No one would have thought a week ago that Theresa May, the home secretary, would have announced today an overarching inquiry into child sexual abuse.
The odds were stacked against it for the last two years as David Cameron kept insisting that police investigations had to go first before there could be any inquiry.
Today it all changed. and it was discovered that it was perfectly possible to have both an all embracing independent inquiry and complete the current police investigations at the same time.
The reason why this changed is a combination of persistent journalism, determined abuse victims and their campaigners and a group of very, very determined MPs who put pressure on the Prime Minister and the Home secretary to act.
The biggest victors today are the child abuse victims – whose stories have been ignored, their suffering played down, and their search for justice thwarted for decades.
Now they will have – even if it takes a couple of years to complete – the promise of a tough, vigilant independent panel that will explore all avenues from the failure to detect these scandals to how victims can get proper help to cope with their damaged lives. If it uses its power to abstract information from the security services and special branch we may well get to the bottom of why prominent people were protected and were safe for decades to practice their vile pursuits..
Rumours suggest that Theresa May wants to appoint a powerful woman to run the inquiry which would send a powerful signal to male dominated Whitehall and Parliament that it means business.
Credit must be paid to hundreds of Twitter followers of Exaro and myself who raised questions with MPs – a powerful use of new media to change minds and bring attention directly to the people involved./ Without Twitter it would have been much slower and more difficult to achieve the goal.
Tribute must be paid to some tireless MP campaigners – to Zac Goldsmith for the idea of all party approach, to Tom Watson for his gutsy raising of difficult questions and championing abuse victims, to Simon Danczuk for his persistence in pursuing the paedophile Sir Cyril Smith and to the heroic former children’s minister, Tim Loughton, for his organising skills and determination to seek justice and a new system of child protection that could change the climate in this country. Tessa Munt’s skills in honing the letter to the home secretary was crucial in pushing through the case.
For once I would say the good side of Parliament has triumphed in representing the views of an outraged public who are still reeling from the exposure of loved household celebrities as paedophiles and wanted to see things changed.
Also I hope when journalism has suffered grievous damage from the phone hacking scandal it has shown that there are investigative journalists – all my colleagues at Exaro – who are prepared to spend time, energy and fortitude to try and expose accurately and carefully a national scandal and then campaign to get something done. I wish more journalists would do it.