Crunch week for the Child Sex Abuse inquiry

fiona woolf, new chair of the CSA inquiry; pic credit: www.fionawoolf.com

fiona woolf, new chair of the CSA inquiry; pic credit: http://www.fionawoolf.com

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.

4 thoughts on “Crunch week for the Child Sex Abuse inquiry

  1. So Ms Woolf is going to have access to IS files. How many? How much redacted? How does she know if all is being made available to her? Will she personally read all? For arguement sake say Leon Brittain figures in the IS files made available to her and her team, well he probably would, he was a Minister of the time, would Ms Woolf as his personal friend and an associate excuse herself from the enquiry? Where would that leave any such enquiry? Third time lucky? I say this because taking another scenario: David you are up in court – lets say for interfering with a Police investigation! As you enter the dock you recognise the Judge as a person you play golf with. Would it be correct for the same Judge to continue with your case or should he excuse himself? What do you think?
    A final question – why did the Home Sec. not appoint a non-British establisment figure to head the enquiry in order to ‘make it bullet proof’? There has been a precedent for bringing in an outsider to examine and lead investigations ie the Canadian General John de Chastelain re NI. Surely a person of equal expertise can be found outside the British establishment? Surely the victims both historical and of the future deserve that.

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