Child abuse inquiry: Why can’t we find somebody fit to investigate the Establishment?

Powerful lady: Fiona Woolf has been appointed to investigate Establishment figures
Powerful lady: Fiona Woolf has been appointed to investigate Establishment figures
Leon Brittan was Home Secretary in Mrs Thatcher's 1983 government
Leon Brittan was Home Secretary in Mrs Thatcher’s 1983 government

This investigation into child abuse has already been a marvellous success, before they’ve even agreed who’s going to conduct the thing. Because Fiona Woolf, the woman appointed to investigate the conduct of Establishment figures independently, including Leon Brittan, turns out to have had a number of dinners… with Leon Brittan.

That should make the investigation so much easier to carry out. Instead of going through the rigmarole of formal hearings, they can chat about it during pudding. Then her final report can read: “During my first interview with Lord Brittan, we agreed that as child abuse is rather a dry and stuffy issue; instead he’d show me his holiday snaps.
“As a result I have no hesitation in recommending that if you have been a victim of abuse, a fortnight in a villa in the Caribbean seems an ideal setting to relax and get over it.”
This is after the first person they appointed to run it turned out to be the sister of the Attorney General at the time. If they have to replace Fiona Woolf they’ll announce: “We have now appointed someone whose experience and impartiality can surely not be challenged – Lady Brittan, who will be ably assisted by Lord Brittan.”
Theresa May, who appointed her, insists Fiona Woolf only had dinner with the Brittans a few times, complaining that if we’re going to be that fussy who can we get? Her argument seems to be: “Well, everyone has been to dinner with Leon Brittan now and again. I suppose if we scour the council estates of east London we might find someone who’s only had him round for tea and whelks. It’s not his fault he’s so sociable.”
After denying she knew him all that well, it has emerged Woolf also had a meeting with him she’d forgotten about. You can understand this, because none of us remember every meeting we’ve had with a former Home Secretary. And in case she’d forgotten about the time she was out and about with Lady Brittan, luckily for Woolf, a photograph has emerged showing them together. But then you’re bound to forget the odd occasion, such as when Douglas Hurd popped round to watch the darts. Or when you fed Jack Straw’s fish while he was away at a party conference.
Next it will turn out Fiona Woolf was married to Leon Brittan for eight years. But she’ll assure us: “This was some time ago an, as a busy professional woman, I can’t be expected to recall every marriage I participate in.”

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