Exaro News Archive

Exaro panel debate: ‘Did the UK cover up over child sex abuse?’

Meirion Jones, Esther Baker, Sharon Evans and Paul Connew are our panellists for event

By Mark Watts | 6 January 2016

“Connew also tried to expose Savile at the Sunday Mirror, but was frustrated mainly by the UK’s notoriously draconian libel laws”

Exaro will later this month hold its second panel debate. It will be on: “Did the UK establishment and media cover up over child sex abuse?”

As Exaro raises ever sharper questions about the conduct of UK institutions, including the media, over the sexual abuse of children, I shall be chairing what is set to be an illuminating debate – with another top-flight set of panellists. They are:

  • Meirion Jones, former investigative producer at BBC2’s Newsnight and BBC1’s Panorama;
  • Esther Baker, a survivor of abuse as a girl and the key witness in a huge police investigation into allegations of child sexual exploitation;
  • Sharon Evans, chief executive of Dot Com Children’s Foundation, which promotes child safeguarding;
  • Paul Connew, media commentator, former editor of the Sunday Mirror, and previously deputy editor of the Daily Mirror and of the News of the World.

We shall also have a special contribution to the debate from Exaro’s David Hencke.

Jones was blocked in an attempt at Newsnight to expose Sir Jimmy Savile, one of the BBC’s biggest stars, as a paedophile. While Newsnight pulled the investigation into Savile, the BBC went ahead with tributes to him over Christmas of 2011 following his death two months earlier.

Baker is the complainant in one of several police investigations into allegations of child sex abuse that include claims against prominent people. While she can speak of her experience of the police and the media, she will be unable to discuss her case because proceedings are active, with one person arrested so far. In addition, police have interviewed a former MP under caution about allegations by her against him.

Evans, herself an abuse survivor, is a former member of the panel for the overarching inquiry into child sex abuse.

Connew wrote for Exaro last year about how, as editor of the Sunday Mirror in 1994, he attempted to expose the late Sir Peter Morrison, former parliamentary private secretary (PPS) to Lady Thatcher when she was prime minister, for sexually assaulting underage boys. At around the same time, Connew also tried to expose Savile at the Sunday Mirror, but was frustrated mainly by the UK’s notoriously draconian libel laws.

The panellists will begin with some opening comments, but much of the time will be for questions to the panel from the audience.

The UK’s “care” system for children, the police response in the past and present, the conduct of the media and the BBC in particular – as well as the ‘Westminster paedophile network’ – are likely to feature in the debate.

The debate will be filmed. There will then be a drinks reception, where you will have the chance to meet members of the Exaro team.

The event will be on the evening of Wednesday, January 27 in Fleet Street, at a venue to be arranged. Guests will be asked to arrive by 6pm, in time for the debate to start at 6.30pm sharp. It will finish at 7.30pm, when it will be time for drinks.

If there are seats available, you will receive an e-mail from us to confirm your place, with full details of the venue, which will be on the ground floor.

You will need a print-out of your confirmation e-mail to be sure of entry, along with identification (in the form of a bank card, driving licence or passport). Please note that, for everyone’s safety, we shall be checking ID before allowing entry.

Exaro, launched just over four years ago, has pushed the issue of child sex abuse to the top of the agenda in the UK, sparking several police investigations and the national overarching inquiry.

This is the second in a quarterly series of Exaro panel debates. Last September saw Tony Gallagher, newly-appointed as editor of The Sun, make a clarion call for investigative journalism during the inaugural Exaro debate on whether the media ever held power to account.

Related Stories : Child sex abuse, ‘Fernbridge’ and ‘Fairbank’: Exaro story thread

By Exaro News

Exaro News investigates matters of public interest and seeks to uncover the truth.