After the complete debacle over the rushed appointment and swift resignation of Baroness Butler-Sloss to head the overarching inquiry into child sex abuse, Theresa May met six of the ” Magnificent” seven MPs again.
An account taken from a couple of them appears on the Exaro site today suggests that the Home Office has now reverted to the way it has followed in setting up all other independent panels, including the Daniel Morgan and Gosport hospital inquiries which means consulting people before appointing people.
From my own sources I always thought Theresa May was rushed into making a decision by a Downing Street panicked by newspaper headlines.
The good news is that the six MPs were unanimous that a survivor MUST sit on the panel and the home secretary was open to names. It was also clear that the government will not be rushed again to announce a new chair of the inquiry. MPs also stressed the need for proper help for victims
As important will be the terms of reference for the inquiry, how the inquiry gathers evidence, how far it can investigate and whether the police and the security services get immunity in passing over information.
Here the Home Office will have to do some hard thinking to make sure that the inquiry panel; must be both seen to act without fear or favour or people will lose confidence in its ability to get to the real facts.
It must be able to go anywhere and tackle the issues in places where there are still secrets like Jersey and Northern Ireland.
It must not just be a lessons learned exercise from previous work – even though that is all-encompassing in itself – given the large number of inquiries and police investigations.
This is a once in a lifetime chance to sort out the sordid history of child sexual abuse in the United Kingdom and make recommendations – from the investigation of the scandals to proper after care for survivors. The government – and any future government after 2015 – must not blow it this time.