Alleged victims of child sexual abuse have warned Theresa May they will withdraw from the Government’s controversial official inquiry unless major changes are made.
In an open letter to Home Secretary released today, 24 signatories claimed the inquiry as it stands is “not fit for purpose” because of what it is being asked to examine and the proposed chairs.
The inquiry has been bedevilled with problems since it was announced in July. It is yet to find a chair, following the embarrassing resignations of Baroness Butler-Sloss and Fiona Woolf. The problems intensified with yesterday’s written warning from “survivors and associated professionals”.
“We were very much hoping to take up the invitations to engage with your ministerial officers to discuss the child sex abuse inquiry but we regret to say we have to decline,” they said. “We, alongside many survivors, have made numerous representations to you regarding our view that the inquiry as it stands is not fit for purpose.
“Its terms of reference are inadequate for delivering the original declared intentions of the inquiry, namely to investigate government and Establishment cover-ups of paedophiles in their ranks and aiding bringing the perpetrators to justice.
“Secondly, both your appointees to head the inquiry panel have had to be forced out by survivors because of obvious conflicts of interest, and you have failed to address similar issues regarding other panel appointees.
“Thirdly, that the cut-off date for the inquiry investigations was set at 1970 is highly disturbing given that the 1969 Children’s Act transferred Home Office-run youth establishments, from which thousands of abuse allegations eventually emerged.”
The signatories said they had no option but to end engagement with the inquiry until Mrs May scrapped the current panel, replacing it “on a transparent basis”, declared a statutory inquiry, and extended the cut-off date to 1945.
Mrs May has asked the Home Affairs Select Committee to draw up a list of three chair candidates for her to consider. But committee chairman Keith Vaz said he had insisted Mrs May should identify a “suitable nominee” and allow the committee to examine the individual.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The Home Secretary is absolutely committed to ensuring the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has the confidence of survivors and that is why she is meeting them and their representatives.”