UK's Cameron orders investigation of child abuse claims

Mon Nov 5, 2012 5:18pm EST
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By Mohammed Abbas

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron ordered an investigation on Monday into the way claims of child abuse in Wales were examined after a victim said an unidentified Conservative Party figure had abused children in social care in the 1970s.

Speaking during a trade mission to the United Arab Emirates, Cameron said the allegations, aired by the BBC's flagship current affairs program Newsnight, were so grave that they needed further investigation.

The unmasking of late BBC star presenter Jimmy Savile as one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders has prompted wider concern that some powerful paedophiles from the 1970s and 1980s may have used their influence to avoid punishment.

Steven Messham, one of hundreds of victims of sexual abuse at children's care homes in Wales over two decades, told the program that he had been sexually abused by a prominent Conservative political figure and others in the late 1970s.

"Child abuse is an absolutely hateful and abhorrent crime and these allegations are truly dreadful and they mustn't be left hanging in the air, so I'm taking action today," Cameron said.

"I'm going to be asking a senior independent figure to lead an urgent investigation into whether the original inquiry was properly constituted and properly did its job, and to report urgently to the government."

Cameron said Messham, who had asked to meet him, would be granted a meeting with the minister for Wales.

It was impossible immediately to verify Messham's claims. The Newsnight reporter said he could not name the figure because there was "simply not enough evidence to name names".   Continued...

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron delivers his keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, central England October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Toby Melville