LONDON (Reuters) - The head of a review into the disappearance of a dossier handed to the government 30 years ago which accused figures at the heart of the British establishment of raping children, said on Tuesday there was no evidence of a high-level cover-up of sexual abuse.
Over the last few years, Britain has been rocked by a series of child sex abuse scandals in towns and cities across the country, and by revelations celebrities and politicians were involved in widespread abuse.
But groups representing victims and lawmakers who have taken up their cause say even more explosive allegations - many believed to have been in the missing dossier - may emerge, incriminating figures from the highest echelons of society.
Victims fear the government has no intention of getting to the truth.
“I believe it’s absolutely massive,” Peter Saunders, who founded the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) in 1995, told Reuters.
“Perpetrators are still protected at the highest levels and I think it’s disgusting. It goes right to the top. It’s just a sordid, sordid issue that everyone has tried to keep under the carpet because it’s too big.”
The issue became a major national scandal in 2012 when police revealed that the late BBC TV presenter Jimmy Savile had been one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders. Other high-profile figures have since been convicted, while horrific cases of organized abuse have come to light.
But it is allegations of pedophile rings involving politicians, officials and others from Britain’s elite systematically abusing children that raise the greatest concern.
“There is no doubt in my mind that there was effectively a Westminster pedophile network that involved politicians and other people,” lawmaker Simon Danczuk told Reuters.
In August 1983, a lawmaker who has since died said he had a dossier implicating senior public figures in child abuse which he passed to then Home Secretary (interior minister) Leon Brittan. Brittan has said he dealt with the material correctly and passed it on to officials to examine.
The Home Office’s top civil servant disclosed in July that 114 files handed over had gone missing.
Home Secretary Theresa May ordered a review.
Peter Wanless, head of the NSPCC children’s charity who led the investigation, said: “We found nothing specific to support a concern that the Home Office had failed in any organized or deliberate way to identify and refer individual allegations of child abuse to the police.”
Writing by Michael Holden; editing by Ralph Boulton