Leon Brittan defends role over Westminster sex abuse claims

Former Home Secretary Leon Brittan has responded to calls for him to explain what he knew about allegations of paedophilia in Westminster in the 1980s.

Lord Brittan issued a statement after Labour MP Simon Danczuk said there should be a national inquiry into allegations of historic sex abuse.

Now 74, Lord Brittan was once one of five Jewish cabinet members in Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government.

In a statement he said he had asked officials to study papers given to him by an MP during his time as Home Secretary between 1983 and 1985.

Lord Brittan said he had followed “normal procedure for handling material” presented to Cabinet members.

“Geoff Dickens MP arranged to see me at the Home Office. As I recall, he came to my room at the Home Office with a substantial bundle of papers,” he said.

“I told Mr Dickens that I would ensure that the papers were looked at carefully by the Home Office and acted on as necessary.

“Following the meeting, I asked my officials to look carefully at the material contained in the papers provided and report back to me if they considered that any action needed to be taken by the Home Office.”

Lord Brittan said he did not remember being contacted further about the issue.

Mr Danczuk has been campaigning for details of alleged sexual abuse to be revealed in full. Earlier this year he co-authored a book detailing abuse carried out by Cyril Smith, former Liberal MP for Rochdale.

On Tuesday Mr Danczuk told a Parliamentary committee that he believed a number of former Home Secretaries should reveal what they knew about allegations of paedophilia.

“I think that politics is the last refuge of child sex abuse deniers. Other institutions, the police, have dealt with this and changed their culture,” he said.

Last updated: 12:19pm, July 2 2014