Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society, is in a dispute with the chief constable of Thames Valley Police over his allegations that police tried to stop him raising allegations in parliament about police errors in a child sex abuse case.
According to reports by The Mail on Sunday and the BBC, the MP for Reading East said that Sara Thornton, chief constable of Thames Valley Police, was one of several police officers who tried to stop him from raising questions in the House of Commons in 2008 about the case of a woman in his constituency whose child was abused by a paedophile.
Thornton denied the claim and said his accusation was "unfounded and potentially libellous". The matter has resurfaced after recent criticism of Thames Valley Police relating to the abuse of children in Oxfordshire over the past 16 years.
Wilson’s constituent, who was a carer for the two children of David Cullen, was dismayed that police had not told her that Cullen had a previous conviction for sex offences. He went on to abuse her young son 25 times in six months.
Wilson, who became an MP in 2005, is quoted as saying: "They said things like 'really, Mr Wilson? So early on in your parliamentary career? Do you want to make an error about getting involved in raising this issue? There may be more to this than meets the eye. You could be getting into a very difficult situation.'
"There were all sorts of darkly veiled threats if I went head-to-head and toe-to-toe with Thames Valley Police. I had phone calls from at least two members of Thames Valley Police who rang me up directly about this and tried to stop me raising this matter in parliament even though it was quite clearly the right thing to do."
He said: "I just wonder whether there is something systemic within the police, that where difficult, very trying types of personal cases are involved, they don't really want to get involved. I question whether there is a real appetite to get involved with those difficult cases."
Responding to the allegations, Thornton said in a statement: "I categorically deny ever making any sort of threat, veiled or otherwise, to Rob Wilson MP. Such allegations are unfounded and potentially libellous.
"I will be writing to Mr Wilson directly to seek clarification on exactly what he has alleged. I am extremely concerned that such serious allegations, relating to alleged events over six years ago, now appear to have been made via the media and not with the force directly via a formal complaint either at the time of the case in 2008 or at any point since."
Wilson spoke about the Cullen case in November 2008 during a parliamentary debate he secured on the matter. He told the Commons that he was unhappy with Thames Valley Police’s reaction to his involvement in the case.
"I usually have nothing but praise for their work, and I am one of their greatest advocates, but I was taken aback by their reaction to my involvement in the case," he said.
"I shall not go into detail, because I do not think that it would be helpful on this occasion, so all I will say is that I am here to represent my constituents without fear or favour and to ensure that their legitimate concerns are heard."
Wilson’s constituency office said it could not give any details on the case and Wilson himself could not be reached in time for Third Sector’s deadline.
Thornton will be leaving her position next month to become chair of the newly created National Police Chiefs’ Council, which will replace the Association of Chief Police Officers.