Government announces historical child abuse inquiry

LONDON Mon Jul 7, 2014 4:39pm BST

Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May arrives for a cabinet meeting in Downing Street, central London, June 10 2014.  REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May arrives for a cabinet meeting in Downing Street, central London, June 10 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Winning

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LONDON (Reuters) - The British government has ordered a wide-ranging inquiry into historical child sex allegations stretching over several decades, Home Secretary Theresa May said on Monday.

A separate review will also be held into the handling of allegations of child abuse by politicians.

"In recent years we have seen appalling cases of organised and persistent child sex abuse," May told parliament.

"The government will establish an independent inquiry panel of experts in the law and child protection to consider whether public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse."

The broad inquiry, the chair of which is still to be appointed, will look into allegations of child abuse across organisations including the health service, political parties, the Church and the BBC.

May said that given the scope of the inquiry it was unlikely to report back before a national election in May next year but would update parliament on its progress before the vote.

Peter Wanless, the Chief Executive of anti child cruelty charity the NSPCC, has been appointed to hold a review of a 2013 investigation carried out by the interior ministry into the handling of allegations of abuse by politicians.

Wanless will also look at how police and prosecutors handled information handed to them at the time, May said.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison)

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