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Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered an investigation into whether an official inquiry into child abuse in North Wales did its job properly, following allegations a senior Tory was involved in the scandal.

The prime minister said he would appoint a senior independent figure to lead the investigation to ensure that "truly dreadful allegations" were not left "hanging in the air".

Downing Street said a separate process would be established to look at the way police at the time dealt with the claims of abuse, which date back to the 1970s and 80s.

The moves come after one of the victims came forward to say the Waterhouse Inquiry into abuse at the Bryn Estyn children's home, which reported in 2000, looked at only a fraction of the allegations.

In an interview with BBC2's Newsnight on Friday, Steve Messham criticised the way Sir Ronald Waterhouse conducted his inquiry, arguing the terms of reference meant he was not able to raise the issue of abuse outside the care system.

Messham said he had been taken out of Bryn Estyn and "sold" to men for sexual abuse at a nearby hotel and that a senior Tory from the time, who was not named by the program, was among the perpetrators.

British newspaper the Mirror reports that Labour MP Tom Watson revealed he was contacted with accusations about a former cabinet minister who regularly abused boys.

Watson refused to disclose the identity of the alleged pedophile, believed to be a Tory who served in Margaret Thatcher's frontbench team.

The bombshell claim means there are now allegations that four senior Conservatives, including at least two who were close to the former prime minister, were child abusers.

Watson, who during prime minister's questions raised the issue of a pedophile ring linked to No 10 under a past government, called on Cameron to go further and establish a special police investigation into what happened.

In a letter to the prime minister, he said that since his intervention two weeks ago he had been contacted by a number of people who said they reported suspicions to police that were not investigated. One involved alleged child abuse and a former cabinet minister.

"We both know that many untruths are told about politicians, but this allegation was specific, informed and appeared well corroborated," he said.

The only way to uncover the truth was to establish a special police team from outside the forces involved with the necessary resources to go through all the relevant police files as well as those of the intelligence services, he said.

Speaking during a visit to Abu Dhabi, Cameron said on Monday night: "These allegations are truly dreadful and they mustn't be left hanging in the air.

"I am 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.

"I would also urge anyone who knows anything about these matters to go to the police. That is where evidence should be taken so that action can be taken and we can deal with this dreadful, dreadful issue."

The prime minister added that he was arranging for Messham to meet Welsh Secretary David Jones so he could put his concerns to him directly.

The decision by Cameron to launch an investigation is potentially embarrassing for Foreign Secretary William Hague who, as Welsh secretary in John Major's government, was responsible for setting up the Waterhouse Inquiry.

Downing Street said the government was also considering if a further inquiry was needed into whether the original abuse allegations were followed up properly by police at the time.