Professor Alexis Jay will lead the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, taking over as chairwoman of the investigation.
Professor Jay, who has 30 years of experience in child protection, will become the fourth person to lead the probe, following the resignation of Dame Lowell Goddard last week.
The child protection expert led the Rotherham abuse inquiry that revealed at least 1,400 children were subjected to sexual exploitation in the town betwen 1997 and 2013.
Announcing the appointment, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “The independent inquiry has a vital role to play in exposing the failure of public bodies and other major organisations to prevent systematic child sexual abuse.
“I'm delighted Professor Alexis Jay has agreed to chair the inquiry. She has a strong track record in uncovering the truth and I have no doubt she will run this independent inquiry with vigour, compassion and courage.”
Ms Rudd added that the Government's commitment to the inquiry remained “undiminished”.
Following the announcement, Ms Jay said: “I am committed to ensuring this inquiry does everything it has set out to do and does so with pace, with confidence and with clarity.”
”Be in no doubt – the inquiry is open for business and people are busier than ever working hard to increase momentum.”
“The panel and I are determined to make progress on all parts of the inquiry's work, including speaking to victims and survivors,” she added. “I am determined to overcome the challenges along the way.”
“I will lead the largest public inquiry of its kind and together with my fellow panel members we will fearlessly examine institutional failures, past and present and make recommendations so that the children of England and Wales are better protected now and in the future.”
Last week, Justice Goddard was asked to appear before MPs to explain her reasons for leaving the post.
In a brief statement on Thursday, she said the inquiry was beset with a “legacy of failure” and offered her resignation.
The new Home Secretary dismissed concerns over the future of the ongoing inquiry, and insisted it would “continue without delay”.
Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz said Professor Jay was a “suitable candidate” but that he would still seek a full explanation from Justice Goddard for her sudden resignation.
He said: “I am sure the Home Secretary will have noted that Professor Jay will be the first chair of the inquiry without legal or judicial qualifications.
“I hope it will be fourth time lucky, as we must not let the victims and survivors down.”
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