Monday, 10 November 2014
Is it wise for Keith Vaz to chair confirmation hearings for the Chair of the UK Child Abuse Inquiry?
In the letter I ask whether it is wise that Keith Vaz chair any confirmation hearings that the Home Affairs Select Committee may hold with respect to the appointment of a successor to Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss and Fiona Woolf.
I think that the questions in the letter are important questions of actual or perceived conflicts of interest which Mr. Vaz must address sooner or later.
11th November 2014To:Home Affairs Select CommitteeDear Members of the Home Affairs Select CommitteeIs it wise that Keith Vaz chairs confirmation hearings into the appointment of a Chair for the proposed UK Child Abuse Inquiry?This letter is for the urgent attention of each member of the Home Affairs Select Committee.When the Home Affairs Select Committee took Oral Evidence from the Home Secretary on 14th July 2014 the Chair made the following remarks:I said to Mr Sedwell, “Was it wise to appoint someone who is a Member of Parliament into an inquiry that may well result in issues to do with Westminster being the subject matter of that inquiry?”See Question 4 on page 2 here:http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/home-affairs-committee/the-work-of-the-home-secretary/oral/11368.pdfMr. Vaz made an important point regarding actual or perceived conflict of interests.Given Mr. Vaz’s awareness of the issue it is all the more suprising that he hasn’t declared his own potential conflicts of interest.See my letter of 1st November 2014 to Mr. Vaz:Let me put this to the Committee as a series of questions:
- Is it wise that Mr. Vaz chairs any confirmation hearings given that he was employed as a solicitor by Richmond Council in the 1980s and that there are serious allegations about Richmond Council children’s homes supplying boys to Elm Guest House?
- Is it wise that Mr. Vaz chairs any confirmation hearings given that he was employed as a senior solicitor by Islington Councils in the 1980s and that there are serious allegations about child abuse in homes run by Islington Council?
- Is it wise that Mr. Vaz chairs any confirmation hearings given that, in 1991, he sought to change the Law to suppress public awarenss of child abuse allegations made in open court?
- Is it wise for the Home Affairs Select Committee to “protect its own” by allowing Mr. Vaz to continue as Chair, given that a key issue in the UK Child Abuse Inquiry is whether Members of Parliament protected their own, to the detriment of the public interest?DistributionThis letter is a public document.I will place a copy of it on my UK Child Abuse Inquiry blog:Action requested of the CommitteeI ask each member of the Home Affairs Select Committee carefully to consider these questions and the potential impact of ignoring them on any future credibility the Home Affairs Select Committee might have with respect to the proposed Child Abuse Inquiry and more generally.Yours sincerely(Dr) Andrew Watt