Police watchdog examines new political sex abuse cover-up claims


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New Scotland Yard police headquarters is seen in London

An investigation has been ordered into more than a dozen new claims that officers covered up or shut down child sex inquiries or prosecutions between 1970 and 2000 because they involved MPs, public officials or lawmakers.

Since 2012 when it was revealed the late BBC TV presenter Jimmy Savile was a prolific sex offender, there has been a flood of speculation and accusations that powerful figures including senior politicians were involved in paedophile rings and were protected by high-ranking police officers.

In May, an officer leading a nationwide investigation into historical child sex abuse said more than 1,400 people had been named as suspects including 261 "people of public prominence".

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it would look into 13 claims, mostly made by former London Metropolitan Police (Met) officers, that evidence had been suppressed, investigations hindered or halted or offences covered up because they involved Members of Parliament (MPs) or police officers.

One allegation is that a lawmaker was arrested by detectives investigating a paedophile ring in the 1980s but released without charge on orders from senior officers.

Another says paperwork and evidence relating to child sex crimes involving a lawmaker disappeared, leading to the parliamentarian's release.

"We are continuing to receive further referrals from the Met and have now assessed that a further 12 require management by the IPCC in addition to one from Essex Police," said IPCC Commissioner Jennifer Izekor.

In March, the IPCC said it was examining 17 allegations of cover-ups, which involved MPs, judges, media figures, actors and clergy.

Last month, several police forces said they were examining allegations of abuse made against the late Edward Heath, prime minister between 1970 and 1974, the most high-profile figure to have been linked to the scandal.

The Metropolitan Police is itself investigating allegations of sex crimes involving powerful establishment figures from the 1970s and 1980s, including claims that three young boys had been murdered.

The government has ordered a major public inquiry into child abuse and whether powerful figures covered it up, an undertaking expected to take five years to complete.

However, critics and some of the well-known figures whose names have arisen in the multitude of ongoing police inquiries have said many of those accused are victims of a witch hunt, unfounded rumour or the claims of fantasists.

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