The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, has warned that accusations of paedophilia against senior Conservative politicians risk creating a "witch hunt", particularly against gay people.
The Prime Minister made his comments after being confronted on daytime television with a piece of paper listing the names circulating on the internet about Conservative Party politicians possibly involved in child sex abuse allegations. It was accidentally briefly flashed on air.
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British Prime Minister handed 'paedophile list'
A British tv presenter has apologised after handing a list of suspected paedophiles to British Prime Minister David Cameron live on air.
Speaking on ITV1's This Morning, Mr Cameron appealed to anybody with information to contact the police but raised concerns over the internet speculation about who may be embroiled in the scandal dating back to the 1970s and '80s.
"I've heard all sorts of names bandied around and what then tends to happen is everyone sits around and speculates about people, some of whom are alive, some of whom are dead," he said.
"I do think it's very important that anyone who's got any information about any paedophile, no matter how high up in the country or whether they are alive or dead, go to the police."
The presenter Phillip Schofield passed Mr Cameron a piece of paper listing names he had gathered from the internet, telling Mr Cameron "you know the names on that piece of paper, will you be speaking to these people?".
Mr Cameron replied: "There is a danger if we are not careful that this can turn into a sort of witch hunt, particularly about people who are gay, and I'm worried about the sort of thing you are doing right now, taking a list of names off the internet."
He said the allegations were "extremely serious" and the government had "moved quickly to try to get to the bottom of what they are".
Schofield later apologised for potentially revealing the names, blaming a "misjudged camera angle". He said: "If any viewer was able to identify anyone listed, I would like to apologise and stress that was never my intention. I was not accusing anyone of anything and it is essential that it is understood that I would never be part of any kind of witch hunt.
"Unfortunately there may have been a misjudged camera angle for a split second as I showed the Prime Minister some information I had obtained from the internet."
The Conservative MP Rob Wilson wrote to Ed Richards, the chief executive of the broadcasting watchdog, Ofcom, urging him to investigate whether This Morning breached the broadcasting code "when Mr Schofield revealed the names of certain individuals in connection with allegations of child abuse and paedophilia against Conservative politicians".
An ITV spokesperson said: "It is extremely regrettable that names may have been very briefly visible as a result of a misjudged camera angle, although most viewers would not have been able to read the list. As Phillip has stressed, the program was not accusing anyone of anything."
There is a danger if we are not careful that this can turn into a sort of witch hunt, particularly about people who are gay.
Allegations that senior Conservative politicians may have been involved in child abuse at children's homes in north Wales triggered two inquiries this week. They are the latest in a number of inquiries set up over recent weeks after a slew of historic child sex abuse allegations involving the BBC, care homes and Whitehall surfaced, beginning with revelations about the BBC presenter Jimmy Savile.
One of the main issues will be why 28 alleged abusers, including an influential ally of Lady Thatcher, were identified during the original north Wales inquiry but had their names protected.
The former children's minister Tim Loughton in an open letter to the Prime Minister on Thursday urged him to launch a single, wide-ranging, judicial inquiry into child abuse for fear of "drowning" in separate inquiries "which now run to double figures". It was time to set up an overarching inquiry "into what went wrong across a whole range of institutions", he said.
Mr Cameron did not rule out one "mega inquiry" further down the line, but said he was interested in getting the information in the quickest way possible.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said there should be an overarching review to pull together the findings and the "lessons learned" from all the inquiries into child abuse once they were completed.
Its chief executive, Andrew Flanagan, said:
"We must maintain this momentum and use this opportunity to fundamentally change how we help children and young people to talk about abuse.
"As a country, and individually, we should commit to helping young people speak out as soon as they fear they are at risk, or as soon as abuse starts, not months or even years later."
Guardian News & Media