John Mann MP says scale of historical child abuse claims ‘too many for state
John Mann, who has given a dossier of allegations of historical abuse to Scotland Yard, told the Today programme victims wanted a national institute.
The Labour MP for Bassetlaw said the government needed victims’ confidence.
It comes after Baroness Butler-Sloss cautioned against giving victims too much influence over who led the probe.
The retired judge, who stepped down as head of a planned public inquiry into historical child abuse, said there could be “real problems” if victims were to decide who is its eventual chair.
She also told BBC Radio 4’s Today she has “enormous sympathy” for the victims.
The inquiry, sparked by claims of paedophiles operating in Westminster in the 1980s, is set to investigate whether “public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales”.
The panel has started work but has no-one to lead it after its first two nominations resigned. Mrs May, who is still considering the format of the inquiry, has told the current panel it might be disbanded.
Dozens of survivors have called for the government to scrap the current inquiry and replace it with a more powerful body.
Mr Mann said: “It’s not just about who chairs an inquiry, it’s about what the remit of an inquiry should be, who else should be sat on that inquiry, who should be advising it.”
He said there was far too much emphasis “on an individual”.
“As an example, one of the things that survivors’ groups are calling for in the discussions I’ve had with them is for government to set up a national institute to take forward this work on what you do with all these people coming forward.
“Probably, it’s going to be many tens of thousands of people across the country.
“The state can’t deal with the numbers of people coming forward.
“The police and social services cannot cope with the volume that’s there, even now. And we’re hardly at the beginning of people coming forward.”
“It’s people in authority, for example in the police, for example at the top of local authorities, who failed to act over the years and have failed to act when some of these people came forward in the past.
“I’m getting vast numbers of people, including my constituents, coming forward making allegations. Many of those people came forward in the past and weren’t listened to or weren’t believed.
“And that’s a key part of the problem. What do you do with people making allegations against people, and nothing was done in the past, when the people they’re making allegations against in some cases are dead.
Lady Butler-Sloss stood down earlier this year amid claims she faced a conflict of interest because her late brother, Sir Michael Havers, was attorney general at the time of some of the alleged abuse.
Speaking to the Today programme, of which she was guest editor on Wednesday, Lady Butler-Sloss said “there has to be a victim voice on the panel” but the survivors should not be able to chair it themselves or choose who fills the position.
She said: “You need someone who knows how to run things and if you get someone from an obscure background, with no background of establishment, they’ll find it very difficult and may not be able actually to produce the goods.”