Treading a fine line in high profile paedophile claims

New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, in Westminster, London.
New Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police, in Westminster, London.

The rumpus caused by the recent Panorama programme questioning the police investigation into historic allegations of child abuse shows no signs of abating.

Under Operation Midland the Metropolitan Police have been investigating allegations of a VIP paedophile ring for some years.

Amid concerns that they were not taking the complainants seriously they seem to have increased their efforts of late, and the involvement of Tom Watson MP, Labour’s deputy leader, has undoubtedly had some influence on this. In 2012 he raised concerns in the Commons that there was a prospect of “a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10.”

The Panorama programme questioned the credibility of the accusers along with the motivation of some, and in particular Mr Watson, in bringing pressure to bear to ensure the investigation was intensified.

The Met has been critical of the Panorama programme and some of its journalists. They have suggested their actions in speaking to potential witnesses could compromise police enquiries. Not one to normally champion the cause of the police I do have some sympathy with the Met on this occasion.

It seems to me, and this is no doubt influenced by the flack the police received over their apparent inactivity in relation to other high profile abuse cases, that they are damned if they do investigate such allegations and damned if they don’t.

The task facing the police in investigating these sensitive matters is immense. It is estimated it will take 10 years to cover the backlog of cases of historical allegations of abuse they currently have.

In my humble opinion, the police should be allowed to get on with investigating these matters with open and impartial minds and without being hampered by journalists, politicians or anyone else for that matter.

If they are constantly pressured by outside influences then there is a real danger they will be persuaded into putting scarce resources into investigations that lead nowhere and could undermine campaigns against genuine child abuse.