Former children's minister Tim Loughton. Photo: YouTube screengrab
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Former children's minister: "I'll name and shame Commons paedophiles"

Tim Loughton MP is threatening to name past high-profile “suspected paedophiles” in the Commons unless the government launches a full inquiry into historic MP sex abuse cases.

The former children’s minister Tim Loughton is considering using parliamentary privilege – immunity from legal action for a politician speaking in parliament – to “name and shame” high-profile past members of parliament suspected to be paedophiles.

Loughton, writing in the Daily Mail, is responding to the government’s decision not to implement an over-arching inquiry into the historical allegations of a paedophile ring operating in Westminster in the Eighties. A dossier containing the details of the allegations passed on to the then home secretary Leon Brittan has been lost – a revelation about which Loughton says he’s “gravely concerned”.

Both No 10 and the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have voiced their belief that it’s best for the police to pursue these fresh inquiries, rather than launching a full inquiry into the alleged past ring of MP paedophiles. Clegg has said the police are in the “best position” to deal with the allegations, rather than the government calling an inquiry.

He added:

My view is, given the very serious criminal nature of these allegations, namely that there was a circle of people who hid what they were doing… abusing vulnerable children in children's homes, the only way to deliver justice, even in the years afterwards, is allow the police to get to the bottom of these things.

A spokesperson for the PM said: “If there are allegations or evidence then people should bring them forward to the appropriate authorities… We are saying very clearly that where there is wrong-doing it is absolutely right it should be the police who look into these matters.”

But Loughton, the Labour MP Simon Danczuk who has been at the forefront of fighting for these investigations, and 130 MPs who have been backing Danczuk's call for a “Hillsborough-style” inquiry, will be disappointed by this response.

The Home Office has until Monday to account for the missing dossier under the instruction of home affairs select committee chair Keith Vaz MP. With this development in sight, and Loughton’s threat to name names, it looks like this story – which has so far remained relatively under the radar – will be significantly bigger next week.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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The economics of outrage: Why you haven't seen the end of Katie Hopkins

Her distasteful tweet may have cost her a job at LBC, but this isn't the last we've seen of Britain's biggest troll. 

Another atrocity, other surge of grief and fear, and there like clockwork was the UK’s biggest troll. Hours after the explosion at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 mostly young and female concert goers, Katie Hopkins weighed in with a very on-brand tweet calling for a “final solution” to the complex issue of terrorism.

She quickly deleted it, replacing the offending phrase with the words “true solution”, but did not tone down the essentially fascist message. Few thought it had been an innocent mistake on the part of someone unaware of the historical connotations of those two words.  And no matter how many urged their fellow web users not to give Hopkins the attention she craved, it still sparked angry tweets, condemnatory news articles and even reports to the police.

Hopkins has lost her presenting job at LBC radio, but she is yet to lose her column at Mail Online, and it’s quite likely she won’t.

Mail Online and its print counterpart The Daily Mail have regularly shown they are prepared to go down the deliberately divisive path Hopkins was signposting. But even if the site's managing editor Martin Clarke was secretly a liberal sandal-wearer, there are also very good economic reasons for Mail Online to stick with her. The extreme and outrageous is great at gaining attention, and attention is what makes money for Mail Online.

It is ironic that Hopkins’s career was initially helped by TV’s attempts to provide balance. Producers could rely on her to provide a counterweight to even the most committed and rational bleeding-heart liberal.

As Patrick Smith, a former media specialist who is currently a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News points out: “It’s very difficult for producers who are legally bound to be balanced, they will sometimes literally have lawyers in the room.”

“That in a way is why some people who are skirting very close or beyond the bounds of taste and decency get on air.”

But while TV may have made Hopkins, it is online where her extreme views perform best.  As digital publishers have learned, the best way to get the shares, clicks and page views that make them money is to provoke an emotional response. And there are few things as good at provoking an emotional response as extreme and outrageous political views.

And in many ways it doesn’t matter whether that response is negative or positive. Those who complain about what Hopkins says are also the ones who draw attention to it – many will read what she writes in order to know exactly why they should hate her.

Of course using outrageous views as a sales tactic is not confined to the web – The Daily Mail prints columns by Sarah Vine for a reason - but the risks of pushing the boundaries of taste and decency are greater in a linear, analogue world. Cancelling a newspaper subscription or changing radio station is a simpler and often longer-lasting act than pledging to never click on a tempting link on Twitter or Facebook. LBC may have had far more to lose from sticking with Hopkins than Mail Online does, and much less to gain. Someone prepared to say what Hopkins says will not be out of work for long. 

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