An inquiry into an inquiry: Will it uncover what went wrong when Ben Emmerson quit the Child Sexual Abuse inquiry?

ben emmerson

Ben Emmerson: He resigned as leading counsel from the inquiry last September Pic Credit: UN

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

The rather bland announcement from Alexis Jay, chair of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse that she had appointed an employment judge Mark Sutton to investigate dignity at work  and safeguarding inside the inquiry poses more questions than answers.

It followed ferocious  criticism from the Commons Home Affairs Committee after the rather lurid – and now said to be untrue – tale that its leading counsel. Ben Emmerson, had sexually assaulted a woman on the inquiry’s premises.

The report concluded: “It is not for us to pass any comment on the allegations made in the media about the former Counsel to the Inquiry, which he has categorically denied. We are not in a position, and it is certainly not our responsibility, to assess either the facts of the case or the details of the processes that the Inquiry pursued.

However, on the basis of the evidence we have seen, we do not believe that IICSA has taken seriously enough its responsibility to pursue allegations of bullying or disclosures of sexual assault within the Inquiry.”

It goes on:

“Nor do we believe it has done enough to demonstrate publicly that it has a robust approach to such matters. IICSA’s public response has been inadequate, and the words attributed to an unidentified “IICSA source” in the press in response to the alleged assault are completely inappropriate, appearing to dismiss the serious nature of the matter and the credibility of the alleged victim.

“One of the Inquiry’s key purposes is to assess other organisations’ procedures for dealing with disclosures of sexual assault or abuses of power, and institutional reluctance to confront difficult issues that might jeopardise their reputation. We therefore believe that it is extremely important that the Inquiry can show that it treats these issues with appropriate rigour when they affect IICSA itself.”

 The reason for these strong words followed evidence from Hugh Davies QC, who resigned as Deputy Counsel to IICSA in December 2015, He made it clear he was unhappy with the procedures for handling such instances.  He said:“the institution cannot abdicate responsibility to the person making the disclosure, who may be vulnerable or otherwise emotionally unable to pursue a formal process”.

Also significantly the report says : “We also received a confidential submission relating to this alleged incident. Although it is not appropriate for us to publish this evidence, it has helped us to understand the incident and the way in which IICSA dealt with it. We are very grateful to the individual concerned for providing us with this information.”

How IICSA handles this will be crucial and it must not be seen to bury it. Its instructions to Mark Sutton say:

“You are requested to examine the events surrounding the Counsel to the Inquiry’s resignation from the Inquiry and to advise on the appropriateness, in the given circumstances, of the Inquiry’s actions at that time.
If you find evidence that there are structural challenges in HR / employment matters that arise due to the legal status of public inquiries and their employment model of seconded staff, self employed individuals and contractors, the Inquiry would welcome your Review making broader recommendations or observations.”

 He will not rerun or second guess the actual incident nor will he publish his advice to the inquiry. And the inquiry will see his report  before any statement is published.

I have also learnt separately that Graham Wilmer, a member of the original panel before it became a public inquiry, wants Mark Sutton, to look at the involvement  of Mr Emmerson in a  campaign conducted by members of the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel to undermine him and the Lantern Project, which helped survivors in  the Wirral, North Wales and the North West. He has passed documentary evidence to the inquiry. Given that Mr Wilmer was a member of the first independent panel one would expect ” dignity at work ” to apply to their dealings with him.

My concern – given there have been other allegations of  bullying dating back to when Dame Lowell Goddard was in charge – is the inquiry may not do enough to allay fears and suspicions among staff working there.

If that happens people will not be satisfied. You can’t have an inquiry examining the most sensitive allegations of historical child sexual abuse which have been hidden for decades through the abuse of power  if it can’t handle sensitive allegations about its own staff.

We don’t want yet another cover up in this already troubled inquiry.

Job Half Done: Alexis Jay’s statement on the future of the Child Sexual Abuse inquiry

Alexis Jay at the Rotherham inquiry Pic credit BBC

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

The statement by Alexis Jay, the chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse,  should be welcomed as an important step in the right direction.

It makes it very clear to the naysayers – from Harvey Proctor to The Sun newspaper – that the inquiry is not to be wound up and will continue and examine events covered up in the past. She could not be clearer.

“I disagree with those who say we should not consider what happened in the past. This is a necessary part of our work. Lessons have to be learnt from institutional failures and any cover-ups which have come to light, and only in this way can we look to the future with confidence. I have to say that I regard calls for us to forget the past with a high degree of scepticism, not least because some institutions may have the most to hide and a vested interest in not turning a spotlight on what happened in the past.”

She also believes the terms of reference are deliverable possibly within five years by 2020. So it will not drag its feet for over a decade.

But for me the most interesting part of her statement – and why it is particularly important – is the context she lays down for the future of the inquiry  She is moving away from a heavily legally dominated inquiry which would have dramatic hearings – which lawyers love – to a more rounded approach that it should have had in the first place.

This paragraph is the crucial one:

We need a clear focus on the truly big changes required across institutions in England and Wales. This ensures that our findings and recommendations are widely relevant and that no institution can avoid the reach of this Inquiry. To do this, we will align the elements of this Inquiry across four major themes:

a. Cultural – examining the attitudes, behaviours and values within institutions which prevent us from stopping child sexual abuse;

b. Structural – examining the legislative, governance and organisational frameworks in place, both within and between institutions;

c. Financial – examining the financial, funding and resource arrangements for relevant institutions and services; and

d. Professional and political – examining the leadership, professional and practice issues for those working or volunteering in relevant institutions.

To my mind this is providing a structure for future investigations and putting a much greater emphasis on changing how society views child sexual abuse and how we are going to fund a much better service  to help survivors and become aware of what a big problem child sexual abuse is in this country.

This comes as Simon Bailey, Norfolk’s chief constable who is co-ordinating current police investigations through Operation Hydrant, has said that as a conservative figure there are 100,000 people viewing child sexual abuse images in England and Wales. If that is not a wake up call to the scale of the problem what is.

It also chimes in with the admission from Margaret Hodge in her book Called to Account on how naive she was in the 1980s not believing that  Islington child  sexual abuse was rife because her officials and the police told her it was not true. She admits her biggest failing was not to talk to the victims and survivors at the time.

Why I say the job is half done – is that we do not know whether all the individual inquiries – from Greville Janner  to Westminster and the Church of England will go ahead  as planned.

Given following Ben Emmerson’s resignation she has no  counsel to the inquiry that is not surprising. But I would suspect that these inquiries will have to be narrowed in  scope to prevent the process being overwhelmed. It will require some very judicial decision making to decide which cases will need to be emphasised.

However survivors like Andi Lavery are totally wrong headed to call for her resignation. He does not represent the views of all survivors and it is not even clear whether he has even consulted them before demanding such action.

Her appointment has taken the direction of the inquiry away from just a series of legal type trials to a proper, well rounded scrutiny of the toxic issue of child sexual abuse. And  her role should be welcomed not denigrated.

 

 

 

 

 

Alexis Jay: A game changer appointment for the Child Sex Abuse Inquiry?

 

Alexis Jay at the Rotherham inquiry Pic credit BBC

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

The very fast decision by Amber Rudd, the home secretary, and Theresa May, to appoint Alexis Jay, as the new chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is a very positive move.

After three attempts to appoint leading lawyers  to run the inquiry have all failed, it was a breath of fresh air to decide that a non lawyer could take on the job. Amber Rudd used powers under the Inquiries Act to appoint an existing member of the inquiry to take over the job.

The appointment  shows ministers are thinking ” out of the box” after running into problems – two caused by perceived conflict of interest – over the three previous chairs, Dame Fiona Woolf, Baroness Butler-Sloss and Dame Lowell Goddard.

I fully expected  politicians to try and get another lawyer to run the inquiry – because of the legal minefield surrounding  child sex abuse claims – but I am glad they didn’t.

Indeed it is a shame they did not think of appointing Alexis Jay in the first place to counteract the legal dominance of the inquiry.

Alexis Jay will bring a more human face to the inquiry and will have empathy for the traumas facing child sex abuse survivors. As a former social worker she may at last take seriously the problems of support for survivors – which should be one of the mainstream concerns of the inquiry  and has been sadly lacking until now.

But there are also other big advantages.

Her appointment means there will continuity and the Amber Rudd’s commitment to the inquiry couldn’t be clearer.

As Amber Rudd said:

Let there be no doubt; our commitment to this inquiry is undiminished. We owe it to victims and survivors to confront the appalling reality of how children were let down by the very people who were charged to protect them and to learn from the mistakes of the past.

Any new person coming to chair the inquiry would have needed time and space to read into events and there would have been an inevitable delay to further progress. This will not happen now.

It also means that the driving force of the future inquiry will not be a lawyer – which is my view is a good thing and puts it closer to the model adopted by independent panels.

Hillsborough for example was not chaired by a judge – and its impact on raising issues such as the  re-opening of the inquest into the deaths of the Liverpool football fans – has been enormous.

She  also has enormous experience in the issues of child sex abuse – and contrary to issues raised by survivor  Andi Lavery – there seems to be little potential for conflicts of interest.

Her letter to Amber Rudd dealing with  conflicts of interest also reveals  the breadth of her knowledge of the issue. As well as her inquiry into the appalling sexual abuse scandal in Rotherham  she had done similar work investigating child sexual abuse cases in Scotland.

As chief inspector for social work  in Scotland from 2005 to 2011 she investigated child sex abuse under the direction of ministers and  also took  a wider role in advising ministers on social work policy. As Scotland is outside the terms of reference of the inquiry, there is no conflict of interest here.

So what is the downside. She will need a lot of legal advice on how to handle some of the most difficult cases of child sex abuse -I am thinking of the judicial challenge to the investigation into Greville Janner – as the most pressing example. In a way this will enhance the role of Ben Emmerson, the inquiry’s QC and his team, as they will be crucial in defending the role of the inquiry to investigate this.

Secondly she may have to take some hard decisions about what to pursue and what to decline to investigate because of the massive amount of paperwork from the 13 streams they are already investigating. Otherwise it will become unwieldy.

I still  think the panel as whole is unbalanced in one respect – it has no dedicated investigator to cross all disciplines. The decision to drop having a journalist – Sharon Evans was the chosen person but it fell apart- on the panel was a bad idea. Lawyers are brilliant when they have got all the facts and can cross examine people about them – but they are not natural investigators and do not have the journalist’s mind to think ” out of the box”and make  connections.

I am not making a bid for myself – I am already on one national independent panel inquiry – but I think the issue should be re-examined and they should attach an investigative journalist to the inquiry.

Otherwise at this stage one can only wish Alexis Jay well in her new and demanding job.

A very legal coup:How Theresa May’s triumph meant Lowell Goddard’s demise

Theresa May

Theresa May,  then home secretary,  now prime minister.Pic Credit: conservatives.com

Unexpected political events can have unforeseen circumstances. The surprise coronation of Theresa May as Britain’s Prime Minister is one of them. Winning power because of Cameron’s failure to persuade the British people to remain in the European Union, she took office much earlier than expected when her gaffe prone rival Andrea Leadsom stood down.

It appears May’s sudden elevation and departure from the Home Office was the catalyst  that allowed some seasoned plotters unhappy for some time with Lowell Goddard’s performance as chair of the  child sex abuse  inquiry to act.

If Cameron had won the referendum and Theresa May was still home secretary it might well not have happened. For Theresa May could hardly accept the resignation of the third chair of a troubled inquiry within two years.

Piecing together what happened is not an exact science and not without its problems but it all points to a clever legal coup.

ben emmerson

Ben Emmerson:  Pic Credit: UN

The most powerful figure in the inquiry  apart from Goddard is Ben Emmerson, the QC to the inquiry. Nothing would have happened without his blessing and he must have been involved in her departure He is a formidable human rights lawyer, highly intelligent  and an award winning barrister from a highly political chambers, Matrix, whose former partners included Cherie Blair. He also has an ego the size of The Shard and is remarkably focused to the point of being perceived as a bit of a bully.

The irony about his role in the departure of Dame Lowell is that he was the one who introduced her to the Home Office in the first place.  He was the one because of his connections with the UN human rights body knew of her reputation in the human rights field .

He also rescued Theresa May at a time when two previous chairs, Dame Fiona Woolf and Baroness Butler Sloss, had to quit because of perceived conflicts of interest. At the time it seemed a brilliant move – removing any connection with the British Establishment when Establishment figures faced allegations of child sex abuse.

So what went wrong? According to different sources two things. Dame Lowell came into conflict with her own legal team about the scope and direction of the inquiry until the differences could not be resolved.

And the hard pressed secretariat became demoralised by the sheer scope and size of the different strands of the inquiry which promised to swamp their work and bury them in mounds of paper.. One source talked about absenteeism and low morale.

The decision to model the inquiry on the Australian child sex abuse investigation might have seemed a good idea at the time. But it is now clear that Australia is not England and Wales. The long running Australian inquiry has fewer numbers of people, fewer institutions and the population  is much lower than England and Wales.

I suspect that one of the issues that any new chair will have to examine is how to give the inquiry more focus. This may prove to be unpopular with survivors.who are already unhappy that some institutions are not being covered and will be worried that it could be used to cover up abuse. But to have any hope of meeting a timetable the inquiry cannot be opened ended. Nor is the issue of support for survivors being addressed either.

So who will get the new job. Some see the move as a clever ploy by Ben Emmerson to take over the chair himself and appoint a new QC to the inquiry. I am not so  sure he will want to be tied down for five years.

Some survivors want Michael Mansfield but this seems unlikely according to my Whitehall sources..

lady justice hallett pic credit BBC

Dame Heather Hallett – powerful candidate. Pic credit: BBC

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

 

My money is on Dame Heather Hallet – as being the most attractive to the PM who is bound to have a say alongside Amber Rudd, the home secretary.

A grammar school girl ( though an article  interviewing her suggested they did her no favours suggesting she would make a good domestic science teacher) and well grounded in the legal profession ( husband, Nigel Wilkinson is a mercantile judge and one of her sons, a barrister) she is a powerful contender.

She also showed considerable empathy as a coroner handling the  inquest into the 7/7 terrorism bombings and a fair amount of guts in investigating the scandal of the Blair government giving licence to IRA killers on the run  to avoid prosecution.

Whether she will want it is another matter.But whoever it is they will have to be very strong minded and an expert on English law. The first test will be the attempt by the Janner family to throw out any investigation into allegations against Greville Janner. The family are adamant that child sex abuse survivors have fabricated the allegations against him and therefore it should not even been considered  by the inquiry. This is why they want a judicial review not just to stop a ” trial “but I gather to reject any suggestion that such things ever happened.

All the survivors have been assured at a meeting with the remaining panel members ( but minus  Ben Emmerson) last week that the inquiry will continue. But how it will continue will depend on the next chair.

 

Time for Dame Lowell Goddard to explain why she quit

lowell goddard

Dame Lowell Goddard giving evidence to House of Commons home affairs committee today. Pic credit: BBC

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

The shock decision of Dame Lowell Goddard to quit the child sex abuse inquiry has been compounded by her very terse statement on why she resigned. See here Dame_Lowell_Goddard_letter

Survivors have been suddenly let down  by someone who only two years ago committed herself to a five year comprehensive inquiry that would cover every aspect of child sex abuse from VIP paedophiles to institutions as varied as children’s homes, religious orders,  schools and colleges.
It already has a packed programme  including a controversial hearing of the facts surrounding the allegations against Lord Janner; the scandal in Rochdale around Sir Cyril Smith, Lambeth Council, the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England to name but a  few. It was also, I understand, to look at the Westminster paedophile ring and Operation Midland but not until 2018.

So her decision to leave at this crucial moment when the inquiry was starting to get into its stride is more perplexing. Her statement today in full  read :

“I announce with regret my decision to resign as Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, effective from today.

“When I was first approached through the British High Commissioner in Wellington in late 2014, and asked to consider taking up the role, I had to think long and hard about it. After carefully discussing the matter with the Home Secretary and her Officials and seeking the counsel of those people in New Zealand whose opinions mattered to me, I decided that I should undertake the role, given my relevant experience and track record in the area.  It was however an incredibly difficult step to take, as it meant relinquishing my career in New Zealand and leaving behind my beloved family.

“The conduct of any public inquiry is not an easy task, let alone one of the magnitude of this. Compounding the many difficulties was its legacy of failure which has been very hard to shake off and with hindsight it would have been better to have started completely afresh.

“While it has been a struggle in many respects I am confident there have been achievements and some very real gains for victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse in getting their voices heard. I have nothing but the greatest of respect for the victims and survivors and have particularly enjoyed working with the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel which I established.”

What I find particularly perplexing is her implication that she should never have been appointed to continue the inquiry in the first place. If suggests that she did not think things through.

The inquiry following the resignations of Baroness Butler Sloss and Fiona Woolf because of conflicts of interest had already been remodelled – changing it from an independent panel to a  statutory judicial inquiry. Its work  and costs have gone up enormously and Lowell Goddard, as The Times pointed out, has taken time off and obviously misses her family.

The volume of work must be enormous – I know from sitting on a much smaller independent panel myself which I cannot talk about – that historic inquiries generate masses of documents.

In the child abuse area  a chair also needs to have a tough skin and a focused mind – since he or she is entering a minefield of controversy – and will face a barrage of complaints from a small but vocal minority who don’t believe that most of the child abuse took place – and most survivors are liars or bounty hunters.

Remember there are websites  devoted to the idea  that Jimmy Savile was totally innocent and everything has been made up by disturbed people. After all as Dame Janet Smith found the BBC either didn’t know or couldn’t bring itself to believe that he was a paedophile.

Therefore it seems to me that if she thinks there is something wrong in the process she should say so and she owes  the public who paid her a lot of money to chair this inquiry a full and frank explanation.

Reports suggested to me that her decision to go was not sudden. She has been seen as a little distant from event ( and not just physically ). There have been suggestions that Home Officials have tried to capture the direction of an independent inquiry and other suggestions that Ben Emmerson, the counsel in charge of the inquiry, may have had too much power.

Whatever happened we need a full explanation. And action from the Home Office and Theresa May, the PM who originally set up the inquiry as home secretary to make sure investigations and hearings go ahead regardless.

As I am the only person made redundant from Exaro who has a personal website – I intend to continue reporting on child sex abuse issues here and on Byline.com. Those who wish to keep abreast of developments should follow this blog or keep an eye on  Byline.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Is Lowell Goddard moving towards a ” Show Trial ” over the Westminster Paedophile Ring?

lowell goddard

Justice Lowell Goddard giving evidence to House of Commons home affairs committee today. Pic credit: BBC

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

Last month I  highlighted Ben Emmerson’s opening address to the Goddard Inquiry in which the leading counsel raised the argument of examining false accusations of child sex abuse and finding  against those who made them – effectively putting ” survivors on trial “.

I wrote: “this threat …must be very real for survivors who may want to give evidence in highly contentious cases. If  it does – sometime down the route – look at the Westminster paedophile ring – will ” Nick ” be expected to testify and face questions from lawyers for Harvey Proctor  who is alleged to be his abuser ( and vociferously denies it)- at the risk that a ” court” will decide he could be publicly condemned for going to the police in the first place.”

Now Lowell Goddard has confirmed this in an otherwise finely balanced statement issued surprisingly on All Fools Day ( but then she is a New Zealander and may not have known).

In it she says:

“. I am committed to ensuring that we hear all relevant testimony, including from victims and survivors as well as from those affected by false allegations of abuse. As I announced in November last year, the Inquiry intends to explore the balance which must be struck between encouraging the reporting of child sexual abuse and protecting the rights of the accused.  

I am determined to get the process of the Inquiry right.

I will ensure that all relevant evidence is considered. As is standard practice in public inquiries, questions to witnesses will normally be asked by Counsel to the Inquiry whose role will include, where necessary, the exploration of witness credibility. Affected parties will not ordinarily be permitted to ask questions of witnesses directly, but as I said in my Opening Statement in July 2015, affected parties are entitled to make an application to ask direct questions and I will grant those applications if fairness requires it. “

Yes there is a point here but the press seem to have immediately interpreted this to mean that  Harvey Proctor will have his day in court so he can condemn ” Nick” and ” Nick’s ” credibility will be judged by Lady Goddard and Ben Emmerson.

I am not going to comment further on Proctor’s case  but  draw attention  to another scenario.

Dame Janet Smith’s conclusion on the Jimmy  Savile scandal at the BBC concluded that  paedophiles were both very clever and manipulative ( Harvey Proctor’s lawyers please note this is not a reference to him).

Now just imagine if Bishop Peter Ball had appeared before Goddard after he had been first cleared but well before his recent conviction as a sex offender in a fresh police investigation.

Justice Goddard and Ben Emmerson would have heard what a decent and well respected chap he was from George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury, Tory Mp, Tim Rathbone, Lord Justice Lloyd and ex Tory minister Sir Tim Renton. What chance would any  survivor have against such a phalanx of the great and good to be ” credible” let alone ” credible and true”. I can just imagine the line of questioning from Ben Emmerson and he wouldn’t be hauling the former Archbishop of Canterbury over the coals.

And how utterly stupid Lowell Goddard and Ben Emmerson would have looked when a subsequent police inquiry found the Bishop guilty.

The pitfalls of handling the Westminster paedophile allegations in such a way should be clear to see and the inquiry better think very carefully about how they are going to do it. And survivors again the  Latin words ” Caveat Emptor” – buyer beware – should be utmost in their minds  before taking part in such an inquiry.

 

 

Goddard Inquiry: A very judicial view of child sex abuse

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

It was always clear that when the independent panel into child sex abuse morphed into a full blown judicial inquiry under Lady Justice Goddard that the emphasis and atmosphere of the hearings  would change.

Now it has started with preliminary hearings into  Greville Janner, the Anglican Church, Rochdale and Sir Cyril Smith and the forthcoming one on Lambeth it could couldn’t be clearer.

The tone was set by Ben Emmerson, counsel to the inquiry, when he outlined the role of the inquiry. Meeting in Court no 73  at the imposing Royal Courts of Justice in London it will have the atmosphere of a trial, the trappings of a trial, and a huge surfeit of lawyers representing every conceivable interest you see at any trial.

Each separate inquiry over the next five years will amount to a  judicial hearing into the case and there will be a lot of them.The focus will be  into looking into  events surrounding each case  based on strict legal criteria.

This is very different to the workings of an independent panel inquiry. I am a member of one at the moment so cannot comment on its work. But there is a quite a different emphasis in approach between an inquiry which focuses on putting together facts and  whose prime responsibility is to the people who have made the complaints and an  adversarial  inquiry that will be dominated by legal arguments and disputes.

Ben Emmerson, in my view, gave the game away, in his opening address.

He said this on one key point and I  report this in full :

“As will be obvious, Madam, the Westminster  investigations take place in a highly charged media environment. Allegations of the involvement of  politicians in child sexual abuse are reported, on the  one hand, as evidence of a paedophile conspiracy at the heart of Westminster and, on the other hand, as evidence  of a modern-day witch-hunt. It is the role of this  Inquiry to move from the realms of rumour and speculation, allegation and counter-allegation, to the  assessment of objective facts.

The Inquiry must consider all relevant documents, take evidence from witnesses and publish a report which sets out in clear terms what the evidence shows. In doing so, the Inquiry will need to remain sensitive to the particular needs of vulnerable complainants without unduly privileging their testimony. The Inquiry will also need to recognise the damage that can be caused by false accusations of sexual abuse, without hesitating to make findings against individuals and institutions if justified by the evidence. “

What concerned me – and I sought guidance from the inquiry on this – is whether survivors who give evidence will find themselves ” on trial ” during this inquiry and subject to rigorous cross examination about what they claimed happened to them.

The inquiry has clarified that it plans no hearings just to cover cases of false allegations which may disappoint the very vocal minority on the internet who claim that the level of child sex abuse is exaggerated and the motives of survivors are to get easy money by lying about what happened to them.

But this threat  which  I have outlined in bold must be very real for survivors who may want to give evidence in highly contentious cases. If  it does – sometime down the route – look at the Westminster paedophile ring – will ” Nick ” be expected to testify and face questions from lawyers for Harvey Proctor  who is alleged to be his abuser ( and vociferously denies it)- at the risk that a ” court” will decide he could be publicly condemned for going to the police in the first place.

Judgements are also being made on who should be a ” core participant ” – ie a person who can question  all witnesses -and this has already happened at the first preliminary hearing on Greville Janner

Here  Nigel O’Mara, a survivor and campaigner applicant for core participant status,is involved in a legal dispute over whether he should be allowed to become one. In an independent panel this would not arise as all victims are treated equally and there are no public hearings. Justice Goddard has had to reserve judgement on this, but it will not be the last.

I raise these issues not because I  want the inquiry to fail by highlighting problems for survivors in giving evidence – but to warn of potential pitfalls. If I was a survivor I would weigh up these issues very carefully before giving evidence.