PM: I’ll appoint ‘senior figure’ to head Tory paedophile investigation

David Cameron buckled to demands for an investigation concerning claims a senior Conservative was involved in a paedophile ring today.

Under pressure from repeated allegations about the ring – which is reported to have operated in north Wales in the 1970s and 1980s and involved senior figures from the establishment – the prime minister agreed to appoint a "senior independent figure" to head the investigation.

"These allegations are absolutely dreadful and they mustn't be left hanging in the air," he said.

"I'm going to be asking a senior independent figure to lead an urgent investigation into whether the original inquiry was properly constituted and properly did its job and to report urgently to the government."

The inquiry will not be into the claims per se, but rather whether the inquiry into the claims was properly correctly. A second inquiry will look into the police investigation.

The prime minister's spokesman said he was taking a "close interest" in the allegations.

Labour MP Tom Watson, who first raised the allegations during PMQs two weeks ago, demanded the prime minister order a special police investigation outside the affected forces.

"If what you really want – and I believe that it is – is the truth, then you must draw the terms of reference such that the police inquiry has licence to follow any lead it finds in what will be, after all, a serious criminal investigation," he said in a letter to the prime minster.

"Your advisers will tell you to be wary of 'opening the floodgates'. They are wrong. Their decorous caution is the friend of the paedophile.

"Narrowing the inquiry equals hiding the truth. That is the reality and it is not what you want."

Today's announcements suggest Downing Street is now taking the abuse allegations with utmost seriousness, after a growing swell of allegations came to light.

"You were just sexually abused. Drink would be involved. It was basically rape, but it wasn't just him. There would be other people involved as well," Steve Messham, a victim of sexual abuse, told BBC2's Newsnight programme.

"I was taken to him by a carer. Cars would pull up outside the home and you were taken. There's be a Porsche, there's be a Jag, and you were taken."

David Jones, the Welsh secretary, will be meeting Messham to discuss the allegations further.

Children's commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, has called for a fresh inquiry to investigate what took place. A probe published in 2000 uncovered appalling abuse at Bryn Estyn, a care home for boys, and at about 40 other care homes.

It referred to an important public figure but did not investigate further.

An initial investigation into allegations of abuse in the early 1990s by Clwyd county council ended up being pulped by the local authority.