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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Allegations of child sexual abuse linked to Westminster Investigation Report

Contents

F.1: Introduction

1. The function of the government whips is to ensure the government’s business proceeds through the Houses of Parliament with the support of MPs, who are ‘whipped’ to vote in support of the government. The Private Secretary to the government chief whip manages the business of the House of Commons and seeks to get the government’s business through the House. Opposition whips’ offices operate in a similar manner with respect to their own MPs.[1]

2. This part of the investigation responded to concern generated by comments made by a former Conservative Party whip, Trevor (known as Tim) Fortescue, who was MP for Liverpool Garston from 1966 to 1974. In a BBC interview for the programme ‘Westminster’s Secret Service’, aired in 1995, Mr Fortescue said this:

anyone with any sense, who was in trouble, would come to the whips and tell them the truth, and say, ‘Now, I’m in a jam, can you help?’ It might be debt, it might be … a scandal involving small boys, or any kind of scandal in which a member seemed likely to be mixed up in. They’d come and ask if we could help, and if we could, we did. And we would do everything we can because we would store up brownie points … and if I mean, that sounds a pretty, pretty nasty reason, but it’s one of the reasons because if we could get a chap out of trouble then, he will do as we ask forever more … [2]

This suggests not only that the whips were aware of scandal “involving small boys” but also that the whips would have helped the Member of Parliament concerned in order to “store up brownie points”, to the whips’ (and their respective political party’s) advantage.

3. We have considered whether the conduct Tim Fortescue described actually took place, either at that time or since, and whether the whips were aware of allegations of child sexual abuse by MPs and peers and used them to their advantage. In addition, we have examined whether this was part of a ‘cover-up’ of child sexual abuse in the 1980s as considered possible by Lord Tebbit, in the television interview on The Andrew Marr Show on 6 July 2014,[3] almost 20 years after Mr Fortescue’s comments.[4]

References

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