Lack of a Welsh representative on the child abuse inquiry panel is ‘scandalous’ and ‘mind-boggling’

Former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has told Theresa May it is ‘scandalous that Wales is not represented on the panel’ and ‘unless this is rectified then the inquiry will fail in its purpose’

FILE PHOTO Home Secretary Theresa May
Home Secretary Theresa May (above) has been urged by Peter Hain to ensure a figure with Welsh expertise is on the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has described it as “mind-boggling” and “scandalous” that Wales is not represented on the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.
The Labour MP has written to Home Secretary Theresa May and urged her to appoint a person with knowledge of specific issues relating to the care of children in Wales.
He described the absence of a Welsh representative as “very worrying,” adding: “Given the huge importance the inquiry carries it is mind boggling that such an oversight has happened.”
Mr Hain noted that more than 20 people have been arrested as part of Operation Pallial’s investigation of historical sexual abuse in the care system in North Wales.
The panel has been rocked by the resignation of two of its chairs. Baroness Butler-Sloss resigned in July following concern about her establishment links and Fiona Woolf quit earlier this month amid scrutiny of her social connections with former Home Secretary Lord Brittan.
Mr Hain argued it was “vital” the panel featured expertise on the Welsh care system, saying: “Under the current membership of the panel this is clearly missing and raises serious concerns and worries over whether the panel can carry out their functions and responsibilities in a thorough and robust manner when an area with a population of over three million not represented.”
Noting that local government and health are devolved responsibilities in Wales, he said: “If there is to be serious investigation into whether these bodies took seriously their duty of care then a deep understanding of how the system in Wales works, the relationship between the various bodies in Wales and how they interact in not just desirable it is absolutely necessary. It is scandalous that Wales is not represented on the panel and unless this is rectified then the inquiry will fail in its purpose to investigate whether public bodies have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and any vital lessons to be learnt to prevent this from happening in the future will be lost.
“I urge you to appoint someone with the relevant experience and a knowledge of the system in Wales as soon as possible to overcome this failing in the panel.”
The panel includes Professor Alexis Jay, who was the first Chief Social Work Adviser to the Scottish Government. It also features Dru Sharpling who is Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary for the Wales and Western Region.
A Home Office spokesman said: “The panel consists of members with a broad range of experience and skills. They have backgrounds in social care, academia, law enforcement, healthcare, the media and the voluntary sector and some have experienced sexual abuse themselves as children. We believe that the panel can command the confidence of the public and, most importantly, of the survivors of child abuse.
“The new chairman and the panel will be sensitive to the devolved nature of health, education and local government in Wales. We are confident they will work effectively with the Welsh Government, relevant public bodies and with Welsh survivors to ensure the final report fully engages with the appalling abuse suffered at institutions across England and Wales.”

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