National inquiry into abuse urged

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The MP David Alton yesterday called for a national inquiry into abuse in children's homes following the launch of a third big police inquiry.

Police in Merseyside have joined officials in Cheshire and north Wales in investigating abuse in children's homes, with smaller inquires under way elsewhere. All relate to allegations of widespread abuse in the Seventies and Eighties.

Mr Alton, Liberal Democrat member for Mossley Hill in Liverpool, who will chair a meeting between MPs and the families of abused children next week, said the calls for a full inquiry were becoming irresistible. "I think that the case which has been argued for wider royal commission or judicial inquiry is a good one," he said. "I cannot think of an issue which cries out more for a through judicial inquiry than this.

"It seems to be the case that children's homes can act like a honey pot for people with a particular disposition and the networking thing seems secondary to that. Clearly there needs to be a rigour that you don't have to have in any other occupation and that seems to have been what has been missing."

Parents of abuse victims in the North-west have invited 40 MPs to a meeting in the Commons next week to hear their case for a royal commission.