Political institutions failed to respond to historical claims of child sexual abuse but there was no evidence of an organised paedophile network at Westminster, an inquiry has found.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse says there had been a “significant problem” of deference towards people of public prominence.
A long-awaited report into allegations criticises political parties and police for not acting on information.
A “blind eye” was turned, it says.
The report found that institutions “regularly put their own reputations or political interests before child protection”.
It cited as an example the former Liberal party leader, Lord Steel, who was criticised for not acting on information that former MP Cyril Smith had abused children.
Lord Steel told the inquiry last year how he failed to pass on allegations against the then MP for Rochdale even though he believed them to be true, because it was “past history”. He subsequently recommended Smith for a knighthood.
Professor Alexis Jay, who chaired the inquiry, said: “It is clear to see that Westminster institutions have repeatedly failed to deal with allegations of child sexual abuse, from turning a blind eye to actively shielding abusers.”