A SENIOR Conservative politician has been accused by the BBC’s current affairs programme Newsnight of abusing under-age boys at a children’s home in north Wales.
The unnamed politician was said to have taken part in the rape and abuse of young boys from the homes, as part of a paedophile ring operating in Wales during the 1970s and 1980s.
One of the men who was sexually abused while he was a child in care has now called for a new investigation into the true scale of the abuse and who was involved.
Steve Messham was one of hundreds of children whose claims of abuse were later examined by the Waterhouse Inquiry Report in the north Wales care home scandal, published in 2000.
He told BBC Newsnight the inquiry uncovered just a fraction of the abuse. He and another victim also told the BBC a leading Thatcher-era Conservative politician took part in the abuse.
But there was criticism of Newsnight’s handling of the latest revelations, after Iain Overton, one of the contributors to its investigation, Tweeted earlier yesterday that the programme would expose “a very senior political figure who is a paedophile”.
That set off a frenzy of unsubstantiated speculation on social networking sites, with several politicians being named as the likely suspect. Newsnight did not name the politician in its broadcast on Friday night.
Mr Messham told Newsnight: “In the home it was the standard abuse which was violent and sexual. Outside it was like you were sold, we were taken to the Crest Hotel in Wrexham, mainly on Sunday nights, where they would rent rooms.
“One particular night that I always recall is when I was basically raped, tied down, and abused by nine different men.”
He added: “You were taken by car, where basically you were sexually abused. Various things would happen, drink would be involved, it was basically rape. But it wasn’t just him, there be other people involved as well”.
When asked how many times he was abused by the politician Mr Messham said: “Off my head I couldn’t give an exact number as it goes back many years but certainly more than a dozen.”
The politician at the centre of accusations has denied the claims and said he is prepared to sue the BBC for libel.
He told The Telegraph the allegations were “totally untrue”, saying: “The BBC ain’t what it used to be.
"I’ve never been to this children’s home. The fact is that if they publish anything about me they will get a writ in the morning, I wouldn’t wait two minutes.”
Since the Jimmy Savile sex abuse allegations surfaced, politicians have been raising questions about other historic abuse cases.
For over 20 years almost 40 children’s homes in north Wales were the scene of horrific child abuse in which youngsters were raped and abused by those paid to look after them.
Allegations of the abuse started to surface in the mid 1990s and in March 1994 Clwyd County Council commissioned an independent inquiry into claims of widespread abuse across north Wales.
However, the inquiry’s report was never published and the copies were pulped to ensure that the local authority was able to maintain its insurance cover.
Amid growing public pressure the Secretary of State for Wales at the time, William Hague, ordered an inquiry into allegations of hundreds of cases of child abuse in care homes in former county council areas of Clwyd and Gwynedd between 1974 and 1990.
The tribunal, led by Sir Ronald Waterhouse, heard evidence from more than 650 people who had been in care from 1974 and took almost three years to publish its report.
In his Newsnight interview Mr Messham also said that he had gone to the police in the late 1970s to report the abuse, but that he was not believed.
“I was called a liar," he said. "I was pinned up against a wall. I could still name to this day the police officer who had done it.”
“The police denied it and when they looked back, they finally admitted in the inquiry [that] statements were made. That’s all they would say. They wouldn’t say who was named in them. But they did admit I did make a statement of sexual abuse.”
Mr Messham also insisted that his statements to the police included allegations of sexual abuse against the politician.
Another victim had told Newsnight in 2000 that he was abused by the politician while he was at a children’s home.
The man, who wanted to remain anonymous, told reporter Angus Stickler: “We went out for something to eat and he pulled over in a lay-by and then, hey presto, oral sex took place.”
He said that in the early 1990s, he went to North Wales Police to report the abuse, showing them faxed photographs of the senior Tory politician. However, he said that the two police officers he showed the photograph to dismissed his claims, saying that since the pictures were faxed they were not sufficiently reliable evidence and no further action was taken.
The Waterhouse inquiry, which cost £12m to stage, promised to leave no stone unturned in its endeavour to uncover abuse.
However, there have been complaints that the terms of reference were too narrow, restricting investigations to abuse taking place within the care system, not beyond it.
“I don’t understand why on Earth we had an inquiry when we had to leave out 30% of the abusers,” Mr Messham said in his latest interview.
“And basically I was told to do that. I was told I couldn’t go into detail about these people, I couldn’t name them and they wouldn’t question me on them.”
Mr Messham now says he wants a new investigation into what happened:
He told Newsnight: “I would like a meeting now with David Cameron. He’s made a statement, a sweeping statement that abused people need to be believed, we haven’t been believed, we’ve been swept under the carpet.
“It’s time he knew the truth. It’s time a full investigation took place and until I can meet with him and get some reassurance I don’t believe we will get anywhere.”
Richard Scorer, a solicitor with Panone and Partners, who represented 30 victims at the Waterhouse inquiry, said the original remit of the inquiry and attitudes at the time hampered a full investigation.
He told the BBC: “The terms of reference were an important restriction. It’s also fair to say at that time, and we’re going back to the mid to late 1990s here, at that time the idea that senior public figures; politicians; celebrities could be involved in child abuse was seen as a bit far-fetched.
“We now know of course from recent revelations that it isn’t far-fetched at all – and that’s part of the reason why it’s important that these allegations are looked at again.”
The investigation comes after the BBC was accused of covering up a previous Newsnight investigation into allegations that Jimmy Savile abused children.
Journalists at the flagship current affairs programme accused the BBC of pulling their report last December because the Corporation had planned Christmas tribute shows about the late presenter and DJ.
Two of Newsnight’s three most senior editors have left in the past fortnight. Peter Rippon was forced to step aside as editor last week after the BBC said there were “errors” in a website blog he wrote about why he halted the Savile investigation, and deputy editor Shaminder Nahal joined Channel 4 News this week.
Tom Watson, the deputy chairman of the Labour Party, claimed in the House of Commons last week that a paedophile ring may have had links to Downing Street under a former Prime Minister.
Mr Watson said there was “clear evidence” that a Number 10 aide was connected to Peter Righton, who was convicted in 1992 of importing child pornography, and urged police to investigate the allegations.
He has not named the aide or said who was Prime Minister at the time.
A Scotland Yard investigation set up last month to examine alleged historic sexual abuse by Savile and others has identified about 300 potential victims, all but two of them women, and is following up more than 400 lines of inquiry.