Thursday, November 8, 2012

David Cameron ambushed on live TV as Phillip Schofield hands him list of alleged Tory child abusers in 'witch-hunt' stunt

-Prime Minister stunned by This Morning presenter who hands him card with names he found after a 'cursory glance' at the internet
-No. 10 condemn the 'stunt' saying those named on the list will want to defend themselves
-Mr Cameron accuses programme of of fuelling a 'witch-hunt, particularly against people who are gay'
-Tory MPs condemn the 'celebrity ambush' which could break Ofcom rules
-Mr Schofield issues an apology for a 'mis-judged camera angle'

By Matt Chorley, Mailonline Political Editor

David Cameron was today sensationally handed a list of alleged Tory paedophiles on live television.

This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield said he had compiled the list of names after a three-minute ‘cursory glance’ at the internet, and gave it to the Prime Minister live on ITV1.

But the presenter later admitted a 'misjudged camera angle' meant some of the names could have been seen by the programme's millions of viewers. Tory MPs said Mr Schofield should take his claims to to the police, not 'ambush' the Prime Minister.

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This was the extraordinary moment Philip Scholfield handed the list of names to David Cameron

When Mr Schofield took the list back he accidentally turned it to the cameras risking viewers seeing it. The image has been blurred

If the names are clear enough to read, it could trigger legal action from the individuals involved.

Mr Schofield sensationally apologised for flashing the card in front of the cameras: 'If any viewer was able to identify anyone listed, I would like to apologise and stress that was never my intention.

'I was not accusing anyone of anything and it is essential that it is understood that I would never be part of any kind of witch hunt.

'Unfortunately there may have been a misjudged camera angle for a split second as I showed the Prime Minister some information I had obtained from the internet.

'I asked for his reaction to give him the opportunity to make a point which he very clearly made about the dangers of any witch hunt.'

Mr Schofield handed over the card with names gleaned from the internet, telling the Premier: 'You know the names on that piece of paper. Will you be speaking to those people?’

A clearly-unhappy Mr Cameron said he did not like what the presenter was doing, and warned he was fuelling a ‘witch hunt'. He said: 'There is a danger if we are not careful, that this can turn into a sort of witch-hunt, particularly against people who are gay.

‘I’m worried about the sort of thing you are doing right now…. giving me a list of names you have taken off the internet.'

He urged anyone with information to contact the police.

Mr Cameron did not look at the card on air, but placed it on the table in front of him.

An aide to the PM said Mr Cameron 'did not think it was handled in the right way'. A No10. source added: 'This silly stunt has resulted in people's names being put out there. They will want to vigorously defend themselves.'

Tory MP Rob Wilson told MailOnline: 'Some of us have been painstakingly trying to get to the bottom of these allegations about Jimmy Savile and others for months in a responsible and diligent way.'

The Prime Minister was visibly taken aback by the stunt and accused the ITV show of fuelling a 'witch-hunt'

Mr Wilson added: 'It is very unhelpful for celebrities to ambush the Prime Minister and reveal information that is not in the public domain for very good reason.

'If Phillip Schofield feels his information is water-tight, he should take it to the police without delay.

'I am now concerned that by doing this ITV has, albeit inadvertently, broken Ofcom rules that people implicated in this way must be given a right to reply to allegations in advance.'

It follows claims by Steve Messham on Newsnight last week that he was abused by a former top Tory at the Bryn Estyn home in North Wales.

Labour MP Tom Watson also claimed in the Commons last month that a former No. 10 aide had links to a paedophile ring in the early 1990s. Since then several names have circulated online.

Some viewers said the names could clearly be seen. A No. 10 source said: 'They will want to vigorously defend themselves.'

Mr Cameron was appearing on This Morning to discuss a new drive to tackle dementia.

But he was ambushed by Mr Schofield, who said: ‘There could have been a cover-up, a paedophile ring amongst the elite of great Britain that led all the way to Downing Street.’

Mr Cameron said they were ‘extremely serious allegations’ and insisted the government had moved ‘quickly’ to ‘get to the bottom of exactly what they are’.

The Premier went on: ‘I have heard all sorts of names being bandied around.

'What then tends to happen is everyone speculates about people… some of whom are alive, some of whom are dead.

‘I do think it’s very important that anyone who has got any information about any paedophile no matter how high up in the country or whether they are alive or dead, go to the police. This is very important.’

It was at this point that Mr Schofield produced his list of names written on a This Morning cue card. He said he had made a ‘cursory glance at the internet’.

‘It took me about three minutes last night to continually find a list of the same names. I have those names there. Those are the names on a piece of paper. You know the names on that piece of paper. Will you be speaking to those people?’

Steve Messham met with Welsh Secretary David Jones this week to discuss his claim he was abused by a senior Conservative while at the Bryn Estyn home in North Wales

A stunned Mr Cameron replied: ‘Look Phillip, I think Phillip this is really important. There is a danger if we are not careful, that this can turn into a sort of witch-hunt, particularly against people who are gay.

‘I’m worried about the sort of thing you are doing right now…. giving me a list of names you have taken off the internet.

‘Anyone who has any information about anyone who is a paedophile, no matter how high up in British society they are. That is what the police are for.

‘I would say to Tom Watson and all those people who are quite rightly inquiring into all of this, if you have got information, we are a civilised democratic country under a rule of law, with a police force, with a justice system, go to the police.'

There are now a series of different investigations into historic allegations of child abuse under way, but Mr Cameron said he doubted whether a single ‘mega-inquiry’ would help get to the truth any quicker.

‘The idea that if you had one mega-inquiry that you would speed everything up, I'm not sure is true,’ he said.

‘I don't rule out taking further steps. I want the Government to be absolutely on top of this, I don't want anything to be covered up, I don't want any information to be held back, if there are more things we have to do we will do them.

‘But we always have to remember it's very easy for governments just to stand up and say 'here's a new inquiry', what we've got to do is get to the truth as fast as we possibly can.’

The Government has launched two inquiries following claims by Mr Messham that he was was regularly taken to a hotel in Wrexham where he was sold for sexual abuse - including by a senior Conservative from the Thatcher era.

Foreign Secretary William Hague, who as Welsh Secretary in John Major's government set up the original Waterhouse Inquiry into the North Wales allegations, said there must be ‘no stone left unturned’.

He told ITV News: ‘It's very, very important that we do everything possible to get to the truth about these matters. It's really of huge importance.

‘That's why I ordered an inquiry back in 1996 and I strongly support what the Home Secretary has announced this week. If there is anything more to look at, it must be looked at.

‘Really, there must be no stone left unturned in these matters. So I welcome what the Home Secretary has announced, and let's make sure that anything that can be discovered, any additional fact that can be discovered, is actually found.’

VIDEO: The astonishing moment This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield handed the Prime Minister a list of alleged Tory child abusers he found online


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