This flawed child sex abuse inquiry needs a clear focus

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: This flawed child sex abuse inquiry needs a clear focus 

What
a deplorable fiasco the child sex abuse inquiry has become. Allegations
of racism and misconduct against former chairman, Justice Lowell
Goddard – coming shortly after the abrupt departure of the inquiry’s
lead counsel Ben Emmerson and his junior – are just the latest in a
catalogue of disasters.
Before
mysteriously resigning, claiming it had been difficult to leave behind
her family in New Zealand, Dame Lowell is said to have told colleagues
that the growth of paedophilia in Britain was a result of the large
number of Asian men living here, and complained of having to travel 50
miles from London to see a white face – all of which she denies.
She
is also alleged to have thrown frequent tantrums, treated her staff
with contempt and struggled to grasp key points of English law.
Certainly Dame Lowell was deeply unimpressive. In her first year in the £500,000-a-year job, she spent three months on holiday or overseas

Certainly Dame Lowell was deeply
unimpressive. In her first year in the £500,000-a-year job, she spent
three months on holiday or overseas
Disturbingly,
the Home Office is accused of knowing about her shortcomings – but
covering them up to avoid embarrassment. Two chairmen had already quit
since the then Home Secretary Theresa May set up the inquiry in July
2014.
Certainly
Dame Lowell was deeply unimpressive. In her first year in the
£500,000-a-year job, she spent three months on holiday or overseas.
But
unsuitable as she undoubtedly was, there is a much bigger problem with
this inquiry. Its brief is so impossibly wide that in its present form
it is doomed to failure.
Her departure came shortly after the abrupt departure of the inquiry’s lead counsel Ben Emmerson

Her departure came shortly after the abrupt departure of the inquiry’s lead counsel Ben Emmerson
Mrs
May’s original remit was woolly enough – to examine the duty of care
owed by public bodies to children and determine whether enough was being
done to protect them from abuse.
Since
then the inquiry has taken on a life of its own. There are now 13
investigations jammed into one amorphous bundle, with allegations going
back 50 years. Beyond the basic issue of child abuse there is little –
if anything – to connect them.
There
are hundreds of accusations against the police, courts, NHS, BBC,
Catholic and Anglican churches, local authorities, political parties and
the security services – not to mention individuals including the late
Labour peer Lord Janner.
Many
have already been investigated elsewhere. Indeed one, the Rotherham
abuse scandal, was the subject of a comprehensive report by Professor
Alexis Jay, who succeeded Dame Lowell as chairman of the inquiry. Does
she really need to rake over it again?
Let
us be clear. The Mail has profound sympathy and compassion for the
victims of paedophilia. It is an evil crime that ruins lives and,
shamefully, has not been taken seriously enough by the authorities in
the past.
And if there was an Establishment cover-up over the decades, then this needs to be nailed.
Sir Cliff Richard's life has been blighted on fabricated evidence

Lord Bramall, the 92-year-old Normandy veteran, was falsely accused of child-rape by a fantasist

Like Sir Cliff Richard (left), Lord Bramall’s life was blighted and his reputation trashed on fabricated evidence
But
have today’s authorities become over-zealous in their pursuit of
historic crimes? Only this week Scotland Yard finally issued an apology
for the appalling hounding of Field Marshal Lord Bramall, the
92-year-old Normandy veteran falsely accused of child-rape by a
fantasist.
Like
Sir Cliff Richard, Lord Brittan and other prominent figures, his life
was blighted and his reputation trashed on fabricated evidence.
Shouldn’t this be a lesson that the inquiry must be cautious about what
it accepts as truth?
Above
all, its scope must be drastically reduced. It’s already expected to
last five years and cost £100million but its remit is so absurdly
diverse that those estimates could easily double.
Yes,
victims must be listened to, but not without question. They too, must
move on with their lives. This cannot be an exercise in mass therapy.
It
is an inquiry that has careered out of control and now needs clear
criteria. Without them it will inevitably collapse. How would that
benefit past victims – or protect the children of the future? 

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