Mon, Nov 05, 2012 - Page 6 News List

UK official backs new child sex probe

SAVILE SCANDAL:Two men who had been wards in children’s homes said they had been abused by a high-profile Conservative politician and their claims were ignored

AFP, LONDON

The children’s commissioner for Wales has backed calls for an inquiry into fresh claims that a senior British politician was involved in a pedophile ring.

The claims surround activities at children’s care homes in north Wales between 1974 and 1990, which were the subject of an inquiry in 2000.

However, the BBC news program embroiled in the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal aired a report on Friday in which two men who grew up in the homes claimed they had been abused by a top politician and their complaints had not been considered by the original inquiry.

The report on Newsnight did not name the man, but said he was a leading Conservative politician from former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s administration, from 1979 to 1990.

Wales Children’s Commissioner Keith Towler, whose job is to protect the rights of youngsters, insisted concerns about a cover-up by powerful people were “understandable” and a full investigation was the only way to resolve the issue.

“I would support a full inquiry,” he told BBC radio.

“The fact that we have someone on camera now who was clearly a victim of appalling abuse ... and people told him that he could not say these things and he couldn’t talk about people who had abused him, is clearly wrong. The fact that he is now saying that and he has now said it so publicly means we have to respond to that,” he said.

The politician in question was described as a shadowy figure of high public standing, but the Newsnight report said there was simply not enough to go on “to name names.”

The BBC has been plunged into crisis over allegations that the late Savile, one of its top presenters from the 1960s to the 1980s, abused hundreds of youngsters, with Scotland Yard considering him one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders.

Savile, who died last year aged 84, has been accused of abusing about 300 victims over a 40-year period at a number of institutions, including the BBC and three hospitals.

Savile is alleged to have assaulted pupils at Duncroft Approved School in the 1970s.

A picture in the Mail on Sunday newspaper showed he signed the visitors’ book in 1974 saying: “Jimmy Savile called — and fell in love with all!!! I wonder if it’s legal to have 20 wives.”

The Sunday Mirror newspaper had extracts from Savile’s out-of-print 1974 autobiography As It Happens, in which he told how he agreed to do one local authority’s charity ball if they arranged for six girls to sleep in a tent beside him on the hillside.

An independent review is taking place at the BBC into the decision in December last year to drop a Newsnight item on Savile containing allegations of abuse.

The scandal has snowballed since claims that Savile molested underage girls were broadcast in an ITV television documentary screened last month that picked up on Newsnight’s dropped investigations.

British Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Maria Miller told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that the BBC could face a full inquiry into the Savile allegations if its independent probes do not get to the truth of the matter.

“If the investigations are considered not to suffice because of issues around transparency, process or other such things, then a public inquiry remains an option,” she said.

Comedian Freddie Starr and 1970s glam rocker Gary Glitter have been arrested on suspicion of sexual offenses by detectives investigating the allegations surrounding Savile.

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