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Fri, 5 June 2020

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Tom Watson peerage 'should be blocked' after probe finds no evidence of Westminster VIP abuse ring

Tom Watson peerage 'should be blocked' after probe finds no evidence of Westminster VIP abuse ring
4 min read

Former Tory MP Harvey Proctor has called for Labour’s Tom Watson to be denied a peerage after a long-running inquiry found no evidence of a VIP paedophile ring operating in Westminster.

Mr Proctor, who was falsely accused of child abuse, said the former Labour deputy leader should “not be ennobled” in the wake of a report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA). 

Mr Watson made a dramatic Commons statement in 2012 alleging the existence of a “powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and Number 10”.

The statement played a part in the establishment of the IICSA, which reported on Tuesday that while there was “ample” proof that “individual perpetrators of child sexual abuse have been linked to Westminster”, there was no evidence of an organised "Westminster paedophile network" in which "persons of prominence conspired to pass children amongst themselves for the purpose of sexual abuse".

Mr Watson had also given his public backing to the testimony of Carl Beech, previously known as “Nick”, who said he had witnessed the rape and murder of young boys, and had himself been abused.

That led to a to a £2.5 million police inquiry, known as Operation Midland, which revealed Mr Beech to be a fantasist. Mr Beech was jailed for 18 years for offences including perverting the course of justice.

Mr Proctor, a Tory MP from 1979 to 1987, told the Daily Mail: “Mr Watson should not be ennobled.”

And he added: “Tom Watson shamefully hood-winked the country for years to advance his own personal and political position. The police and the CPS should now consider arresting him and charging him for the wholesale damage he has done to the likes of the late Field Marshal Lord Bramall, Sir Edward Heath, Lord Brittan and others, including myself.”

That view was echoed by former Scotland Yard detective Paul Settle, who told the same paper: “Tom Watson's claims were politically motivated from the outset.

“Despite claims to the contrary, he was only interested in pursuing allegations against Conservative politicians, insisting on them being hounded despite there being no credible evidence.

'It is grossly offensive to those families which he caused so much hurt and pain that he should even be considered for a peerage let alone recommended.”

Speaking in October, Mr Watson said he felt "very, very sorry" for those caught up in the high-profile abuse allegations.

He told Channel 4 News: "I hate to see people in pain. I genuinely feel very deeply for the people who have had injustices done to them as a result of the failed police inquires - I really do.

"I understand why they are angry and I understand why some of the anger is targeted at me.

"I don't want people to feel sorry for me, but I don't want people to question my motives either. I did my best, that's all you can do in life.

"I am genuinely very, very sorry that the inquires didn't go the way they did. I genuinely was trying to do the right thing."

The calls come after former Liberal leader Lord Steel resigned from the Lib Dems and quit the House of Lords in the wake of criticism at his handling of allegations of child abuse against the late MP Cyril Smith.

The 81-year-old ex-leader was accused of an "abdication of responsibility" by the independent inquiry for “turning a blind eye to something that was potentially troublesome to his party”.

Lord Steel came under fire last year when he told the inquiry that he saw “no reason, or no locus to go back to” allegations against Smith, the former Liberal MP for Rochdale, because they related to the time before he joined the party.

A Lib Dem spokesperson said: "Cyril Smith’s acts were vile and repugnant. We have nothing but sympathy for those who lives he ruined.

"The Liberal Democrats take the issue of vigilance and safeguarding seriously and constantly work to improve our party processes, including the introduction of a new complaints process last year. This Inquiry has set out a list of important recommendations which all institutions should take seriously and seek to learn from."

They added: "Following the publication of the report, David Steel has resigned from the party and retired from public life."