Child abuse inquiry: 'The Government might not want to get to the truth,' says Labour MP

Simon Danczuk said people are starting to suspect 'deliberate mistakes'

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A Labour MP has said that continuing chaos surrounding the Westminster child abuse inquiry makes it look as though the Government does not “want to get to the truth”.

Simon Danczuk said victims would be dismayed at the lack of progress in the probe, and could not help worrying that the litany of mistakes was “deliberate”.

The Home Secretary has indicated that the troubled inquiry panel may be disbanded and replaced after calls from victims' families to give it more powers, potentially causing further delay.

Fiona Woolf and Baroness Butler-Sloss have both stepped down from the role of inquiry chairman and a replacement has not yet been appointed.

Home Secretary Theresa May makes a statement on the inquiry into historical child sexual abuse in the House of Commons

A new chairman could request statutory powers for the inquiry, or anew panel could be formed under statutory terms. A third option of a Royal Commission, which would not have the powers of a statutory inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act, would be “legally more risky”.

In a letter to the panel members, reported by investigative website Exaro News, Mrs May said: “I am currently considering these options and I appreciate this has implications for members of the panel.”

Over the weekend, it also emerged that Labour MP John Mann had handed Scotland Yard a dossier including allegations about the involvement of 22 politicians - some of them still serving - in paedophile rings.

More than a dozen former ministers, 14 Conservatives, five Labour politicians and three from other parties were reportedly on the list.

Two whistle-blowers who had information about MPs' involvement in the paedophile ring could have been murdered, Mr Mann told Sky News - a former Lambeth council official named Bulick Forsythe and an unnamed caretaker who allegedly had tapes of "sex parties".

Mr Mann is calling for their "suspicious" deaths to be re-investigated.

Mr Danczuk told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme the situation was a “mess” and people would turn to "direct action" in the absence of satisfaction with Government processes.

“What I suspect will happen, because we are not getting any satisfaction from Government, because we are not moving forward and it has been six months now - documents going missing, chairmen having to stand down and resign, the Wanless whitewash review into lost documents, terms of reference not being appropriate and now the panel being disbanded - I think that people will turn to more direct action and you can hardly blame them," he said.

Baroness Butler-Sloss has stepped down as chairman of a wide-ranging inquiry into child abuse claims

"What you do need is a mixture of people on that panel who have a whole variety of experiences. I think the Home Secretary had got it broadly right in terms of the people that she appointed.

“Where she got it badly wrong is in terms of the process, the consultation with key stakeholders in this case the survivors of child abuse.”

Mr Danczuk said he expected “more and bigger peaceful protests, more challenging of ministers, more challenging of the police to take action”.

“There is very little faith in Government in terms of delivering this," he added. "If Government are set on doing this then it can be achieved. But you can't help thinking that they are not intent on getting this right.

“There is a catalogue of mistakes that have been made, some of them fairly basic, and you can't blame the survivors of child abuse for wondering - because of the allegations of high-profile figures involved in the abuse - you can't help thinking that some of this is quite deliberate mistakes.

"They don't want to get to the truth, that would be the allegation."

Representatives of child abuse victims arrive at a meeting in London

Sharon Evans, a panel member from the child safety group Dot Com Children's Foundation, said she was "devastated" at the prospect of the independent inquiry being halted if the board is dissolved in the new year.

But Peter Saunders, of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said if the inquiry does not have confidence of abuse survivors, it will be “meaningless”.

“If indeed the decision has been made or is made to disband the panel as it is currently constituted, then I know that that would be supported by the vast majority of survivors or survivor organisations that we are in touch with,” he told Today.

“I have yet to encounter any survivors who have any faith in the process, or in the panel as it is currently constituted...there are one or two characters who sadly have association with the past that would make them inappropriate.”

Fiona Woolf stepped down amid accusations of an establishment cover-up

Tim Loughton, the former children's minister, said the inquiry would be needlessly set back by "yet more weeks and probably months".

"This panel is not perfect, but there are some very well-qualified, decent people on the panel," he added. "They have got on with their work."

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “The Home Secretary is determined that appalling cases of child sexual abuse should be exposed so that perpetrators face justice and the vulnerable are protected.

"She is absolutely committed to ensuring the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has the confidence of survivors.

“The Home Secretary is also clear that we have to balance the need to make progress with the need to get this right.”

Additional reporting by Press Association