* Prime Minister says claims must be examined
* BBC report quotes victim accusing Conservative figure
* Britain embroiled in scandal of child abuse at BBC
By Mohammed Abbas
ABU DHABI, Nov 5 British Prime Minister David
Cameron ordered an investigation on Monday into the way claims
of child abuse in Wales were examined after a victim said an
unidentified Conservative Party figure had abused children in
social care in the 1970s.
Speaking during a trade mission to the United Arab Emirates,
Cameron said the allegations, aired by the BBC's flagship
current affairs programme Newsnight, were so grave that they
needed further investigation.
The unmasking of late BBC star presenter Jimmy Savile as one
of Britain's most prolific sex offenders has prompted wider
concern that some powerful paedophiles from the 1970s and 1980s
may have used their influence to avoid punishment.
Steven Messham, one of hundreds of victims of sexual abuse
at children's care homes in Wales over two decades, told the
programme that he had been sexually abused by a prominent
Conservative political figure and others in the late 1970s.
"Child abuse is an absolutely hateful and abhorrent crime
and these allegations are truly dreadful and they mustn't be
left hanging in the air, so I'm taking action today," Cameron
"I'm going to be asking a senior independent figure to lead
an urgent investigation into whether the original inquiry was
properly constituted and properly did its job, and to report
urgently to the government."
Cameron said Messham, who had asked to meet him, would be
granted a meeting with the minister for Wales.
It was impossible immediately to verify Messham's claims.
The Newsnight reporter said he could not name the figure because
there was "simply not enough evidence to name names".
The state-funded broadcaster is itself grappling with
hundreds of abuse allegations against Savile, a cigar-chomping
DJ turned television star who victims now say used his influence
to mask a lifetime of sexual abuse of young children.
In an open letter to the Prime Minister, Labour lawmaker Tom
Watson, who last month voiced concerns over a suspected
"paedophile network" with links to Parliament and the prime
minister's office, welcomed Cameron's move but reiterated his
call for a special police investigation into the abuse claims in
order to cut through any potential "establishment cover-up".
"A dedicated police unit is essential, investigating the
organised abuse of children, wherever it happened - from the
seediest backstreets even to Downing Street - without fear or
favour of exposing the rich and powerful, or those who covered
up for them," Watson wrote in the letter, published on his
Messham, who gave evidence in 2000 at an inquiry into child
abuse, told the BBC that he had been abused "more than a dozen
times" by the Conservative figure.
"You were just sexually abused, various things would happen,
drink would be involved. It was basically rape, but there
wouldn't be just him, there would be other people involved as
well," Messham said.
The Telegraph news website said it had spoken to the
politician at the centre of the accusations and he had denied
the claims. He said if the BBC named him, he would sue for
"I've never been to this children's home. The fact is that
if they publish anything about me they will get a writ in the
morning, I wouldn't wait two minutes," the Telegraph quoted the
politician as saying.
Lawyers for some of Savile's victims say their clients have
indicated there was an organised paedophile ring at the BBC at
the height of Savile's fame in the 1970s and 1980s.
Police have so far arrested glam rock singer Gary Glitter
and comedian Freddie Starr as part of their investigations. Both
men have been released on bail.
The abuse claims against Savile have also sullied the
reputation of the BBC. Newsnight itself pulled out of airing a
planned report on the abuse claims against Savile last year.
Cameron has said the sex abuse allegations leave the BBC and
other institutions with serious questions to answer.