A public inquiry is set to examine whether political parties “turned a blind eye” to allegations of child sexual abuse in Westminster.
The latest strand of the wide-ranging Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse – which was set up in 2015 in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal – will look into whether there were attempts to cover up child abuse claims against prominent politicians.
The probe will consider how the Liberal Party – now the Liberal Democrats – dealt with allegations against the late MP Cyril Smith and how the Conservative Party and other Westminster institutions handled claims against Tory MP Peter Morrison, who died in 1995.
The case of Green Party member David Challenor will also be studied. The inquiry heard how Challenor was jailed for 22 years in 2018 after being convicted for sexual assault against a 10-year-old girl.
He was allowed to remain an active member of the party while awaiting trial, the hearing was told.
The operation of the whips’ offices in parliament, and the existence of so-called “dirt books” containing “scandal” about MPs, will also be examined, as will the the honours system. It follows concerns about honours being granted to people accused of abuse before or after their nominations.
The inquiry has stressed that allegations against people accused of wrongdoing during the hearing are not necessarily true.
But critics have called the probe a “witch hunt against dead politicians”.
Daniel Janner, son of the late Labour peer Lord Janner – who died in 2015 after being ruled unfit to stand trial over historical child sexual abuse allegations – said the inquiry would “unjustly trash their reputations”, saying the claims were based on “tittle tattle, false rumours and dodgy dossiers”.
“They cannot answer back from the grave,” he said.
Allegations involving Lord Janner will be dealt with in a separate strand of the inquiry.
However, the hearing was told on Monday that the inquiry would not consider allegations made by Carl Beech, who had been known as “Nick”, claiming there was a Westminster paedophile ring operating in Dolphin Square.
Beech has since been charged with perverting the course of justice and fraud.