On Tuesday David Cameron hosted a summit on Childhood Sexual Exploitation and he spoke about his wish to prosecute men and women within our public sector in a position to know about such abuse, who looked the other way or chose not to respond to abuse in a timely manner. My comments at the time were that it was concerning that his focus was on teachers, Police Officers, Social Workers and Youth Workers when the track record of No 10 Downing Street and Westminster itself are far from good when it comes to the disclosure of such abuse. If a new law is needed then by all means lets introduce it but we must not focus attention on one group of people in a way that shifts legitimate focus away from another group that have work to do and are themselves shrouded in secrecy and power systems. This weekend two news stories have emerged that demonstrate that this is a real issue.
Todays Sunday Times reveals that Margaret Thatcher did choose to look the other way when ennobling some of her friends and colleagues, even though there were clear indications at the time, provided to her by her advisers that these people were hiding disturbing secrets, information that today is fully in the public domain. It is clearly too late for Margaret Thatcher to explain her actions or be prosecuted for rewarding those who were abusers for their ‘good work’ in society. However our Prime Minister and Nick Clegg appear to be in the frame for putting barriers in the way of the release of these papers. A charge that Simon Danczuk is making in todays Mail on Sunday. The Cabinet Office apparently refused five requests from the Mail on Sunday to release these files which reveal that Margaret Thatcher was told of allegations about Smith. A second and entirely unconnected story has been published by SKY News revealing that there are 4 files which may disclose details of historical Childhood Sexual Abuse that have been identified by the Cabinet Office. These files were discovered a month ago, yet the Cabinet Office has still not handed these files to the Police, it has not made the contents public and so far it has not even disclosed the title of these 4 files. Action is needed now if David Camerons words from Tuesday are not to ring hollow when he said that the “culture of denial” that led to children in Rotherham and elsewhere being ignored, and issues being “swept under the carpet”, must be eradicated. “Today, I am sending an unequivocal message that professionals who fail to protect children will be held properly accountable and council bosses who preside over such catastrophic failure will not see rewards for that failure,” he said. “Offenders must no longer be able to use the system to hide their despicable activities and survivors of child sexual abuse must be given the long-term therapeutic treatment they need to rebuild their lives.” Cameron said he wants to ensure that professionals charged with protecting children – council staff, police officers and social workers – “do the jobs they are paid to do”. “We owe it to our children, and to the children who survive horrific sexual abuse, to do better and ensure the mistakes of the past are never repeated again,”
There can be no excuse for not sharing the documents currently in the possession of Francis Maude immediately with the Police and after the scrutiny of the last month by the Cabinet Office it must be possible to set out a clear timetable for these documents to be shared with any families who may be affected and potentially with the public. If there is no such action then David Cameron must explain why he believes that it is acceptable for there to be one rule for real public servants and another for those who choose to laud it over us!