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FORMER Conservative Cabinet minister Lord Tebbit admitted yesterday that there “may well” have been a political cover-up over child abuse in the 1980s.
The Thatcher-era minister said the instinct of people at the time was to protect “the system” and not to delve too deeply into allegations.
His comments came as the Home Office announced a fresh review into what happened to a file alleging paedophile activity at Westminster which was handed to then home secretary Leon (now Lord) Brittan by the Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens.
More than 100 official files relating to the allegations of organised child abuse have gone missing, the Home Office revealed yesterday.
Home Office permanent secretary Mark Sedwill said the documents — which related to a 20-year period between 1979 and 1999 — were “presumed destroyed, missing or not found.”
Appearing on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show, Lord Tebbit said: “At that time I think most people would have thought that the Establishment — the system — was to be protected."
Asked if he thought there had been a “big political cover-up” at the time, he said: “I think there may well have been. But it was almost unconscious. It was the thing that people did at that time.”
Senior Labour MP Margaret Hodge condemned the “veil of secrecy” that has shrouded the Establishment for far too long.
“Now the Establishment who thought they were always protected find actually they are subject to the same rigours of the law and that’s right,” she told Sky’s Murnaghan programme.
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