UK Politics

Ministers urged to name child abuse inquiry head

Young girl sitting on bed Image copyright Jupiter Images
Image caption The government announced the inquiry into public bodies

The government must find someone to lead its probe into historical child abuse allegations immediately, a children's charity has said.

Barnardo's urged ministers to act after fresh claims of an abuse "cover-up".

Baroness Butler-Sloss stood down as head of an overarching inquiry nearly a fortnight ago amid concerns about her family links with the establishment.

Home Secretary Theresa May then said a new chairman and inquiry panel would be announced "as soon as possible".

'Stark reminder'

The charity was responding to the BBC's story about claims that a cover-up took place to protect politicians' reputations following allegations of abuse at a children's home in south London.

Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan said: "Today's allegations of politician and police cover-up operations into historical child sexual abuse claims is a stark reminder of the urgent need for government to get its investigation into child sex abuse off the ground and find a replacement for Baroness Butler-Sloss now.

"Despite claims of 'not hanging around' in naming her successor, almost two weeks have passed. The government has still to tell the country who will lead the inquiry and what its remit will be."

BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins says there is understood to be frustration among some in the charitable sector that a replacement still has not been announced.

Lady Butler-Sloss's late brother, Sir Michael Havers, was attorney general in the 1980s.

Duty of care

When she stepped down the retired judge said she was "not the right person" for the job and did not "sufficiently consider" whether her family links would cause difficulties.

Mrs May said she did not regret appointing the peer, adding that she would "not hang around" in naming a successor.

Downing Street initially said it would "take a few days" to appoint a new chairman and appeared to indicate that whoever was chosen would not be so closely linked to the establishment.

Mrs May said she hoped to name a new candidate "within a reasonable amount of time" but said whoever was approached would need to "think carefully" about the nature of the role.

Following the call from Barnardo's, a Home Office spokesman said: "The work of this inquiry is vital and an announcement will be made on who will take over the chairmanship and membership of the panel 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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