Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: A little step in the right direction

New Zealand dame Justice Lowell Goddard pic credit: http://www.teara.govt.nz/

New Zealand dame Justice Lowell Goddard pic credit: http://www.teara.govt.nz/

Today’s announcement by Theresa May, the home secretary, and Justice Lowell Goddard, the New Zealand judge, heading the  child sex abuse inquiry, on the structure of the inquiry shows at least that both of them have listened to MPs on the Commons  Home Affairs Select Committee.

The welcome news is that both have realised that there needs to be some continuity on the new panel of the inquiry and that  it was not a good idea to throw everybody off the inquiry except for its QC, Ben Emmerson.

Particularly welcome is the promotion of Alexis Jay, who did so much to expose the appalling grooming scandal in Rotherham, to a panel member. Her voice and contribution to its work will be invaluable.

Also the reappointment of Dru Sharpling, one of the sharper minds, I am told,  on the Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary, is a good one – someone with knowledge of child sex abuse and dealing with the Official Secrets Act.

The third re-appointment,another barrister, Ivor Frank, I will reserve judgement as his speciality seems to be more in the field of child abduction rather than child sexual abuse.

While the appointment of Professor Malcolm Evans , appears to duplicate a rather crowded United Nations presence – since the chair, the QC  himself are all connected to UN human rights and torture issues.

As expected survivors will have no role to play in writing the report or the detailed hearings. Justice Goddard makes it clear she was doesn’t want them present at the inner workings of the inquiry – taking a view often expressed by lawyers  ( including those who defend paedophiles) that anyone who has been sexually abused is biased,can’t be objective about anything and can’t come to any independent conclusions.

She puts a bit more politely in her statement: “ the appointment of victims or survivors to the panel will not, in my view, be consistent with the objectivity, independence and impartiality that is required of members of an independent panel who are required to act in a quasi-judicial capacity in the course of the Inquiry. Secondly, because it became clear to me during my consultations with representatives of victims and survivors groups that they reflect a wide range of divergent experiences and views. “

Instead she proposes two advisory committees.

“I have decided instead to establish a Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel (VSCP) which will be closely involved in the work of the Inquiry and will provide advice and guidance to myself and the panel as the Inquiry proceeds. There will be eight members of the VSCP, nominated by victims and survivors, who will bring a representative cross-section of experience and opinion. The VSCP will be funded out of the Inquiry’s overall budget and those appointed to the VSCP will receive an honorarium for their contribution to the work of the Inquiry and will be entitled to reimbursement of travel and other expenses.”

The good thing is that she has listened to MPs about the advisory body having funding and a role -but I am to be convinced that they will have a real say. On top of this there appears to be an  “also ran ” category- people who self select themselves to be involved if they fail to meet the criteria to sit on the main advisory board.

She has  not fleshed out exactly how this is going to work – and  the person who should have handled press inquiries had left her telephone on answer- so no guidance was available. Hardly very transparent.

The good  thing is Theresa May has avoided the pitfall of leaving the inquiry in limbo- and got this announcement out in time before election purdah comes into play. But I shall remain sceptical – given the mess surrounding the creation of this inquiry – until more information is released.

30 thoughts on “Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: A little step in the right direction

  1. More of a slip on a seaweed covered RNLI launch slip I think. Very disappointed and distressed by obvious planned players being secured in place. Ah well life goes on, but not for all survivors.

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  2. David are you really sure this is a step in right direction?
    A judge with dodgy connections in high places
    Some barristers with with little to no experience in child protection
    And a sort of social worker connected to Govt dept that was looked at for funding PIE.
    Seems to me you are easily pleased or easily fooled

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    • Bob
      Said just a SMALL step in right direction -pleased about Alexis Jay and Dru – but as you can see sceptical about the role of survivors and positively critical of the attitude of Goddard towards them.

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      • Then david you have more confidence than the rest of us. I see the same old same old establishment clones

        Is it remotely possible that Home Sec can think outside westminsterland bunch of cronies?

        Why not Dr Davies? Most people keep asking that question I gather she got turned down.
        Hmm probably doesn’t have a set of racing horses or belong to the same club
        as Whitehall chums

        Stitch up seen it all before result guarantee. Nothing to see

        You could write a script for this

        Oh wait
        .

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    • By the way. You do realise number ten always sets out the results it wants?

      Kincorra enquiry made that very clear. ” make it go away stop these nasty things being said. ” that was their game and that was the result they got

      There you go

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  3. Pingback: Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: A little step in the right direction – David Hencke | Vox Political

  4. i think this sounds promising and am delighted Alexis jay is included. i asked for her to be included last year. Interesting question of survivors being biassed. We’re all biassed in some ways and it suggests the old adage that our historical scars stay for ever, – whereas we know we have to work through significant traumas these days to reclaim our lives..

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  5. I’m assuming that Inquiry panel members can’t/don’t make their own presentations to the inquiry? I could be wrong about that, but if that is correct then I wouldn’t want to see Liz Davies on the panel – because I really want her to make a full presentation about everything she believes that she knows. I suspect she has something important to say, but even in her PHd thesis she is frustratingly vague. I’d like to hear more detail about her “61 boy victims”. I’d like to know if they are among the Met’s shocking claim of 200 unaccounted for young boys from the period of 1975-1990. If boys who left care homes and never returned were simply written off as presumed runaways, with no effort to trace them, that would be a disgraceful failure of duty to care. I’d like to hear more about the misbegotten “inclusiveness” policies of Islington council that led to self-professed “boy-lover” pederasts, rather than gay men, being hired as front-line staff. I’d like to know if such mistaken policies affected other government/ public agencies. What about police agencies of the 1975-1985 period? How did Richmond CDI of late 1970s – early 1980s end up with two undercover “officers” in their twenties that – according to Lee Towsey – weren’t at all troubled to engage in a menage-a-troi with an underaged male while on assignment in EGH? Were they selected for their ability to pass as a typical gay couple, or for their ability to pass for Cyril Smith-esque perverts? This is of particular importance to me, because the alleged witness to the abduction of Martin Allen described a scenario that – while being consistent with seing and hearing a boy with his abductor – is equally consistent with the boy believing he was under arrest and in the custody of an off-duty or undercover police officer (“don’t try to run”). Then there is the anonymous call to Vishal Mehrotra’s father, from a man in his twenties (in his twenties!, again) who claimed to be a rentboy and tried to implicate EGH in Mehrotra’s abduction & death. The Mirror recently quoted journalists of the day stating that they tried to recruit rentboys as undercover operatives to spy on EGH activities, but was that idea also employed by police? Were young men, of unknown backgrounds, who were veterans of or involved in the child sex trade, recruited as undercover operatives – and did that end up inadvertently empowering child sex abusers who might have found EGH a convenient scapegoat for their own crimes against children?

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  6. I make no claim to knowing what happened to Martin Allen or Vishal Mehrotra, nor do I claim to know who was or was not involved in their presumed abductions. I’ve only noted, as did journalists writing about the case years ago, that what the 20-year-old witness described could fit a boy falsely believing he was under arrest just as well as a boy who knew he was being abducted. And that makes me even more suspicious about rentboys in their twenties, or any other improperly screened young men, being empowered by the status of “undercover police operative”.

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    • Well you must be the only person who knows about a witness making that claim because no one else does

      Was it in a newspaper or did you meet the witness or you thought just it up?

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  7. Whatever happened to my little brother was illegal,and he was either abducted to order,or sold on ! to these sick animals ! Justin Sanity if you know something come forward as I’m not exactly sure of what you are saying.
    Martin was taken by some blonde guy in a denim outfit,the so called witness of which there was 2 of, one outside Gloucester rd station where the guy was seen holding martin and the second was either on the tube train between G,road and Earls Court saying (don’t try to run) and or seen outside of Earls court stn with his hand on the back of Martins neck! OP/Midland relayed to me 3 weeks ago that they had found the witness and he still sticks to his story!
    Thanks bob for this info!

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    • Justin Sanity – If you genuinely have information and are not just speculating from newspaper reports you should get in touch with Operation Midland as this tragic event is part of a wider investigation.

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    • Kevin, you’ve been excellent on the news. When you said you wanted the perpetrators to get what’s coming to them, I bet every right-thinking person in Britain stood up and cheered. I sure did. That man in the witness photo with your brother is well-groomed, his hair, his clothes, he is ‘Somebody’, not just some opportunist off the street. I agree with you, your brother has fallen prey to these sadistic animals and one day this is going to come out. God bless you, Kevin, I’m 110% behind you.

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      • Thanks Liz! As the saying go’s “Revenge is a dish best served cold” and boy these people will find there sentence very cold and if and when i end up i court with the beast’s of Westminster cowering like lambs to the slaughter they are going to get a mouthful from me with some words they have never of heard in there lives,i hope they all die of illnesses most horrid if Ebola could be given i would watch then melt from inside to out! then leave them to the dogs, no sorry couldn’t be that cruel to a dog maybe pigs! …….hehehehe just saying! thanks again I’m just a normal(ish) working bloke that some rotten bastard took away the best years of martin and myself’s youth the years in which we would have been exploring clubs footie matches, the young ladys,passing our driving tests and adventures that most near aged brothers and sisters would have. if fact they have taken 35yr of both of our lives ! I have basically put 35yrs in to work and only had one job since martin vanished apart from a couple of years when i was a Gov driver 93-95 and driving ministers around of which my nemesis was unknowingly in my car LB if i had known then he wouldn’t have reached his destination thats for sure!
        KevA

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      • @Kevin totally understand what it’s been like for you. As I say we won’t stop till we have nailed the people responsible for martin and all the other lads and lasses

        We will get there. I promise

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      • (Or another driver who ferried boys around so knew exactly what to do when he saw him alone that day?)

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      • possible, But no one knew Martin as well as me he would nt ever had got in a car with someone else even if t was one of the Aus house drivers who we knew fairly well never!,

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  8. As I said, I’m not claiming to know what happened to Martin Allen or Vishal Mehrotra. I might have my own opinions about those cases, but because I have respect for child victims and their families, I would of course defer to surviving family members as the definitive authority on those cases. Kevin Allen seems to be speaking for his family, and Vishal’s father is still speaking for his – their opinions on these cases are of importance and mine would not be. Nevertheless, there are certain questions that I’m compelled to pose. I’m compelled to pose questions that, as far as I can tell, no one else has – because one of the problems that we all hope to change about the way our society deals with issues like CSA, is that some questions could never be publicly aired. This has nothing to do with challenging victim family member’s statements about their loved one’s case and shouldn’t be taken that way.

    I don’t know what Bob is talking about. What I said, was that journalists had suggested the witness accounts weren’t incompatible with a boy falsely believing he was under arrest. Example, a very thorough article in Illustrated London News, Nov. 29, 1980, “A Boy Who Disappeared”: “If it was Martin, why didn’t he appeal to others on the train or on the platform…it could be that he [the abductor] persuaded Martin that he was someone in authority, a London Transport security officer or a policeman, and that he was taking him to an office near the station for some misdemeanor”. The witness whose account included overhearing the man say: “don’t try to run” – which is something we’d expect an abductor to say to his victim, but also something we might expect to hear a police officer say to a juvenile suspect, (or a boy who believed he might be one) – is the 20 year old quoted in The Guardian, 15 April, 1980, “Among The Missing”.

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