Home Office child abuse review “not uncovered any evidence” of cover-up

Home Office child abuse review “not uncovered any evidence” of cover-up

The official Wanless review into the Home Office’s handling of child abuse allegations in the 1980s has judged that it would be “very difficult to prove anything definitive” in relation to the 114 files identified as “destroyed/missing”.

The report said that “based on registered papers we have seen, and our wider inquiries, we found nothing to support a concern that files had been deliberately or systematically removed or destroyed to cover up organised child abuse.”

The Home Office’s senior civil servant, Mark Sedwill, commissioned chief executive of the NSPCC, Peter Wanless, to conduct an independent review of how the Home Office dealt with files alleging abuse from 1979-99. Specialist crime lawyer, Richard Whittham, QC, joined Wanless in gathering evidence and writing the review.

Due to police protocol to destroy any paper records relating to allegations which did not lead to a charge within two years, the review found it was “not possible to say whether files were ever removed or destroyed to cover up or hide allegations or organised systematic child abuse”.

The report also found no record of any specific allegations made by the late Geoffrey Dickens, MP, relating to child sex abuse by prominent public figures, stating: “There is no mention of prominent politicians or celebrities in the cases under discussion.”

The report labelled the recording of child abuse cases as “risky” and recommended that future files containing allegations should be marked as “significant”, with a clear system on handling, retention and, if required, destruction of files held within the Home Office.