Charity urges abuse inquiry appointment

Model posed picture of child on floor Image copyright Thinkstock

A children's charity has accused the government of "dragging its heels" over its historical child abuse inquiry, saying the Rotherham scandal is "the tip of the iceberg".

Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan urged the government to announce who would lead the inquiry and its remit.

Baroness Butler-Sloss stood down as chair of the inquiry in July.

The Home Office said it was being "thorough" and would announce a new chair "as soon as possible".

'Silenced children'

Mr Khan said Professor Alexis Jay's report on abuse in Rotherham, which this week revealed at least 1,400 children had been sexually exploited over a 16-year period, should act as a "wake-up call" to the government.

He said: "The country has waited for two months since Baroness Butler-Sloss stood down as chair of the inquiry.

"Despite claims of 'not hanging around' to name her successor, the government has still to tell us who will lead the inquiry and what its remit will be.

"The government cannot drag its heels any longer. It needs to get this inquiry off the ground so we can start to hear the voices of silenced children."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Lady Butler-Sloss stepped down as head of the inquiry earlier this year

Retired judge Lady Butler-Sloss said she was "not the right person for the job" when she stepped down amid concerns about her family links to the establishment.

Her late brother Sir Michael Havers had been attorney general in the 1980s.

She said that when she had accepted the role she did not "sufficiently consider" whether this link would "cause difficulties".

'Gravitas and experience'

A Home Office spokesman said the process of appointing the new chair of the inquiry had to be "thorough".

He said: "We have to get this appointment right and we need someone at its head with gravitas and experience.

"We are working as quickly as we can on this, and we will announce a new chair as soon as possible."

The inquiry was set up to examine how public bodies handled their duty of care to protect children from paedophiles.

It came after Labour MP Simon Danczuk called on Leon Brittan to say what he knew about paedophile allegations passed to him when he was home secretary in the 1980s.

The files were given to Lord Brittan by the late Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens, who was a long-standing campaigner against child abuse.

Mrs May has ordered a separate review into the Home Office's own investigation into historical allegations of child abuse and how police and prosecutors handled information given to them.

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