David Cameron. Photo Reuters
British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing calls to
launch a full-scale inquiry into allegations that well-known
politicians abused children in the 1980s, after an official
said the government had lost files that may shed light on the
The allegations, which purportedly involve powerful and
famous figures of that era including politicians, made
headlines after an opposition lawmaker raised them in
They have resurfaced at a time when the British authorities
are investigating and trying to prosecute celebrities and
other well-known figures in public life over other unrelated
historic allegations of sexual misconduct.
The opposition Labour Party has called for an "overarching
review" into the child abuse allegations, accusing Cameron's
Conservative-led government of not doing enough and of
failing to grasp the matter's gravity.
"Given the extent of concern about this, Theresa May (the
Home Secretary) should not simply be leaving it to officials
and to the prime minister to resolve," Yvette Cooper,
Labour's spokeswoman for home affairs, said in a statement.
"She needs to make sure there is a process people can feel
confident in - to get truth and justice, but also to protect
children in future."
The way the public perceives Cameron's government's handling
of the allegations is important for the British leader, who
is up for re-election next year.
INDEPENDENT LEGAL FIGURE
One of the country's top civil servants, Mark Sedwill, wrote
to Cameron on Saturday to say he was appointing a "senior
independent legal figure" to judge whether the conclusions of
an internal review into the matter last year remained sound.
That person would be appointed "within the next week", he
Sedwill said separately on Saturday in another letter that
the review last year had concluded that Britain's Home Office
(interior ministry) had passed nine allegations about child
abuse onto the appropriate authorities at the time.
He said the review had uncovered a further four pieces of
information which had not been previously disclosed which had
since been passed to the police.
In comments which prompted some politicians to talk of a
possible cover-up, he said that 114 "potentially relevant
files" had been destroyed, were missing or could not be
Michael Gove, Cameron's education minister, said on Sunday
that whilst he did think it was important the allegations
were looked at he did not think a full-scale inquiry was
"It's also important, I think, to emphasise that many of the
allegations that are being made are historic and that what we
do now ... in order to keep children safer is immeasurably
better and stronger than was the case, you know twenty or
thirty years ago," Gove told BBC TV.
"No", he said when asked if the government should undertake a
Norman Tebbit, a former Conservative minister, said he
thought there "may well" have been a political cover-up in
the 1980s, but said: "But it was almost unconscious. It was
the thing people did at that time." However, David Mellor,
another former Conservative minister, said he thought the
matter had been exaggerated and that a "witch hunt" was
In 2012, police said Jimmy Savile, one of Britain's
best-known TV presenters in the 1970s and 1980s, had sexually
abused hundreds of victims, mainly youngsters, at hospitals
and BBC premises over six decades until his death aged 84 in
On Friday, entertainer Rolf Harris, a household name in his
native Australia and his adopted home Britain, was jailed for
almost six years for repeatedly abusing young girls over
decades as a host of children's television.