'Tens of thousands' could be victims of alleged Westminster child abuse, senior MP warns

19/01/2015 08:13

THE NUMBER of victims in an alleged child abuse scandal at the heart of the Westminster establishment could run into "many tens of thousands", a senior MP warned.

Labour backbencher John Mann made the comments earlier this week

Labour backbencher John Mann fears the state won't be able to cope with the numbers of victims

Labour backbencher John Mann, who is campaigning for a wide-ranging investigation of the historic allegations, feared that the state "can't deal with" the huge volume of claims that are being made.

Mr Mann spoke out  in a BBC interview in response to comments earlier this week from Baroness Butler-Sloss, who stepped down as head of a planned public inquiry into the scandal.

The retired judge cautioned against victims being given too greater say over who heads the probe.

Her comments come as the future of the investigation, which has been ordered by Home Secretary Theresa May, remains in doubt.

Mr Mann called for a national institute to be established to investigate the allegations because the existing authorities could not cope with the mass of complaints.

The state can't deal with the numbers of people coming forward.

John Mann

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, the Bassetlaw MP said there had been too much discussion of who was going to run the Government's troubled inquiry into paedophile activity, and suggested a national institute needed to be created to make progress.

"It's not just about who chairs an inquiry, it's about what the remit of an inquiry should be, who else should be sat on that inquiry, who should be advising it," the Bassetlaw MP said.

"As an example, one of the things that survivors' groups are calling for in the discussions I've had with them is for government to set up a national institute to take forward this work on what you do with all these people coming forward.

"Probably, it's going to be many tens of thousands of people across the country. The state can't deal with the numbers of people coming forward.

"The police and social services cannot cope with the volume that's there, even now. And we're hardly at the beginning of people coming forward."

Mr Mann went on: "I'm getting vast numbers of people, including my constituents, coming forward making allegations. Many of those people came forward in the past and weren't listened to or weren't believed.

"And that's a key part of the problem. What do you do with people making allegations against people, and nothing was done in the past, when the people they're making allegations against in some cases are dead?"

Mr Mann has handed a dossier of allegations of abuse dating back to the 1980s - said to include complaints against former key figures in the political establishment - to Scotland Yard.

Moves to set up an inquiry followed allegations that a paedophile ring operated at Westminster during the 1980s.

The probe is set to investigate whether "public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales".

An inquiry panel has started work but has no-one to lead it after its first two nominations resigned. Two candidates for chair - former judge Baroness Butler-Sloss and ex-Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf - have already had to stand aside over their establishment links.

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