Fiona Woolf, the controversial head of the Government’s child sex abuse inquiry, is under renewed pressure after it emerged another member of her inquiry panel has links with Lord Brittan.
The Telegraphcan disclose that Dame Moira Gibb – who was appointed to sit on the panel on Tuesday along with a number of other experts – has admitted a close personal friend worked with Lord Brittan during part of the period which will be closely scrutinised by the inquiry.
Lord Brittan, who as Leon Brittan who was in charge of the Home Office in the 1980s, issued a statement through his solicitors in July after being questioned by the police over an alleged sexual offence.
Earlier this year he was questioned under caution over an allegation of rape dating back to 1967, which he said was “wholly without foundation”.
It has also been claimed that while at the Home Office Lord Brittan was handed a file – now missing – in late 1983 which allegedly detailed child abuse at the highest levels of Westminster.
In a letter to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, on October 17 Dame Moira said she had no “direct interest in the matters to which the inquiry relates”.
But just five days later she was forced to write to Mrs May again.
She wrote: “I would like to set out that Mr Gerald Malone, whom I declared as a personal friend, informed me last night that he was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Lord Brittan in 1985 when Lord Brittan was Secretary of State for Trade and Investment, and a Government whip from 1986-1987.
“I will keep this matter under review during the tenure of my appointment to the inquiry panel.”
The first person appointed to head the inquiry, Baroness Butler Sloss, was forced to resign before proceedings had got underway after it emerged her brother, Michael Havers, may have had to make legal decisions about abuse allegations in his role as attorney general in the 1980s.
Mrs Woolf faced calls for her resignation after she revealed she had a number of personal links with Lord Brittan and his wife.
Mrs Woolf admitted she had lived in the same London road as the Brittans and had attended at five dinner parties with them.
Her personal connections with Lord Brittan have come under intense scrutiny because of the nature of the inquiry into what some commentators have alleged is an “establishment cover up”.
Gerald Malone was a Conservative MP in Baroness Thatcher’s and Sir John Major’s governments.
As a trusted worker forLord Brittanin the 1980s it is conceivable the sex abuse inquiry may wish to take evidence from him about Lord Brittan’s tenure at Home Office.
This could lead to a potential conflict of interest for Dame Moira, a social work expert and former chief executive of Camden borough council in north London.