Controversy hits Westminster as inquiry reveals they covered up child sex abuses for decades

Peter Morrison

British politicians are once again at the centre of controversy after it came to light that they turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of children and actively covered up allegations for decades.

The report found significant failures by Westminster institutions in their responses to allegations of child sexual abuse. However, the inquiry did not find evidence of an organised paedophile network in its examination of the period, covering the 1960s through until the '90s.

The 173-page report, published on Tuesday, found several members of parliament in the 1970s and '80s, including Peter Morrison and Cyril Smith, were "known or rumoured to be active in their sexual interest in children and were protected from prosecution in a number of ways", by police, prosecutors and political parties.

Morrison, then MP for Chester, had been the minister for energy as well as trade and industry during the 1980s when Margret Thatcher was prime minister.

Questions of his sexual activities led to correspondence between MI5 and the cabinet secretary, Sir Robert Armstrong, about whether he was a security risk.

At one stage, the inquiry heard, Morrison was discouraged from visiting Russia in case he was blackmailed.

Meanwhile, both Morrison and Smith received knighthoods.

The inquiry found about 30 instances of people's honours being forfeited after they were convicted of crimes involving sexual abuse.

Thatcher also pushed for a knighthood for Jimmy Savile, which he got in 1990, despite revelations in the media about the TV presenter's sexual abuse of children, the report said.

The inquiry also discussed the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), which campaigned for the public acceptance of paedophilia and for changes in the law to allow adults to have sex with children.

The report said that PIE's aims were given foolish and misguided support for several years by people and organisations who should have known better and that there was a fundamental failure to see the problem and confront it.

The inquiry found no evidence that the Home Office funded the campaign group.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) - of which the Westminster investigation is one strand - is one of the largest and most expensive ever undertaken in the United Kingdom.

It began work in 2017 and is expected to take five years to complete.

Home Secretary Priti Patel hailed the "strength and courage" of the victims who testified during the inquiry.

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