Read my letter to Boris Johnson, the frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest, explaining to him why police funding of investigations into historical child sex abuse cases is not ‘money spaffed up the wall’.
The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
25 May 2019
Dear Mr Johnson
As you are intending to compete for leadership of the Conservative party, and to become prime minister, I wanted to respond to your comments during your interview about police funding on LBC radio in March 2019, in which you said:
“I think an awful lot of money, an awful lot of police time that goes into these historic events is… and all this malarkey and you know some 60 million pounds that’s been spaffed up on the wall on some investigation into historic child abuse and all this kind of… what on earth is that going to do to protect the public now? What the people want is to see police out on the streets doing what they signed up to do.”
I was sexually abused by two family members as a child in the 70s and 80s, before continuing to be sexually assaulted by other boys in a children’s home in Nottinghamshire where I was sent to live under local authority care.
Your lack of empathy is astonishing, and your flippant remark angered me enormously. If funding into historical child sex abuse cases was reduced or stopped, it would send a message to those who abuse children for their own sexual gratification, that they can continue with their life-destroying compulsion with impunity.
I know, through my work with fostering agencies to help them to attract and recruit foster carers for vulnerable children and young people in local authority care, that child sex abuse is frighteningly prevalent within our society.
Indeed, I recall a discussion with a qualified social worker and head of a children’s services department in a local authority, where I was told that there is an average of ‘one child sex abuser on every street in Britain—and they are just the ones we know about.’
As a survivor of such abuse, let me tell you that it takes many years into adulthood to come to terms with what happened, and to learn to trust others in intimate relationships. Some victims of this vile abuse never achieve it, and go through life seeking the love they want, but repeating a soul-destroying pattern of failed relationships as a result.
Over the course of my career, I have worked closely with NSPCC Childline. It turns out I was among the first children to use the service, when it was first launched over 30 years ago:
I have told my story, alongside Dame Esther Rantzen DBE, and HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex, at a Childline fundraising event in Buckingham Palace.
I have told my story, which was turned into a video clip, to support Childline’s Christmas fundraising appeals.
And I have told my story, turned into a training video, to support child protection police officers at North Wales Police.
Each time I have done so, I have landed in bed for several days, overcome with depression. I pay a very high emotional price when I tell my story, but I do so because I want to help to raise awareness of child abuse and play a part in protecting today’s children and young people.
We absolutely must defend the best interests of our children, and I urge you to retract and apologise for your thoughtless and unkind comments, and to moderate your position on this issue.