Thursday, November 30

Sex abuse victims accidentally named by MPs



The House of Commons’ home affairs select committee, chaired by Keith Vaz MP, made four victims’ names public on its website as part of its inquiry into the Home Office’s handling of the issue.

Some of the victims named in the documents have been approached by their abusers and claimed they had even received death threats.

In a letter to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, a group of abuse survivors said: “It has exposed us as individuals, making us feel vulnerable, and is having a huge impact on our work.”

Earlier this week Mr Vaz said he was aiming for “transparency” by publishing the 96 page dossier, which is believed to have been leaked by Sharon Evans, a member of the Home Office’s abuse panel.

The documents included email discussions between officials working on the sex abuse inquiry, and were disclosed to the committee in a bid to support claims that Mrs Evans had been bullied by another member of the inquiry team.

However, the home affairs committee made the documents public in an unedited form, and has now been forced to go back and redact the names of victims and other sensitive details.

A letter signed by the four people who were named, and by 14 other individiuals, said: “Named individuals/survivors have been subjected to social media hate campaigns as a result of the disclosures and negative attitudes expressed by some panel members.

“The way the panel members have discussed other survivors, specifically [name], [name], [name] and [name] is a shameful reflection of their lack of responsibility and knowledge of the issues.

“It has exposed us as individuals, making us feel vulnerable and having a huge impact on our work and organisations.

“[Name] and his young daughter have been targeted by convicted abuser [name].

“The tabloids have called for comment with information on our family members and we have received death threats.

“As individuals – who are also survivors – to experience this without the offer of support or apology from the home affairs select committee, the secretariat or the Home Office is a shameful reflection of process.

“It has created divisions among survivors and groups which is an unforgivable consequence of attempts to secure public support for individual panel members without regard for the overall aims of the inquiry.”

Mr Vaz issued a short statement which insisted the names were “already in the public domain”.

“Last week, some material from the independent panel inquiry into child sexual abuse came into the committee’s possession in the course of our inquiry,” he said.

“The material included directions to panel members about how they should answer questions from the committee, as well as e-mail exchanges between panel members about the panel’s external communications strategy.

“These emails included the names of third parties.

“At the request of the individuals concerned the material has been redacted to remove references to these individuals.

“The names of all these individuals were already in the public domain.”