Abuse inquiry chief Fiona Woolf faces quiz over her links to Leon Brittan
- Committee of MPs will ask about her links to the former Home Secretary
- Brittan accused of failing to act on a dossier about VIP paedophile rings
- Woolf missed first meeting of the abuse inquiry panel as she was abroad
Question time: Fiona Woolf will be quizzed by members of the Home Affairs Select Committee
The controversial chairman of the Government’s historic child abuse inquiry will be finally forced to admit her links to a key figure in the alleged Establishment cover-up this week.
For six weeks, Fiona Woolf has refused to reveal how well she knows Leon Brittan – accused of failing to act on a dossier about VIP paedophile rings – and whether or not she declared their friendship before she accepted her high-profile role.
It is thought the Home Office was unaware that she has lived in the same street as the former Home Secretary for a decade, was on a City conference board with him, and was a magistrate at the same court as his wife Diana for three years – until it was revealed by The Mail on Sunday.
Corporate lawyer Mrs Woolf has spent much of the past two months overseas in her role as Lord Mayor of London, missing the first meeting of the abuse inquiry panel and attracting criticism in Parliament.
But she will finally have to answer the concerns about her potential conflicts of interest when she appears before a powerful group of MPs on Tuesday.
Sources confirmed that the members of the Home Affairs Select Committee – who themselves had to wait several weeks for her to answer their request to appear – will ask her about her links to the Brittans and if they were declared in advance of her appointment on September 5.
She is also likely to be quizzed about the delay in starting work on the inquiry, caused by her heavy workload in the role as the ceremonial head of the City of London.
The terms of reference – likely to include the possible involvement of former MPs in child abuse at institutions including care homes and schools – have not even been set but an interim report is due before the General Election in May.
Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP who has helped expose high-profile child abusers including Cyril Smith, said last night: ‘I’m very pleased that she is coming before the Home Affairs Select Committee. But it’s unfortunate this information is having to be dragged out of her, rather than her giving a statement.’
How the Mail on Sunday broke story about Fiona Woolf’s links to former Home Secretary Leon Brittan
He added: ‘I am disappointed the inquiry still hasn’t got under way properly. There is a historic dimension to this – every week counts.’
Meanwhile, two reviews into the Home Office’s handling of paedophilia in previous decades are being read by Theresa May.
She commissioned NSPCC chief Peter Wanless and barrister Richard Whittam to look into allegations that the Home Office funded the notorious Paedophile Information Ex-change in the 1970s, and lost dozens of crucial files – including the ‘Dickens dossier’, said to name public figures involved in child sex, which was handed to Lord Brittan in 1983.