UK Politics

Wanless abuse review: Who are the key players

Theresa May is due to present the findings of a review into the handling of allegations of child sex abuse in the 1980s.

The home secretary set up the review, headed by the NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless, in July 2014, after criticism that the Home Office had failed to investigate historical abuse claims thoroughly.

Here is the background to the key figures involved.


Geoffrey Dickens - former Conservative MP

Image caption Geoffrey Dickens led a crusade to expose high-profile sex abusers.

The late Geoffrey Dickens was the driving force behind the campaign to expose high-profile paedophilia. He compiled a dossier, naming MPs and police officers he suspected of child abuse.

He gave it to the then Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, in 1983. The Wanless review remit includes trying to find out what happened to the "Dickens dossier", amid claims it has been lost.

A former foster child and polio victim turned heavyweight boxer, Dickens was a Tory MP from 1979 until his death in 1995.

A pugnacious right-winger from a working-class background, he was a larger-than-life character whom many didn't take seriously.

But he was not deterred from his campaign to expose paedophilia, which lasted many years.

In 1981, he exposed a former top diplomat, Sir Peter Hayman, using parliamentary privilege. Hayman was later jailed for indecency.


Leon Brittan - Conservative peer and former home secretary

Image caption Leon Brittan was home secretary between 1983 and 1985

Conservative politician and barrister Leon Brittan was elected to Parliament in 1974, rising quickly through the ranks to become home secretary in 1983.

He has come under pressure to make public what he knew about allegations of paedophiles operating in Westminster in the 1980s.

After the Wanless review was announced, Lord Brittan confirmed that he had received a dossier from Geoffrey Dickens. He insisted he'd passed it to Home Office officials for proper examination.

An internal review published in 2013 found that Lord Brittan and officials had acted appropriately.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Lord Brittan had been interviewed by police over a historical allegation of rape.

He said: "I have been questioned by the police about a serious allegation made against me. This allegation is wholly without foundation."

Lord Brittan resigned from the Thatcher government in 1986 over the Westland affair.

A strong europhile, he spent a decade as an EU commissioner before being made a peer in 2000.


Peter Wanless - inquiry chair

Image caption NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless has been supported in his review by a leading barrister

Peter Wanless was appointed by Home Secretary Theresa May in July 2014 to investigate the Home Office's handling of the "Dickens dossier".

His review has been investigating internal procedures and is separate from the wide-ranging sex abuse inquiry announced by Mrs May at the same time.

A former senior civil servant, Mr Wanless has been head of the children's charity, the NSPCC, since 2013.

He has been supported in his review by a leading barrister, Richard Whittam QC.


Simon Danczuk - Labour MP

Image caption Labour MP Simon Danczuk says an "informal network of paedophiles" operated in the heart of government

The Labour MP for Rochdale since 2010, Simon Danczuk has taken up Geoffrey Dickens's baton as a leading campaigner in Parliament on child sex abuse.

His campaign to expose the late Liberal Cyril Smith - his predecessor as Rochdale MP, - led to the police renewing their investigations.

Mr Danczuk claimed Cyril Smith used his powerful position to evade prosecution for sexually abusing boys.

Mr Danczuk criticised the original Home Office report into the "Dickens dossier" as inadequate and he has been a leading advocate of independent scrutiny of historical abuse allegations.

An outspoken northerner from a working-class background, he has a reputation as a combative MP who is not afraid to buck the party line.

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