NO FAITH

Survivors’ group ‘loses faith’ in child sex abuse inquiry

 Raymond Stevenson on Newsnight

 

 

  • 8 September 2016
  • From the section UK

Image caption

Raymond Stevenson is one of the survivors’ group’s leaders

A 600-strong
survivors’ group has lost faith in the independent inquiry into
historical child sexual abuse, its leaders have said.

Shirley Oaks
Survivors Association told the BBC it would recommend withdrawing from
the Lambeth strand of the inquiry because it was not “truly
independent”.
Ex-inquiry chair Justice Lowell Goddard has said she
was prevented from picking her own staff, and that civil servants were
prioritised by the Home Office.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd denied this.
The
treatment of children in care in Lambeth, south London, during the
second half of the 20th Century is one of 13 areas that the inquiry is
looking at.

But
the Shirley Oaks group said the Home Office was one of the institutions
that had failed children in care in Lambeth in the past – and that the
scale of its presence in the inquiry staff represented a conflict of
interest.
Raymond Stevenson, from the survivors’ group, told BBC
Newsnight there had been a sea change in the way the inquiry was
operating.
“We have to recommend at this moment in time that we
pull out. We have given the inquiry an opportunity to meet us. We
contacted them two weeks ago and we are still waiting for a meeting,” he
said.
“Some
of our members have been through investigations before which had Home
Office members and staff part of it so we have been through that.
“This
is about the third investigation Lambeth has been through so what we
wanted from this was for it to be truly independent. We were sold a
theory it would be truly independent.”

‘Progress impeded’

In
a written submission to the Commons Home Affairs Committee, Dame Lowell
said: “The panel and I have had little or no input into either the
composition of the senior management team or the recruitment of
secretariat staff during the lifetime of the current inquiry.
“The
administrative arrangements made by the Home Office as the inquiry’s
sponsor meant that in the recruitment of staff priority was given to
civil servants.
“Their approach has been bureaucratic and the
inquiry’s progress has been impeded by a lack of adequate systems and
personnel, leading to critical delays.
“I felt as chair handicapped by not being given a free hand to recruit staff of the type that I judged to be essential.”
Ms
Rudd denied that Dame Lowell had been unable to choose her own staff,
and has also said the scope of the inquiry will not change despite Dame
Lowell’s claim it was too big and bureaucratic and should focus on
current child protection and future changes.
The inquiry was set
up in 2014 and announced that 13 initial investigations would look into
allegations against local authorities, religious organisations, the
armed forces, public and private institutions and people in the public
eye.
It has been beset by problems, and last month Dame Lowell became the third chair to quit the inquiry.
Prof
Alexis Jay, who led the Rotherham abuse inquiry, is to be the new
chairwoman of the inquiry into child sexual abuse in England and Wales.

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