Fact Check

Did Theresa May Say Pedophiles Should Be Allowed to Adopt Children?

A notorious junk news site twisted a news story from 2010.

Published Jan. 18, 2019

 (Flickr/Number 10)
Image Via Flickr/Number 10
British Prime Minister Theresa May said pedophiles should be allowed to adopt children.

On 5 August 2018, the junk news site Neon Nettle falsely reported that British Prime Minister Theresa May had argued that pedophiles should be allowed to adopt children under the headline, "British PM Theresa May: Pedophiles Should Be Allowed to Adopt Children Too." The story began recirculating in mid-January 2019 amid news that May's Brexit plans had failed in Parliament.

Neon Nettle reported that, "With Theresa May on shaky ground as the current Conservative leader and British Prime Minister, details of an executive order she made that would give more rights to child abusers, has come to light. May had ordered a review of current legislation that would prevent pedophiles from adopting children claiming that it was a 'breach of their human rights.'"

As with everything published by Neon Nettle, the story should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism, and with good reason — it is not true. The story is a twisted version of a 2010 news report in The Telegraph, a British publication, that reported a reader in law at the London School of Economics had called on May, then the Home Secretary, to "relax rules which automatically ban sex offenders from caring for children, saying that this could breach their human rights."

The Telegraph reported that May had ordered a review of the Vetting and Barring Scheme, a system of doing background checks and registering people who work with children and vulnerable adults. The review was ordered "amid concerns about the vetting of ordinary volunteers such as parents who drive children to football practice and church flower arrangers."

However in that same article, a spokesman for May stated that she would not consider allowing pedophiles to adopt children, saying, "It is safe to say that the vetting review will not be considering allowing paedophiles to adopt. It wouldn’t exactly go down well with the public."


Greenberg, Jay.   "British PM Theresa May: Pedophiles Should Be Allowed To Adopt Children Too."    Neon Nettle.   5 August 2018.

Prince, Rosa. "Sex Offenders Including Paedophiles Should Be Allowed to Adopt, Theresa May Told."   The Telegraph. 15 December 2010.

Tominey, Camilla. "How Downing Street Calculated 228-Vote Defeat ... but Theresa May Is Determined to Plough On Regardless."   The Telegraph. 18 January 2019.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who has been working in the news industry since 2006.