Overarching Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry – Woolf Inquiry

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, finally chose to announce the Terms of Reference and the Members of the panel of inquiry into historic child abuse (#CSAInquiry) this morning, despite the fact she had had 6 weeks to do so since the appointment of Fiona Woolf as the chair, and three and a half months since the inquiry was announced. This left just hours for the panel and the public to attempt to study that information before Fiona Woolf the “Chair” of the inquiry, appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee.

may securingIt appears impossible to attribute this to anything other than a cynical disregard by Theresa May and the Home Office  for the victims of child sexual abuse and the public. Only incompetence, deliberate cover up and a department not fit for purpose appear to be other possible causes. The choice by Theresa May in making a statement just before the appearance of Woolf before the select committee had the effect of drawing any criticism from her and her delay, onto Fiona Woolf and her suitability.

woolf 6

Fiona Woolf greeting her fellow citizens

Similarly no statement or information whatosever has been forthcoming from Woolf since she was appointed, about the the inquiry or her ability to chair an inquiry when she was so much part of the establishment that has covered up the abuse and also friends with Leon Brittan, who is accused of a rape on a female and accused of cover up of dossiers about child abuse when Home Secretary. Whilst this is a far as the lame mainstream press will go, he is of course accused of being a paedophile with much evidence and is currently under legal action for that activity but not from the Crown.

Woolf said that she only met the Home Secretary for the first time today regarding the inquiry, but had had 3 detailed phone calls with her – one about the appointment and skillsets needed for the panel, one about the names for the panel, and one about the ministerial statement.

woolf 4

The masses await her every pronouncement

Woolf says she made clear to the Home Secretary that she could not start the inquiry until mid November when her term as Lord Mayor finishes. She certainly has never made that clear to the public and victims who were desperate for information. She never answered her @citylordmayor email and a few days ago it was closed down. The Home Office chose not to make it clear either.

Woolf first spoke to most of the panel only 4 days ago.  As for the criticisms of her links to the establishment, she repeatedly claimed that she was not part of the establishment! She claimed that accusations of this was because people misunderstood what the City Lord Mayor did, as though that was the only think that made her establishment.

What has been difficult to accept was a Chairperson that was so establishment, what is even more unsuitable is a chair that is so in the establishment bubble that she does not even realise that she is establishment.

woolf 2

Fiona Woolf meeting with the hoi polloi representative

As to her links with Leon Brittan, her statement [9] sets out that she hosted 3 dinners that he was at, and she went to 2 dinner parties at the Brittans house, as well as other links. She maintained that  ” I do not have a close association with any interested party”. This was a reference to Section 9 of the Inquiries Act [10] which states

“Requirement of impartiality

(1) The Minister must not appoint a person as a member of the inquiry panel if it appears to the Minister that the person has—

(a) a direct interest in the matters to which the inquiry relates, or

(b) a close association with an interested party,

unless, despite the person’s interest or association, his appointment could not reasonably be regarded as affecting the impartiality of the inquiry panel.”

Brittan was “just one of thousands of people she knew in the city”. Maybe, but she didnt exchange small dinners with them at her house. Before Woolf was announced as Chair, due diligence should have been completed. It now appears that to avoid further embarrassment to Theresa May who should have overseen the due diligence before announcing Woolf, and to avoid embarrassment to Woolf who should have fully declared any potential conflicts early on, an attempt is being made to shoehorn her links with Brittan into the legal definition.

However if a close association is not having dinner in each others homes with an individual when there are only 6 people there (excluding servants if any), I do not know what is. To try and pretend otherwise is disingenous. This is not even including or investigating the other links Woolf had with Brittan, including with his wife.

woolf 3Due diligence, in this case the statements of interests and any conflicts, appears to have only been done this last weekend and Woolf appeared to say that if the due diligence was not satisfactory ie she was too close to Brittan in Section 9 of Inquiries Act, then she would not need to resign as she did not even have an appointments letter in September.

Woolf even appeared to draft her interests/due diligence letter with a home office official before submitting it to the Head of that very department.  She said this was because she  wanted her conduct to be regarded as open and transparent by the Home Secretary. Yet open and transparent is exactly what you have not been Mrs Woolf otherwise you would not act hand in glove with the home office, and you would have made a statement when people were begging you to, in the last six weeks.

Furthermore Woolf never answered, even though asked several times, whether she understood that the perception of her, rightly or wrongly was of an establishment figure. She would not accept this.

It does not even matter if Woolf is whiter than white, purer than pure, justice does not just have to be done it has to be seen to be done. Even if her association with Leon Brittan is not as close as people think it is, justice will not be seen to be done, because of peoples perception that her links are close, and this reason if no other is why she should resign.

One point I did  agree with her is that we are dealing with hundreds of institutions and thousands of systemic failures. However the institutions that need investigating by an independent non establishment individual are the Houses of Lords and the House of Commons which together child protection specialists estimate have about 40 paedophiles within them. The other major nexus of paedophilia has been the Home Office.

This should be video of Woolf At Select Committee, though if its not you will have to cut and paste the link as I am stumped by the technicalities.

There is also a judicial review of the her chairing the inquiry [22]


2014 July 7 Theresa May, Home Secretary announced inquiry [21]

2o14 Jul 8 Butler Sloss anounced as chair [7]

2014 Jul 14 Lady Butler-Sloss stands down from child-abuse inquiry [6]

2014 Sep 5 Fiona Woolf to replace Butler-Sloss as chair of child sex abuse inquiry [5] 

2014 Oct 18 Woolf spoke to most panel for first time [2] [8]

2014 Oct 20 Woolf spoke to Stephenson [2] [8]

2014 Oct 21 Written Statement to Parliament By Theresa May [1]

21 Oct 2014 Woolf questioned by Home Affairs Select Committee [2]

21 Oct 2014 Overarching Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry website launched [3]

12 Nov 2014 Strategy for the panel, meeting [2] [8]


[1] 2014 Oct 21 Written Statement to Parliament By Theresa May https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/child-sexual-abuse-woolf-inquiry

[2] 2014 Oct 21 Woolf Questioned by Home Affairs Select Committtee http://t.co/YKmd7acq1b

[3] Overarching Child Sexual Abuse website https://childsexualabuseinquiry.independent.gov.uk/

[4] Embed Woolf questioning http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Embed/GeneralEmbed.aspx?meeting=16146

[5] 2014 Sep 5 Guardian Fiona Woolf to replace Butler-Sloss as chair of child sex abuse inquiry http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/05/fiona-woolf-replace-butler-sloss-chair-child-sex-abuse-inquiry

[6] 2014 Jul 14 Guardian Lady Butler-Sloss stands down from child-abuse inquiry http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/14/lady-butler-sloss-stands-down-child-abuse-inquiry

[7] 2014 Jul 9 Independent Westminster abuse inquiry: Calls for ‘establishment figure’ Baroness Butler-Sloss to stand down as chair of paedophile probe http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/westminster-abuse-inquiry-calls-for-establishment-figure-baroness-butlersloss-to-stand-down-as-chair-of-paedophile-probe-9594199.html

[8] 2014 Oct 21 Needleblog Woolf at Home Affairs Select Committee http://theneedleblog.wordpress.com/2014/10/21/fiona-woolf-appearing-at-the-home-affair-select-committee/

[9] 2014 Oct 21 Fiona Woolfs letter to Home Secretary https://childsexualabuseinquiry.independent.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Letter-to-the-Home-Secretary.pdf

[10] 2005 Inquiries Act Section 9 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2005/12/section/9

[11] 2014 Oct 21 Panel Members appointed https://www.gov.uk/government/news/independent-panel-inquiry-into-child-sexual-abuse-panel-members-appointed

[12] 2014 Sep 5 Child Sexual Abuse Speech Home Office https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/child-sexual-abuse

[13] 2014 Sep 5 Fiona Woolf to chair https://www.gov.uk/government/news/fiona-woolf-cbe-jp-to-chair-child-abuse-inquiry

[14] 2014 Jul 7 Home Sec oral statement on child abuse https://www.gov.uk/government/news/home-secretary-oral-statement-on-child-abuse

[15] 2014 Jul 21 re Jul 9 Panel of experts  https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/independent-inquiry-panel-of-experts-into-child-sexual-abuse

[16] 2014 Multi agency safeguarding hubs https://www.gov.uk/government/news/working-together-to-safeguard-children-multi-agency-safeguarding-hubs

[17] 2014 July 15 Code of ethics launched https://www.gov.uk/government/news/code-of-ethics-launched

[18] 2014 Oct 11 Funding for FGM https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-funding-for-female-genital-mutilation-and-forced-marriage-prevention

[19] Vid of HASC http://youtu.be/9ILOZ2Hb0pE

[20] ITN video of Theresa Mays statement https://uk.news.yahoo.com/video/theresa-may-announces-public-inquiry-152242162.html

[21] Guardian ITN video of Theresa Mays Statement http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2014/jul/07/theresa-may-child-abuse-inquiry-westminster-video

[22] Cathy fox judicial review https://cathyfox.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/proposed-claim-for-judicial-review-of-csa-inquiry-panel-and-fiona-woolf/

About cathy fox blog on Child Abuse

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4 Responses to Overarching Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry – Woolf Inquiry

  1. joekano76 says:

    Reblogged this on Floating-voter.


  2. Pingback: Fiona Woolf – the untruth in her letter to the Home Secretary | Desiring Progress

  3. This was the Home Affairs Committee at its worst although understandable given the misconceptions and different agendas of most people who pressed for an Hillsborough style over arching inquiry. The meeting showed the danger of politicians responding the orchestrated campaign of a vociferous few and unfortunately not adequately briefed as in some respects was Mrs Woolf despite the meeting with the Home Secretary in the morning and any prep about what to expect from an appearance before the committee. It is perhaps not appreciated that all the professionals appeared before a Select committee are prepped as are the Committee Members by the Committee appointed advisers and their individual staff.

    However I want to concentrate on the important announcements of the day and suggest where the focus should be.

    The most important development is the terms of reference and the admission that Mrs Woolf was appointed as a traditional team leader to weld panel into a focused team. The terms of references could take ten years to complete if the level of documentation and thoroughness required. I recommend everyone write in asking the panel to concentrate on the cover up by governments.

    The second important development is that is that the panel are to hold regional consultations, evidence giving session and that some of these may well be held in public. This takes the panel away from a Hillsborough style documentation review into more of a CSA Inquiry.

    The third is that Mrs Woolf has already pressed the Home Secretary to provide the level of funding which an ambitious inquiry required and the impression government is that government has agreed to this.

    The fourth point is that panel has been strengthened in ways which are impressive.

    Regarding the session I though several Members showed a lack of due respect and their questioning was at times offensive to the point of bullying.
    Noteworthy they were all men with men in their thousands being the perpertrators


  4. Ian Pace says:

    Well, I was at the HASC this afternoon, and had a wholly different opinion on proceedings. I felt the committee gave Woolf rather too easy a session, with various questions which appeared probing, but really weren’t, and were easily dealt with, and a general tone of obsequiousness from the chair. Woolf nonetheless came across as knowing little about the subject, having only turned her attention to the inquiry in the last few days, seemingly unaware of why many might thing the closeness of her relationship with the Brittans to be a serious problem (not to mention some of her other connections, which did not come up), and otherwise fumbling, unfocused, and unimpressive. I cannot believe her to be the optimum choice.


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