Butler-Sloss to head abuse inquiry
Retired senior judge Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, 80, has been named as the chairman of a wide-ranging review into historical child sex abuse.
Lady Butler-Sloss led the Cleveland child abuse inquiry in the late 1980s.
Mark Sedwill, the Home Office's top civil servant, who is being quizzed by MPs about historical sex abuse claims involving politicians, said he was determined "we have to put this right".
"As a citizen, as a parent, I shudder when I think about this," he said.
Mr Sedwill is being asked by the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee how his department lost or destroyed 114 files that could have shed light on alleged abuse in the 1980s.
Home Secretary Theresa May has announced a separate review, headed by the NSPCC's Peter Wanless, which would focus on concerns the Home Office failed to act on allegations of child sex abuse contained in a dossier handed over in the 1980s by former Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens.
Mr Sedwill told MPs that the Wanless review would be given independent legal advice from Richard Whittam, QC, First Senior Treasury Counsel at the Central Criminal Court.
Separately, Baroness Butler-Sloss's broader, independent inquiry, will look at how seriously public bodies and other important institutions have taken their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse.
The probe aims to address public concern over failings exposed by recent child sex abuse cases involving celebrities such as Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris.
Mr Sedwill said Lady Butler-Sloss' inquiry would not be pursing individual cases, although she will want to hear cases of that type.
She was determined to "leave no stone unturned", he said, adding that he was sure her report would "be thorough and complete".
Announcing the peer's appointment, Home Secretary Theresa May said: "In recent years we have seen appalling cases of organised and persistent child sex abuse that have exposed serious failings by public bodies and important institutions.
"That is why the government has established an independent panel of experts to consider whether these organisations have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse.
"I am pleased to announce today that Baroness Butler-Sloss has been appointed to lead this inquiry."
Baroness Butler-Sloss said: "I'm honoured to have been invited to lead this inquiry - the next step is to appoint the panel and agree the terms of reference.
"We will begin this important work as soon as possible."
Lady Butler-Sloss was coroner for the inquests into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and Dodi Al Fayed until she stepped down in 2007.
Her report on child sex abuse in Cleveland during the 1980s - which had led to more than 100 children being removed from their families - resulted in the Children's Act 1989.
Earlier on Tuesday Jim Gamble, former head of the police's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, criticised the decision to bring in "amateurs" to find out what happened to the files, instead of "professional investigators".
Labour leader Ed Miliband said he would look at whether the proposed inquiries were "sufficiently comprehensive and sufficiently over-arching to get at the truth about what happened".
And The Bishop of Durham, The Right Rev Paul Butler, said he feared the "whole story won't come out" unless witnesses had to answer questions on oath.
A review commissioned last year by Mr Sedwill, into the Home Office's handling of child abuse allegations between 1979 and 1999, found that some 114 files were missing, although he found no evidence that they had been removed or destroyed "inappropriately".
Mrs May said she was confident the work commissioned by Mr Sedwill had been "carried out in good faith", but added that with "allegations as serious as these the public need to have complete confidence in the integrity of the investigation's findings".
Keith Vaz, the Labour chair of the home affairs committee, said his members would be careful not to jeopardise any live cases. "This is not a police investigation - this is an investigation on process so we'll not be going into names of people," he told the BBC.
The meeting follows claims by former child protection manager Peter McKelvie that at least 20 prominent figures - including former MPs and government ministers - abused children for "decades".
Mr McKelvie, whose allegations led initially to a 2012 police inquiry, said a "powerful elite" of paedophiles carried out "the worst form" of abuse.
Giving his first television interview for 20 years - Mr McKelvie told the BBC: "I would say we are looking at upwards of 20 (people) and a much larger number of people who have known about it and done nothing about it, who were in a position to do something about it."
Mr McKelvie said some of those who were alleged to have abused children had now died.
He told the BBC he had spoken to victims over "many, many years" and that children - "almost exclusively boys" - were moved around like "lumps of meat".
They had been subjected to the "worst form of abuse", including rape, he said.
Mr McKelvie was a child protection manager in Hereford and Worcester and worked on the conviction of paedophile Peter Righton - a former consultant to the National Children's Bureau.
Righton, who is now dead, was also a founding member of the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), before he was convicted of importing child pornography.
However, Mr McKelvie told the BBC that the evidence discovered in the case went much further than simply Righton.
'Boxes of evidence'
Mr McKelvie - who had access to documents relating to paedophile networks linked to the Righton inquiry - said he told police in 2012 there were seven boxes of potential evidence being stored by West Mercia police.
He said the evidence included letters between Righton and other alleged paedophiles.
In 2012, Mr McKelvie took his concerns to Labour MP Tom Watson, who then raised the matter in Parliament, prompting a preliminary police inquiry in 2012 that became a formal inquiry in 2013.
His interview comes after footage emerged of a former Conservative MP suggesting to the BBC in 1995 that party whips might not disclose certain behaviour of colleagues including that "involving small boys."
Tim Fortescue, who was a senior whip in Sir Edward Heath's government from 1970-73, claimed that MPs would "come and ask if we could help and if we could, we did".
Former Labour minister Lord Warner, who carried out an inquiry into children's homes in the early 1990s, said he believed Mr McKelvie's claims were plausible.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today: "We certainly know from the inquiry I did in 1992 for Virginia Bottomley (Conservative health secretary 1992-95) that some of these children's homes were targeted by people in power.... powerful people.
"It is possible that people who were authoritative, powerful in particular communities, did sometimes have access to children's homes."
Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police have also said there will be a wider inquiry into allegations of a cover-up involving paedophile abuse at Knowl View residential school - a school linked to the late MP Cyril Smith - in Rochdale in the 1980s and 1990s.
Key questions answered
Why has this come up now?
Labour MP Simon Danczuk last week called on Leon Brittan to say what the then home secretary did with documents he was passed in the 1980s containing allegations about powerful figures and paedophilia.
What happened to the files?
Lord Brittan passed them to Home Office officials. A 2013 review found 114 documents were unaccounted for. The review found the minister had acted appropriately.
What did the papers allege?
The allegations, compiled by Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens, were set to "blow the lids off" the lives of powerful child abusers, the MP's son has said. The late Mr Dickens said he planned to expose eight such figures.
Read more: 1980s child abuse claims explained
Lord Butler, the former head of the civil service, told BBC Newsnight he had heard nothing about a child abuse network at Westminster.
He said that given the number of files involved, "it's quite difficult to imagine there could have been a cover-up without quite a lot of people knowing about it".
And David Mellor, a Home Office minister in the 1980s said: "If any evidence of paedophile activity had crossed my desk while I was Home Office minister, or those of any of my ministerial colleagues, I am totally certain effective action would have been taken," he wrote in The Guardian.