The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

I tell you when I took the decision to do something about it was years earlier, when I was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, I was given a file at the end of which was a form I was asked to sign to release a paedophile murderer who had murdered an 8-year-old girl in circumstances that I won't put before this inquiry, but are still very alive in my mind. And he was to be released back into the community, indeed I think the very area where that young victim's mother and sisters lived, and I argued for days -- and this is years before 2006 -- I argued for days with my officials saying, "I will not sign this release", and I was told I legally had to sign the release.

I then said I wouldn't sign it because I hadn't made the decision, I had no power to make the decision, I won't take the responsibility of releasing this man back into the community because I knew what he had done and it was awful, too awful to describe.

Eventually, I had to sign it, under the law, and from that time I had resolved that I would do what I could to protect potential victims of child abuse of that nature if I was ever in a position to do it.

When I came to the Home Office, I was aware that there were measures that would try to prohibit paedophiles gaining access to youth groups, to Scouts, schools and to other groups, but there was no such protection for single mothers with a family who were very often the target of predatory paedophiles who ingratiated themselves with the mother.

So my mind was made up before I entered the Home Office. The fact that any other group, any person like Sarah Payne or any other newspaper had reached the same conclusion was not a matter of convenience, I'm sure, in either party, but a matter of belief.

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