MPs from across the West Midlands are backing calls for a national inquiry into historic cases of child sex abuse.

Tom Watson (Lab West Bromwich East) and John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) are among those leading calls for the creation of an independent panel with powers to demand the release of documents from every agency involved in investigating abuse claims.

They signed a letter to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, urging her to set up “a full, properly-resourced investigation into the failure of the police to follow the evidence in a number of historical cases of child sexual abuse”.

Other MPs have not signed the letter but have indicated their support for an investigation.

They included Birmingham MP Khalid Mahmood (Lab Perry Barr) who said he was concerned that some alleged abusers had been treated as “off limits” by the police “because of their high-profile personalities and stardom.”

Birmingham MP Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak), a shadow education minister, said he backed an inquiry of some kind as long as it was timely and provided closure for victims.

The letter suggests that key evidence in child abuse cases has been lost. It says a panel must examine “why detailed dossiers – such as the documents submitted to the Home Office by the late Geoffrey Dickens – have disappeared” and why police surveillance videos “said to be of prominent people who have been involved in paedophile rings” have gone missing.

It also says that child pornography videos seized by HM Customs & Excise have been lost or destroyed and “investigations appear repeatedly to have been stalled or abandoned over the last thirty years”.

Other signatories include Green party MP Caroline Lucas and Conservative Tim Loughton, a former Schools Minister.

Mr Watson has led calls for justice for victims of historic child abuse, and stunned Commons colleagues in 2012 when he claimed that a child abuse network connected to a Midland paedophile had once reached all the way into Parliament and 10 Downing Street.

John Hemming, is Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley
John Hemming, is Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley
 

His claims involved Peter Righton, who was convicted in 1992 by magistrates in Evesham, Worcestershire, of importing and possessing pornographic material involving boys under the age of 16.

Righton, who was 66 and lived in Badsey Road, Evesham, at the time of his conviction, had developed a reputation as an academic expert in child care, and had delivered lectures on the topic in Birmingham and elsewhere.

Mr Watson told the Commons: “The evidence file used to convict paedophile Peter Righton, if it still exists, contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring.

“One of its members boasts of his links to a senior aide of a former Prime Minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad. The leads were not followed up. But if the file still exists I want to ensure that the Metropolitan Police secure the evidence, re-examine it and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and Number 10.”

Since then, separate allegations have been made about Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith, who died in 2010. The Crown Prosecution Service has said he should have been prosecuted for abuse of boys in Rochdale in the 1960s.

Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who know represents Sir Cyril’s old Rochdale seat, has written a book alleging the former MP was part of a high-level paedophile ring operating at Westminster in the 1970s.

Mr Watson has worked closely with investigative journalism website exaronews.com to push for the independent panel. He said: “There is a growing consensus among MPs of all political parties that the party leaders should agree to resource adequately searching investigations into historical allegations of child sexual abuse.

“The failure to act needs to be urgently addressed, and there is a belief that much more needs to be done to uncover what has happened in previous investigations.”