The judge appointed to lead the Government’s inquiry into allegations of an establishment paedophile ring is under growing pressure to stand down after it emerged that her brother had been implicated in the events she is due to investigate.
Baroness Butler-Sloss said she knew “absolutely nothing about” allegations that her late brother, the former Attorney General, Sir Michael Havers, had been passed a copy of a dossier naming suspected Westminster paedophiles but failed to act on the information which later went missing.
Sir Michael also backed the decision not to prosecute the diplomat Sir Peter Hayman for exchanging obscene material with members of the Paedophile Information Exchange. He also attempted to prevent the Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens naming Sir Peter in the House of Commons.
But while Downing Street stood by the appointment, a growing number of MPs expressed their concern about her involvement – especially given that her inquiry is expected to focus on events which took place at her time when her brother had responsibility for prosecutions.
The Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who led the campaign for an inquiry said: “We want somebody in the chair that exudes confidence and that’s not the case.
“She is part of the establishment and that raises concerns, and the relationship in terms of her brother, I think, is too close for comfort. I think that’s the conclusion most people will reach.
“I think the Government should think again in terms of who they have appointed for this position.”
The Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston, who chairs the Commons Health Select Committee, said she did not doubt the peer’s integrity but it was “hard to see why Baroness Butler-Sloss would want to accept a role so many regard as conflicted at the outset”.
The Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz expressed surprise at the selection while the shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry pointed out that Sir Michael had been one of those people to receive the paedophile dossier complied by the MP Geoffrey Dickens which has gone missing.
She said: “Geoffrey Dickens gave two dossiers – he gave one to the Home Office and gave the other one to the Director of Public Prosecutions – and the DPP copy has also gone missing. At the time the DPP was answerable to the Attorney General. I don’t question this admirable extraordinary woman’s integrity... But I’m surprised the Home Office didn’t look at this, because I think they have put her in a very difficult position.”
The Home Office said Lady Butler-Sloss’s integrity was “beyond reproach” and it stood “unreservedly” by her appointment. A Downing Street spokesman also backed the former High Court Judge.
Lady Butler-Sloss herself said she knew absolutely nothing about the events of the time. “If people think I am not suitable, then that’s up to them,” she said.
In a sign of the Government’s commitment to addressing current allegations of past cover-ups of paedophilia, David Cameron indicated he is ready to change the law to make it an offence not to report child abuse.
The Prime Minister said the reviews into paedophilia allegations would look into the possibility of introducing new offences.
The NSPCC’s chief executive Peter Wanless, who is leading a review into the Home Office’s handling of abuse claims, earlier announced the charity wanted tougher laws that would oblige people to report offences.
Meanwhile, fresh claims have been made that taxpayers’ money was used to fund a notorious group that campaigned to legalise sex with children, with a whistleblower claiming the payments were made at the request of the Metropolitan Police’s Special Branch.
Former civil servant Tim Hulbert said he raised concerns about the grant to the Paedophile Information Exchange (Pie) with his manager because it seemed “crazy”. Mr Hulbert, who worked at the Home Office unit charged with allocating money to voluntary groups, told ITV he become aware of the grant to Pie during the first year of the Thatcher administration.
Speaking publicly for the first time he said he raised the issue with his superior at the Voluntary Services Unit (VSU): “I have a very clear recollection, not of who tipped me off, but of being sufficiently aware of it to go to my then boss, the head of the unit Clifford Hindley and to say ‘look Clifford what the hell are we doing funding an organisation like PIE?’”
He claimed his boss told him that the money was going to a “legitimate” organisation and that the funding was “at the request of Special Branch”.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “The Metropolitan Police Service will fully co-operate… and provide detail of relevant information. Whilst this is ongoing it would be inappropriate to comment further.”