May to reveal abuse probe details

Published: Monday 3rd November 2014 by The News Editor

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Home Secretary Theresa May will today attempt to get the inquiry into historical child sexual abuse back on track after the loss of its second chairman in less than four months.

Mrs May is due to make a statement to the Commons explaining how she intends to proceed following the dramatic resignation on Friday of Fiona Woolf.

Mrs Woolf, the Lord Mayor of London, admitted she had lost the confidence of abuse victims following disclosures about her links to the former home secretary, Lord Brittan.

The Conservative peer was expected to come under scrutiny by the inquiry over claims he failed to act on a dossier of allegations of alleged paedophile activity at Westminster in the 1980s.

Labour accused the Home Office of “gross incompetence” in failing to carry out the background checks which would have picked up her links with Lord Brittan after her predecessor had resigned in similar circumstances.

Baroness Butler-Sloss stood down in July amid questions over the role played by her late brother, Lord Havers, who was attorney general in the 1980s.

Mrs May has said she will now consult the victims as well as relevant parliamentarians before making a new appointment.

The Leader of the Commons, William Hague, confirmed at the weekend that the inquiry panel would continue its work while a chairman was sought.

“We are determined that this inquiry will happen and will be able to do its work. There are so many deeply disturbing things for it to look into,” he said.

“Clearly some terrible things have happened over many years. We have got to find out the truth about that. So we have to somehow maintain and restore the momentum of this work.”

For Labour, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the inquiry may now need to be given statutory powers to enable it to compel witnesses to appear to give evidence.

“We were originally told that the reason for not having statutory powers was because they would be able to get going more quickly,” she told Sky News’s Murnaghan programme.

“We have obviously had the delays already, nobody wants to see further delays, but we have got to make sure that it does have the powers it needs.”

She also called for the publication of a review, which she said had now been completed by the NSPCC chief, Peter Wanless, into the way the Home Office dealt with an investigation into child abuse allegations between 1979 and 1999.

Published: Monday 3rd November 2014 by The News Editor

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