Woolf role under renewed scrutiny

Published: Thursday 30th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Fiona Woolf faced fresh pressure about her role at head of a Government inquiry into child abuse after the chairman of an influential group of MPs said her attempt to detail her contact with former home secretary Lord Brittan tried to play down her links with the former cabinet minister and his wife.

A letter Mrs Woolf wrote to Home Secretary Theresa May stated that she had no “social contact” with Lord and Lady Brittan since April 23 2013.

But t he chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz said there were seven drafts of the letter and the final version “gave a sense of greater detachment” between Lord and Lady Brittan and Mrs Woolf than her previous attempts.

Mr Vaz had written to City lawyer Mrs Woolf after a photograph surfaced showing her chatting to Lady Brittan at a prize-giving last October.

The Labour MP said the committee would decide in a meeting next week whether Mrs Woolf should be recalled to give further evidence to them.

He said: “Mrs Woolf’s letter to the Committee raises more questions than it answers about an appointment process that has been chaotic, and a series of exchanges with the Home Office and others, where words, and sometimes even facts, have been amended.

“It is extraordinary that Mrs Woolf did not even write the first draft of her letter which was supposed to detail her own personal experiences. The letter then underwent seven drafts with a multiplicity of editors.

“The lessons of the Butler-Sloss appointment and resignation have not been learned. There should have been full disclosure of this information before, not after, her appointment.”

Mrs Woolf was appointed last month to chair the panel inquiring into UK institutions’ handling of child sex abuse allegations, after the original nominee Lady Butler-Sloss stepped down because her late brother, Lord Havers, was attorney general during much of the period in question.

However, there has been criticism since it was revealed she has lived on the same London street as Lord Brittan – who is likely to be called to give evidence – for a decade.

Former home secretary Lord Brittan denies failing to act on a dossier of paedophilia allegations he received while in office in the 1980s.

As well as inviting the Brittans to dinner at her house three times, she has dined at theirs twice, met Lady Brittan for coffee, sat on a prize-giving panel with her, and sponsored her £50 for a fun run.

Published: Thursday 30th October 2014 by The News Editor

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