come forward with evidence of abuse by “prominent individuals” newly linked to abuse enquiries such as the Elm Guest House child abuse scandal.

The Labour MP for Bassetlaw says he knows of further alleged paedophiles linked to the London guest home at the centre of Operation Fernbridge, in which the police are investigating claims of abuse by politicians civil servants and judges.

Mr Mann said he has handed over new evidence to at least two police forces and is urging victims to come forward.

He was speaking as the Home Affairs select committee publishes its look at the Rotherham abuse scandal in which at least 1,400 victims were failed by the police and the council.

In its report, the committee said it had serious concerns that research conducted by Home Office staff went missing when sent to Whitehall and other information was stolen from facilities provided by Rotherham Council.

The committee said a draft report for the Home Office in 2002 is thought to have contained severe criticisms of the agencies in Rotherham.

The most serious concerned alleged indifference towards, and ignorance of, child sexual exploitation on the part of senior managers.

The researcher told the committee that “an unknown individual subsequently gained access to her office and removed all of the data relating to the Home Office work. There were no signs of a forced entry and the action involved moving through key-coded and locked security doors.

“She was also subjected to personal hostility at the hands of Council officials and police officers, and was unable to complete the last part of the research.”

Earlier this week Rotherham report author Prof jay said she herself had been denied council minutes from a four year period covering the late 1990s and early 2000s because the council had apparently lost the minutes of key meetings.

Mr Mann said he had already faced the Official Secrets Act when enquiring into when evidence will be released.

“Without question there are a lot of important files regarding abuse in the Home Office that they are now claiming are missing.

“I think these files still exist, I think there are people in the Home Office who know where they are and what has been removed from where.

“The problem Mr Wanless will face is that where prominent people are involved the Home Office is prepared to use the Official Secrets Act.

“I do not see how Mr Wanless will be able to properly do the job he was brought in to do.”

He added that he has spoken to several abuse victims this year.

“I will continue to investigate this, I will pass on evidence to the police of prominent individuals, something I have done to two police forces this year as a result of new evidence.”

Mr Wanless is looking at how the Home Office handled allegations of child sex abuse that were set out in a dossier in the 1980s by former Conservative MP Geoff Dickens, and how police and prosecutors handled information given to them.

At the conclusion of this Mr Wanless will look at the Rotherham files.

It is thought the Home Office will publish an update on the Wanless inquiry by November.