Friday, September 05, 2014

At last, the Inquiry into abuse in the UK is getting going

After a long pause following the false start with Butler-Sloss, The Home Secretary announced on 5th September 2014 that the "independent inquiry panel of experts" would be led by Fiona Wolff, a former Lord Mayor of London and President of he Law Society. She is expert in privatisation of electricity transmission and is a liveryman of the Plumbers', Arbitrators', Marketors' and Tax Advisers' companies.

Counsel to the Inquiry is Ben Emmerson QC. He seems a good choice.

Survivors of abuse will be represented by Graham Wilmer MBE, founder of the Lantern Project.

Barbara Hearn OBE, a past deputy CEO of the National Children's Bureau is also chosen.

The remit so far is to "consider whether public bodies – and other, non-state, institutions – have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse."

It will be tempting for Ms Wolff to hold the swiftest ever inquiry by responding with a one word Report: "No".

However, the remit (and powers) of the inquiry will no doubt be expanded.

It is a pity that the petition to have Michael Mansfield QC chair the inquiry was unsuccessful.

We should work with what we have, and not pre-judge the outcome. The Wolff Inquiry may end up as a Hutton-style whitewash, another waste of public time and money. Or it may not. To a great extent, the final result depends on how we, the public, survivors and activists alike, communicate with the Inquiry, and how well Wolff listens.

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