LONDON (Reuters) – One of Britain’s most senior civil servants said on Tuesday he did not know who, if anyone, had authorised the removal of over 100 missing government files that could shed light on allegations that well-known politicians abused children in the 1980s.
The disclosure, by Mark Sedwill, the top civil servant in Britain’s Home Office (interior ministry), is likely to fuel a media furore in Britain over the allegations, which have not yet been substantiated.
Child protection campaigners have said that at least 10 and possibly more than 20 public figures, including current and former politicians, should be investigated over allegations that they abused young children.
The claims have unsettled the current political elite, still recovering from scandals over parliamentarians’ expenses, at a time when Britain is grappling with revelations that several nationally beloved television personalities sexually abused children for decades.
The government on Monday pledged to launch a full-scale inquiry, with Prime Minister David Cameron promising it would leave “no stone unturned” to find out the truth.
Sedwill said last week that 114 files “potentially relevant” to the case had been destroyed or were missing, including allegations brought to the attention of a former Conservative home secretary, Leon Brittan, in the 1980s.
Brittan has said he dealt with the material correctly, but politicians and media have nevertheless raised broader concerns of a possible cover-up by an establishment protecting its own.
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