How far will people go to protect other people, what secrets will be kept to protect those with power?
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA), estimated to have cost £150 million since being launched in 2014, has just announced its findings. IICSA concluded that while there had been individual cases of wrongdoing, there was no organised VIP paedophile ring and no establishment cover up.
Lord Steel, the former Liberal leader, has quit the party after he was criticised for failing to flag up concerns over the late Cyril Smith, Liberal MP for Rochdale, who was later exposed as a serial paedophile.
IICSA was set up by Theresa May when she was home secretary. She came under pressure following claims, including one from Labour MP Tom Watson, that a VIP paedophile ring existed.
A series of false allegations by fantasists were exposed, including claims from Carl Beech that he was abused by a string of high profile politicians and public figures. Beech, himself a convicted paedophile, was subsequently jailed for eighteen years for perverting the course of justice.
“The report concludes that there are examples of a political culture which values its reputation far higher than the fate of the children involved.”
Truth and lies; the inquiry had also investigated abuse and cover ups in the church and other institutions. After so many revelations in so many countries, going back into the past, but also in the present, it’s no wonder that the public are likely to believe any new allegations.
When I was writing my novel ‘At The Seaside Nobody Hears you Scream’, cover ups by people in power became one of the themes. Who keeps the secrets, who is trying to find out the truth? It seemed credible that the character Griff would believe someone in power knew what had happened to his schoolboy brother, who had disappeared without trace years ago. If MPs and the Metropolitan Police were taking seriously the claims there had been a Westminster paedophile ring and even murders of boys, so would anyone looking for answers.
Before I finished writing the novel it was discovered Carl Beech had been lying. His crime was terrible in itself, ruining the lives of innocent men and damaging the credibility of genuine victims. But back in 2014, when the novel is set, it seemed credible that Beech was telling the truth and it is true that people in power have abused children and others have kept their secrets.
Tobias Channing, in his search for his missing girlfriend Anna, meets Griff and discovers her disappearance could be part of a web of truth and lies.