Isabel Hardman

Rob Wilson attacks Tom Watson on child abuse claims

Rob Wilson attacks Tom Watson on child abuse claims
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After Lord McAlpine's statement this morning about the allegations and rumours of child abuse surrounding the Tory peer and other figures, Tory MP Rob Wilson has gone on the warpath and written a stern letter to Tom Watson, who first raised the possibility of a paedophile ring linked to Number 10. Wilson doesn't hold back in the letter, which you can read in full here:

'MPs can and do play a vital role in bringing such matters to public attention. However, as a result of your repeated and sensationalist public claims of the involvement in abuse of a 'senior aide of a former Prime Minister', 'a former cabinet minister', and alleged abuse taking place in 'Downing Street', several people who vigorously protest their innocence have been widely named on the internet as paedophiles. I am sure you understand the effect on their lives of such allegations, if untrue. Some of them have been besieged by the media, causing distress to their families and neighbours.

'As I am sure you agree, unfounded allegations could lead to innocent lives being damaged - or even destroyed. So, in the interests of the innocent, I am asking you to exercise caution and be sure that you can fully substantiate allegations yourself before making them in public. I fully respect your motives, but it is important that you do not add to unsubstantiated rumours by publicly repeating them.'

He instructs Watson to take any further information to the police. Wilson has also written to Ofcom to complain about Newsnight's broadcast last Friday, asking whether Ofcom 'believes there may be grounds for investigating whether the BBC did in fact give the man against whom these allegations were being made an appropriate and timely opportunity to respond before the episode of Newsnight was broadcast'. He also asks whether Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, believes there is a loophole in the Ofcom broadcasting code which allows broadcasters to step around its fairness requirements. In a third letter to BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten, Wilson asks for more details on the commissioning process of the Newsnight investigation and whether the journalists involved approached the politician their report referred to.

Watson has adopted these allegations about 'Tory paedophiles' as his next crusade following the phone hacking scandal, and has already suggested that the backlash against the social media mob is not dissimilar to the refusal of many commentators and politicians to accept that phone hacking was as widespread as it turned out to be. He has also been making links to an ongoing row about the Church of England and child abuse in Eastbourne, suggesting that investigating cover-ups of child abuse is going to be a long-term project for him, no matter what Rob Wilson says.