The future direction of the overarching inquiry into child sexual abuse announced by Theresa May, the home secretary, should become clearer next week.
I understand from more than one source that Fiona Woolf, the new chairman and Lord Mayor of London, is likely to make a statement setting out exactly what her connection is with her near neighbours Leon and Diana Brittan following criticism about them by Simon Danczuk, one of the MPs who backed the need for an inquiry , and survivors alarmed at another cover- up at Westminster.
As I write in Exaro today she has been under fire from the Mail on Sunday about her links mainly with Leon’s wife Diana, whom she also served under for three years as a magistrate in the City of London. The Mail on Sunday is expected to return to the fray tomorrow.
Her appointment has been defended by one of the key members and a survivor himself, Graham Wilmer. As he told Exaro;
“I think that she is the right person for the job. We need someone who is not involved in the issues of child sex abuse who can apply a legal mind to a very complex and wide-ranging inquiry.
“I have been on too many inquiries entirely composed of experts on child sex abuse who spend their time arguing and do not come to a conclusion.”
Tom Watson has also backed an inquiry going ahead despite misgivings from survivors about Fiona WEoolf’s connection with the Brittans. His blog explains.
But Simon Danczuk is still pursuing the issue.
He challenged William Hague, now leader of the House, in Parliament on Thursday demanding a debate.
He told him :“Although I am anxious for the inquiry to be got up and running, I am disturbed by the apparent links between the new chair and Lord Brittan, who is alleged to be at the heart of the paedophile scandal and cover-up surrounding Westminster.”
Mr Hague defended her: “She is a very distinguished person, who is well able to conduct the inquiry to the very highest standards of integrity.
“The government is therefore confident that she has the skills and experience needed to set the direction of the inquiry, lead the work of the panel, challenge individuals and institutions without fear or favour, really get into this issue and stop these terrible things happening again. I think that we should support her in doing this work.”
At present the Lord Mayor is abroad in Africa. You could find out all about her on her website.
She has a full programme of business trips for the City of London. You can find out about them here She is in Africa until September 18, goes to Latvia from September 21-24 and to China and Vietnam from October 5- 15.
How the inquiry develops will depend on Fiona Woolf’s response to the allegations, who else is appointed to the committee and its terms of reference. Hopefully all will be revealed by the end of next week.