Oliver Duff

i Editor's Letter: The value of public inquiries

 

Share

 

“You spoilt my breakfast,” writes i reader Geoff Humphries. “Salmond’s ugly mug and what looks like another trawl for geriatric paedos.” West Norwood’s Ron Clough writes of our Rolf Harris story on Saturday: “I have been dismayed by the meretricious media coverage of sex offences committed by celebrities. This sensational treatment is designed to appeal to the  prurient side of human nature in order  to sell newspapers or attract viewers.”

I share such distaste for the stories. Without resorting to frivolity, we try not to be too bleak in our coverage of  the world every day. But in the case of  today’s cover story – the inquiry into how public bodies handled claims of child sex abuse – this isn’t some  media paedo-geddon. At stake are public confidence, possibly justice and,  if institutional failures are found, the chance to prevent future such crimes.

It has become fashionable to denigrate inquiries. They are sometimes pointless, used by politicians to kick  unpleasant problems into the undergrowth. But they can also teach lessons  and bring solace to the harmed.

The Hillsborough Independent Panel  finally absolved Liverpool fans of responsibility for the disaster – and revealed the mass cover-up of police negligence. The earlier Taylor Report transformed safety at British football matches. After the Bristol baby heart scandal, Sir Ian Kennedy’s recommendation that mortality rates be  published helped to trigger later investigations into appalling treatment at Mid Staffs and at Basildon.

The Cullen Inquiry into the Dunblane massacre led to handguns being  banned. The words “institutionally racist” will long be associated with the  Metropolitan Police and the murder of  Stephen Lawrence. Lord Laming’s investigation into the murder of  Victoria Climbié revolutionised social  workers’ approach to child protection.

I fear that Theresa May’s new inquiry – unable to compel witnesses to give evidence – will struggle to uproot the answers it needs. But it deserves our support.

i@independent.co.uk.

Twitter.com: @olyduff

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Mosul falls: Talk of Iraq retaking the town, held by IS since June, is unconvincing  

Isis on the run? The US portrayal is very far from the truth

Patrick Cockburn
Joyce Carol Oates is among 150 writers to protest that the award decision was ‘neither clear nor inarguable’  

Charlie Hebdo's PEN Freedom of Expression Courage Award is well deserved

Joan Smith
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk