Friday, 24 October 2014

A draft proposal for a credible, definitive inquiry into UK child (sexual) abuse

The recent appointment of Fiona Woolf as Chair of a proposed "independent" inquiry into child abuse has occasioned much public comment.

It seems to me that there are deeper concerns than those specifically about Mrs. Woolf. Not least is that the currently proposed inquiry is incapable of definitively addressing the issues of concern to many survivors of child abuse.

Below is a lengthy draft proposal for what I hope would be a comprehensive, definitive genuinely public inquiry into child (sexual) abuse in the UK and related to the UK.

It would also explore the alleged cover-up of child abuse to protect the reputations of public bodies and/or powerful individuals.

The Terms of Reference which I suggest are much wider than those in the currently proposed Home Office inquiry which, to my mind, are so inadequate as to constitute an insult to the intelligence of the public, including survivors of child abuse.

Please feel free to comment on the proposals. I would ask that Comments are left here in relation to this post. You may also contact me on Twitter here: @DrAndrewWatt

Collating information on Twitter isn't easy so if you have serious comments to make please add them as one or more Comments to this post.

N.B. In the following document I make reference to allegations regarding a number of named individuals. These allegations are, to the best of my knowledge, uninvestigated so should not be taken to be substantiated.

I hope to send a final version of the proposal to the UK Government early next week. The current Home Office inquiry is grossly inadequate. Something better needs to replace it.

Towards a Credible Child Abuse Inquiry
Dr. Andrew Watt
DRAFT 24th October 2014

This document puts forward for consideration a proposed approach to conducting a credible, definitive public inquiry into child abuse in the United Kingdom and the cover-up of such child abuse.

My aim in putting forward this document for consideration is to design an investigate approach which maximises the capacity of a child abuse inquiry to disclose the truth about child abuse in (and related to) the United Kingdom and the sustained cover-up of such child abuse.
It raises many complex issues, some highly controversial.
I ask readers to have the patience to read the whole document in order to appreciate the facts as I understand them and my reasons for rejecting an approach through the Inquiries Act 2005 (as it currently stands).
What is the primary aim of a child abuse inquiry?
It seems to me that inadequate consideration has been given to the aims of a proposed child abuse inquiry.
A key question is whether the primary aim of a definitive inquiry into child abuse is to establish as much of the truth as circumstances (including the passage of time) allow or whether the primary aim is to punish (through the Court system) those who can be prosecuted.
It seems to me that these two aims (which are each laudable and desirable) are, unavoidably, in conflict.
My view is that it is more important to establish the truth.
In that context I propose a radical approach to this complex problem which adopts (in some ways) and modifies (in major ways) an approach similar to that of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.
Like apartheid in South Africa, child abuse in the United Kingdom has been pervasive.
Let me mention here that I do not assume that survivors will wish to be reconciled to their abusers. I hope that survivors will read this document in its entirety including the section headed Non-judicial punishment later in the document before rejecting the proposed approach.
The Theresa May approach
I have considered whether the approach currently proposed by the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, can provide a credible inquiry. I have concluded that it cannot.
Some reasons for rejecting Mrs. May’s use of the Inquiries Act 2005 are briefly listed here. It may be that further explanation of my reasoning is needed in some other context.
  1. An inquiry set up by the Home Office can, in my understanding, only examine issues relating to events in England and Wales. There are important allegations relating to child abuse in Northern Ireland, in Scotland, in Wales and in Jersey. A Home Office inquiry cannot, in my understanding, examine those issues.
  2. I have evidence that parts of the Home Office are currently acting with the effect of concealing at least one case of alleged child sexual offences (discussed in summary later in this document). I conclude that a Secretariat provided by the Home Office is wholly inappropriate.
  3. The current Terms of Reference are grossly inadequate and are premature. Without a scoping study to identify all the relevant allegations about child abuse and its cover-up any Terms of Reference including those recently announced are, in my view, lacking in credibility.
  4. Appointment of several Panel members seems to me to be unlawful given the requirements of s9 of the Inquiries Act 2005. It seems to me that the current inquiry cannot lawfully proceed.
  5. I believe that it is irrational to trust the Police to investigate the serious cases of child abuse. British Police forces in 2014, in my estimation, cannot be trusted to do so. See “Absence of any basis for trust” section for part of the basis for that statement.
On these, and other grounds, I conclude that the current approach based on the Inquiries Act 2005 as it currently stands cannot fulfil the aim of maximising disclosure of the extent of child abuse and its cover-up by inter alia public officials.
My own interpretation is that the current approach proposed by Mrs. May is designed to prevent a truly comprehensive inquiry into child abuse and its cover-up, that cover-up being intended falsely to preserve the reputation of powerful people.
Absence of any basis for trust
The Inquiries Act 2005 sets out an approach that assumes that appointment of “the great and the good” is an adequate approach and that such individuals are worthy of public trust.
Given that the suspicion is that at least some of “the great and the good” have been involved either in the perpetration of child abuse and/or its cover-up for inter alia political purposes, it is irrational to make an assumption that “the great and the good” can investigate its own.
I believe that an assumption that public officials are to be trusted is unsound.
Against the background of allegations including a cover-up by Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the intelligence services, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Home Office it is an insult to the intelligence of the citizen to proceed with an approach based on such a transparently false assumption that public officials are to be trusted.
The basis for doubting the integrity of public officials is not merely historical. It is current.
In my estimation there is credible contemporary evidence that multiple public bodies including the Police, the Mayor‘s Office for Policing and Crime, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Home Office and the judiciary are participant in a process of concealment. It is my view that such concealment amounts in at least some cases to misconduct in public office and/or perversion of the course of justice.
I will give a summary of one example case here.
I have, for example, evidence indicating that the Home Office, in the person of Chris Blairs, is blocking adequate investigation into a case of (alleged) child sexual offences where there is alleged misconduct by officers in the Metropolitan Police Service and alleged misconduct in the highest echelons of the Independent Police Complaints Commission. 
The initial events in the case to which I refer relate inter alia to what I consider to be sustained perversion of the course of justice by a number of Metropolitan Police officers and/or staff. This was, in my estimation, followed by perversion of the course of justice by the Professional Standards Department of the Metropolitan Police.
The Police misconduct was covered up, in my estimation, by Deborah Glass then Deputy Chair of the IPCC. Ms. Glass’s (alleged) misconduct has subsequently been covered up by Dame Anne Owers, current Chair of the IPCC.
Mr. Blairs, of the Home Office, then blocked any independent investigation of Dame Anne Owers perceived misconduct.
Some of the background is expressed in these two blog posts:
  1. My formal complaint about Deborah Glass is here
  2. My formal complaint about Dame Anne Owers is here
Subsequent to making those formal complaints about Deborah Glass and Dame Anne Owers I discovered that what I term a “corrupt relationship” existed between Deborah Glass of the IPCC and the Professional Standards Department of the Metropoltan Police Service, in that Ms. Glass was investigating the Metropolitan Police (regarding Plebgate and other matters) at the same time as the Met was investigating Ms. Glass for alleged perversion of the course of justice.
The opportunity for Ms. Glass and the Metropolitan Police Service to act corruptly to their mutual benefit is obvious.
In my estimation both Ms. Glass and Commander Allan Gibson (head of the Professional Standards Department of the Metropolitan Police Service) did act corruptly. I state that as my opinion and do not present here the detailed evidence which leads me to that cnclusion.
The IPCC, so I understand, provided public funds to suppress publication of such serious concerns about Ms. Glass’s conduct. I am told that two newspapers were threatened with legal action and/or were served injunctions to block publication of information relating to what I term the “corrupt relationship”.
The “corrupt relationship” impacts, in my estimation, not only the case of alleged child sexual offences but also adversely affected the integrity of the IPCC consideration of alleged Police misconduct the following high profile cases:
  1. Plebgate
  2. The suspicious death of Dr. David Kelly
  3. The Hillsborough Disaster
Senior officials in the Crown Prosecution Service, specifically Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders and Mr. Malcolm MacHaffie, were made aware of the “corrupt relationship” which clearly, in my view, compromised the CPS announcement of 26th November 2013 regarding Plebgate and the CPS has refused to act to disclose and/or investigate the “corrupt relationship”.
These matters were formally reported in June 2014 to the National Crime Agency (in the person of Keith Bristow) and to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (in the person of Stephen Otter). Each acknowledged receipt of the relevant information and indicated an intention to investigate.
At present any investigation appears to have been kicked into the long grass by Mr. Bristow and Mr. Otter.
I have, within the limits of my understanding of the system, sought to report suspected misconduct and/or suspected criminal actions to the appropriate public official and/or public body.
At every stage there has been a failure by the relevant public bodies properly to investigate.
The effect of such failures by the Police, the IPCC, the Home Office, the Crown Prosecution Service, the National Crime Agency and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary is, in my estimation, to prevent proper investigation of allegations of child sexual offences and/or to conceal failures and criminal acts by other public officials.
I conclude that the Police and supervisory bodies are, in 2014, endemically corrupt and visibly cannot be trusted to investigate child abuse cases.
Further, within the last few weeks, it is my understanding that two judges have acted with the effect of suppressing public awareness of this complex and serious case. In my view those two judges (who I don’t presently name) have, in 2014, acted so as to pervert the course of justice with respect to a case whose core event is corrupt behaviour by Metropolitan Police officers with respect to alleged child sexual offences.
This case, in my mind, serves to illustrate that there is almost no limit to the efforts that public bodies, including the Police, will go to suppress disclosure of their own misconduct when it relates to child sexual offences.
It therefore seems to me that in 2013/2014 there are good grounds to conclude that the Metropolitan Police Service (including at the highest levels), the Independent Police Complaints Commission (including at the highest levels), the Crown Prosecution Service (including at the highest levels) and the Home Office cannot be trusted to act honestly and transparently with respect to allegations of child sexual offences.
I conclude that making an assumption that trust is merited by “the great and the good” has no sound basis and that such an approach must be rejected for any credible, comprehensive child abuse inquiry.
Concerns re Home Affairs Select Committee
The Home Affairs Select Committee has, in some sense, the senior supervisory role for Home Office, Police and IPCC failures and misconduct.
It seems to me that HASC is failing in its supervisory role.
Two issues give me particular cause for concern.
First, in 1991 Keith Vaz sought to change the Law in order to suppress disclosure of child abuse allegations in open Court. He did not succeed. But his instinct to cover-up for MP colleagues raises concerns in my mind. Mr. Vaz, in my view, should make a public statement on this aspect of his past conduct and may wish to consider his position as Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee.
Second, in June 2014 I sent to the Home Affairs Select Committee a bundle of documents laying out suspected misconduct and/or criminal actions with respect to the child sexual offences case mentioned in the previous section of this document. I did so in the context of an active HASC Inquiry into the Metropolitan Police Service.
Following receipt of the information alleging criminal misconduct by the Metropolitan Police Service and by the Independent Police Complaints Commission the inquiry was, without public explanation, terminated and no Report was published by HASC.
The effect of the HASC (in)action is to conceal a case of alleged child sexual offences where there is evidence of serious misconduct by the Police and Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Elephants in the Room
I mention elsewhere the need for a scoping study. I do so, in part, because serious allegations exist that are being ignored, except in social media.
I list here some allegations that, so far as I’m aware, are being ignored by the mainstream media and, at least in public, by the Home Office and the Home Affairs Select Committee.
The allegations exist. To some the allegations may border on the ludicrous but it seems to me that if any child abuse inquiry is to be definitive it cannot ignore these allegations.
In no particular order I mention a few of the “elephants in the room”:
  1. It is alleged that Leon Brittan was an attendee at the Elm Guest House. The possibility exists that Lord Brittan was a paedophile. It seems to me that this allegation must be thoroughly investigated since it may shed light on the alleged presence of the Paedophile Information Exchange in the Home Office and may recast the significance of the disappearence of the so-called “Dickens Dossier” in the Home Office.
  2. Members of the Thatcher Government, including Peter Morrison and Nicholas Fairbairn, are alleged to have been child abusers. Did the Thatcher Government, by failure to act or by active intervention, conceal paedophile activity in the Thatcher Government?
  3. There are persistent allegations what Edward Heath used his position and his yacht to conduct paedophile activities over an extended period. Included in those allegations are suggestions of paedophile activity by Mr. Heath in Jersey.
  4. There are persistent allegations that a minister in what I assume to be the Blair Government was/is a paedophile.
  5. There are persistent allegations that Lord Mountbatten was a paedophile. Some of those allegations, so I understand, relate to the Kincora Home.
  6. There are allegations with respect to the Prince of Wales, in part relating to the mentorship of Lord Mountbatten and in part to the Prince of Wales’s relationships with known paedophiles and/or their protectors.
  7. There are allegations that the intelligence services were involved in the concealment of child abuse at Kincora, and possibly elsewhere.
  8. There are allegations that a retired Law Lord was an abuser at Kincora.
  9. There are persistent allegations about the existence of “snuff movies” – films or videos in which children are killed for the sexual pleasure of participants and/or the viewers of those films. The allegations include suggestions that UK residents may have gone to the near Continent to make such movies.
The foregoing allegations have not, to the best of my knowledge, been investigated.
Therefore there is, in my estimation, no rational basis for excluding the possibility that some or all of those allegations may have a sound foundation.
My view is that each of these allegations is among those which must be investigated by a comprehensive child abuse inquiry.
Allegations for which there is a credible basis must, by proper investigation, be distinguished from those which are contrary to the evidence.
I can see no basis to conclude that any member (or group) of the “great and the good” can be trusted fully to investigate such issues. The opportunities for cover-up whether by instinct, coercion and/or inducement are evident.
A proposed methodology
In this section I set out a proposed methodology to maximise the identification of past child abuse and the concealment by politicians and by public officials and public bodies of such child abuse.
I reject Theresa May’s “maximum transparency” approach since it seems to me to be visibly deceitful. For example, the identity of the “investigator” re missing Home Office files remains concealed. This precludes any assessment of the possible personal or organisational biases of that investigator.
I propose a “total transparency” approach.
I start from the conclusion that “the great and the good” cannot safely be trusted to investigate without “total transparency” of process and evidence.
I further propose a “Public Panel” approach.
The members of the public who participate in the investigation of the documents are the “Public Panel”.
A summary draft process is described here:
  1. Following a scoping study (which would include identification of any other “Elephants in the Room” which may exist) a list of bodies can be drawn up from which all relevant documents can be requested. All parts of the scoping study must be conducted in public with video and written records of all meetings placed on the Inquiry Web site.
  2. A list of allegations would be compiled. Compiling this list can be done by the Inquiry Panel and by participant members of the public (the “Public Panel”).
  3. The Inquiry would then request (with statutory powers) from all relevant public bodies (and other organisations?) all documents relevant to the allegations identified in the scoping study.
  4. All such documents obtained would be put into the public domain, unredacted, via a dedicated Inquiry web site.
  5. Any failure of cooperation by any body would be publicly disclosed.
  6. It is essential that all documents obtained are put on the Internet in a searchable form, such as was done in the Hutton Inquiry. Failure to do so would seriously impede investigation, whether by the Inquiry Panel or the Public Panel.
  7. The Public Panel has a mechanism (to be defined) to flag up to the Inquiry concerns observed within the publicly disclosed documents. The members of the public who participate in the investigation of the documents are the “Public Panel”.
  8. An Inquiry Panel considers all flagged up connections. All such consideration must be in public with video recordings and written minutes placed on the Inquiry web site. Such a comprehensive public record of all meetings and actions of the Inquiry Panel would minimise the scope for concealment of allegations.
  9. A list of witnesses to be called before the Inquiry is to be compiled. Both the Public Panel and the Inquiry Panel would participate in the creation of the list. Consideration should be given to taking anonymous evidence from survivors.
  10. Evidence is taken in public (with suitable video recordings and transcripts placed on the Inquiry Web site).
  11. A process of Assessment would take place (in public) by the Public Panel and by the Inquiry Panel.
  12. If necessary, further requests for documents and/or further evidence sessions could be undertaken.
  13. The Inquiry Panel would produce a draft Report which, for each flagged up concern, presents its assessment of the evidence.
  14. The Public Panel would have opportunity to identify perceived weaknesses in the Draft Report.
  15. The Inquiry Panel would produce a Final Report.
Without “total transparency” residual suspicions of cover-up will remain.
The use of the “Public Panel” would make use of the expertise of active participants in social media whose ability to identify issues has, in my estimation, far exceeded that of the Home Office in identifying relevant issues.
Changes in the Law needed?
The approach proposed is likely to require changes in the Law.
The following issues come to mind:
  1. To allow survivors to participate in the Inquiry Panel s9 of the Inquiries Act 2005 must be amended
  2. To allow public disclosure of unredacted documents it may be necessary to amend the Data Protection Act.
  3. To allow public disclosure of documents held by, for example, the intelligence services further changes in the Law may be required.
  4. Perhaps a limitation or ban on use of evidence in future Court proceedings should be considered.
  5. Perhaps some legislative requirement may be imposed on the media, for example to require by Law a statement that allegations are no more than allegations. They are not ipso facto evidence of criminal actions nor of misconduct.
I suggest such legislative changes in order to allow “total transparency” while, so far as is possible, protecting individuals from unwarranted conclusions of guilt.
Time Period of Interest
What time period should a comprehensive child abuse inquiry cover?
It seems to me that the time period of interest must go back at least as far as 1970, given the persisting allegations about the conduct of the late former Prime Minister, Edward Heath.
It can cogently be argued that issues going back to the 1950s should also be included given, for example, allegations regarding “Uncle Mac” a BBC employee whose conduct, it is alleged, was covered up by senior management of the BBC including former Directors General.
It seems to me that the allegations relating to Lord Mountbatten similarly require a start date of or around 1950.
Suggested Terms of Reference
I suggest the following as an outline Terms of Reference
  1. To identify from documents held by public and other bodies (including the Police) the extent of child abuse and/or its cover-up in the period 1950 to 2014 in the UK and by UK citizens and/or residents.
  2. To invite the submission from the Public of evidence of child abuse and/or its cover-up. The scope of investigation of the cover-up to include the Police, the IPCC (and possibly its predecessory bodies), the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (and its parallel and predecessor bodies), the Crown Prosecution Service, the Director of Public Prosecutions (including prior to the creation of the CPS), the Attorney General (for example the actions of Sir Michael Havers with respect to Kincora) and the judiciary (including Coroners).
  3. To take evidence from all individuals identified as likely having relevant information with respect to such child abuse or its cover-up.
  4. To publicly disclose all evidence received by the Inquiry.
  5. To produce a Report of allegations notified to the Inquiry with findings of fact as assessed by the Inquiry Panel, after a process of comment by the Public Panel.
The aim of any final Terms of Reference (the above is my rough draft) would be to ensure “total transparency” at all stages of the process.
Non-judicial punishment
It is for those with more legal training than I to arrive at a view as to whether the proposed approach entirely precludes prosecution in Court. In this section I assume “the worst” – that the suggested approach does preclude prosecution.
If it is the case that Cout proceedings would be precluded this, I think, would raise serious concerns among survivors of child abuse. Very possibly survivors may be angry at me for suggesting the approach described in this document. It is open to survivors to suggest a better approach, should they consider that one exists.
If it is the case that offenders cannot be prosecuted then other non-judicial punishments would exist.
If, hypothetically, the allegations that Lord Brittan or Lord Janner were paedophiles were deemed incapable of fair examination in Court the evidence (of any hypothetical guilt) would be in the public domain.
Shame is a powerful punishment for the guilty.
It is important, in my view, that the innocent should not be unfairly attacked. I recognise that a “total transparency” approach risks tarnishing of the reputation of the innocent.
The greater need, in my view, is to expose the guilty and those who covered up for their child abuse. However, at all times, it seems to me that fairness requires great care in consideration of the disclosed evidence in a balanced way.
It seems to me that any Report would better have three outcome measures … perhaps “convincing”, “indeterminate” and “unconvincing” … with respect to findings of fact.
The passage of time may, unfortunately, mean that more than a few allegations will be assigned to the “indeterminate” category by the Inquiry Panel. I see no practicable way of avoiding such an outcome.
Comments are invited
This document sets out a draft proposed methodology for a comprehensive and (so far as it’s possible given the passage of time) a definitive investigation of child abuse and its cover-up.
In my view “total transparency” is the primary aim. Some may have other views.
Similarly, comments, suggestions and criticisms to refine or improve the suggestions I make in this draft would be welcome.
Errors may exist in this draft. Comments on any perceived errors are also invited.
Dr Andrew Watt
24th October 2014


  1. You have failed to mention the Duke of Edinburgh, who I met as a girl guide, who was very active in Lord Mountbatten`s circle.

  2. I would favour a Hillsborough style inquiry, which was brought in as the other inquiries had failed to get to the truth. It would not need a change in laws. If they are having difficulty then is the time to look at changing laws. Yes documents must all be made available. Also the inquiry must be excluded from being an inquiry uunder FOIAct 2000, otherwise no documents on child sexual abuse will be published under FOI as they will claim inquiry exemption. links to charities are also links to funders and honours, as most of panel have a form of grooming people into the establishment.

  3. The inclusion of Jersey, which is a Crown Dependency and not part of the UK, could be problematic. It might be necessary, at the level of the monarchy itself, to ensure the full cooperation of the Jersey authorities with any UK inquiry.

    The inquiry has to be able to compel the attendance of persons and the production of documents, so I agree it must be statutory.

    Your argument for not trusting the great and the good to investigate themselves is compelling. The Home Secretary's first two nominations for chair of the currently proposed inquiry show that either this is not understood, or that we are witnessing an attempt to limit any such inquiry and subsequently lay the ground for discrediting any unpalatable conclusions should they be arrived at by accident.