A former social services official has said that his warnings about the threat of child sex abuse from powerful public figures were ignored because there were “too many of them” in Whitehall.
David Tombs, who ran Hereford and Worcester social services for 20 years, said that following the arrest of former consultant to the National Children’s Bureau and convicted paedophile Peter Righton, he had told the Department of Health that he believed a paedophilic network had been in operation in Whitehall, but said these warnings had been ignored.
Righton, who died in 2007, was a social work expert and the founder of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), before he was convicted of importing child pornography in 1992.
Speaking to Radio Four’s Today programme, Tombs’ said that after Righton was arrested he had contacted representatives from the Department of Health to alert them about a potential network of paedophiles in Whitehall but was told by civil servants that he was "probably wasting his time" because there were "too many of them over there".
When asked what he thought was meant by the word "them", Tombs said "those within Parliament and Government in Whitehall".
Tim Yeo, MP for South Suffolk, who was a junior health minister during the early nineties, has refuted Tombs’ claims saying that he was “not aware” of a culture of sex abuse and that he found the claims “incredible".
He also questioned Tombs’ decision not to take his concerns further at the time.
The comments by Tombs come just a few days after former detective Terry Shutt claimed that material discovered by police after the arrest of Righton that implicated other establishment figures had been covered up.
Speaking to the BBC, Shutt said that five suitcases of letters found in Righton’s home had material that hinted a wider network of “upwards of 20” prominent child abusers.
However, Yeo has said these new claims were “staggering”.
He told the Today programme: "I think it's incredible, the idea that any remotely credible evidence had been shown to a civil servant at the Department of Health would have been ignored and received the comment that it apparently was.
"There was no culture of child sex abuse that I was aware of either in Whitehall or in Parliament," adding, "the whole thing is extraordinary."
This week Home Secretary Theresa May launched two inquiries into historic child sex abuse accusations.
One of the inquiries will look into allegations of abuse against prominent public figures in the 1980s, while the other one will investigate how public bodies have handled child sex abuse claims.
Speaking after announcing that the two inquiries would be launched, May said: “Wherever institutions and individuals have failed to protect ¬children from harm we will expose those failures.”