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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Allegations of child sexual abuse linked to Westminster Investigation Report


D.1: Introduction

1. In considering the way in which the police as an institution has responded to allegations of child sexual abuse made against persons of public prominence, the Inquiry has explored a number of related questions.

  • Was there a culture of deference or general reluctance amongst police when it came to investigating sexual allegations against persons of public prominence associated with Westminster?
  • Were police officers ‘warned off’ investigating cases of possible child sexual abuse committed by persons of public prominence?
  • Were allegations of child sexual abuse involving persons of public prominence associated with Westminster known about by police but inadequate action taken to investigate them?
  • Did police officers seek to protect persons of public prominence accused of child sexual abuse from being the subject of investigation or public scrutiny through the media?

2. We heard from witnesses including a senior official from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), senior officers from the Metropolitan Police and also a number of ‘whistleblower’ retired police officers. Much of the evidence related to historic events in the 1970s and 1980s, although we did hear about modern practices by way of comparison. Many of the cases that we considered have been debated in the media and raise clear matters of public concern.

3. The Inquiry’s Terms of Reference require us to take into account information available from published and unpublished reviews and investigations. That requirement was of particular significance to this part of the investigation. There have been 37 relevant IOPC-managed investigations of police misconduct, summarised in an overarching IOPC report,[1] and a further 17 Metropolitan Police local investigations, summarised in the witness statement of Commander Catherine Roper.[2] We heard detailed oral evidence from Mr Christopher Mahaffey of the IOPC[3] and also from Commander Roper[4] about the way in which these investigations were instituted and conducted, which are also fully addressed in the report and the witness statement.

4. As set out in Part A of this report, the purpose of the Inquiry’s work – and also that of the IOPC and Metropolitan Police investigations – has been to investigate possible failings in the way in which the police have responded to allegations of child sexual abuse. It is a necessary part of any investigation into the police response to refer to and in some cases to analyse the underlying allegations of child sexual abuse. However, it is not part of our function – any more than it was for the IOPC or the Metropolitan Police investigations – to reach conclusions as to whether or not the underlying allegations of abuse, which are allegations of criminal conduct, were or were not well founded. In naming any person about whom an allegation has been made, the Inquiry is making no suggestion that the allegation is true or that the person committed the alleged act. Section 2(1) of the Inquiries Act 2005 prevents the Inquiry from ruling on any person’s civil or criminal liability.

5. The Inquiry has treated the IOPC and Metropolitan Police investigations as a starting point for our own work. It would have been disproportionate for us to reinvestigate all these matters. For many of the cases we did not call any further evidence ourselves, and we therefore simply record the IOPC and Metropolitan Police findings. For those cases in which we did call further evidence, we have been able to make our own findings to add to those of the IOPC and Metropolitan Police. In places we have been critical of their conclusions or have indicated that we think there is more work for them to do. It is not our role to mount a general investigation into the way in which the IOPC and the Metropolitan Police have conducted their work and we do not make any recommendations in this regard.

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