MPs met this afternoon to talk about their concerns and the latest developments in relation to the Independent Panel Inquiry, and below we have added a few of the key points that were raised:
Simon Danczuk (Labour MP for Rochdale) made the following statements:
- Just over 100 candidates are now being considered for the role of Chair for this inquiry
- There needs to be a central role for survivors
- At a recent meeting with the Home Secretary, there was a vote in favour of making the inquiry a statutory one under the 2005 Inquiries Act (this would essentially give the inquiry greater powers such as ensuring all evidence is given under oath and legal consequences could be implemented against individuals who destroy relevant evidence which would involve criminal sanctions). All those present voted unanymously in favour of making the inquiry a statutory one.
- There needed to be proper support in place for survivors
- Conditions need to be created to allow survivors to come forward
Tim Loughton (Conservative MP for East Worthing and Shoreham):
- A Chair needs to be appointed immediately, or dual Chairs if necessary
- The Inquiry should be led by a judge. UK judges have been approached but have all declined the position, seeing it as a poisoned chalice. It may be necessary to look abroad for a judge who can fit the position and who will take it on.
- Survivors should sit on the panel
- Make the inquiry a statutory one
- Create a sounding board panel of survivors who are consulted not just at the beginning of the inquiry but throughout
Zac Goldsmith (Conservative MP for Richmond Park):
- There needs to be an assurance by the Home Office that all Ministries and Government agencies will not to destroy any documents that are even remotely connected to child sex abuse.
John Hemming (Lib Dem MP for Birmingham, Yardley):
- Approached Michael Mansfield personally, who agreed to chair the panel, but has not yet managed to persuade the Home Secretary to appoint him.
- One in seven children in care are being subjected to abuse
- It needs to be harder for state employees to conceal abuses of power. More transparency and accountability are needed, as well as less secrecy.
Other notable comments included the confirmation by the The Home Secretary that the chair can decide whether to make the inquiry statutory, and that whilst a Chair has not yet been appointed and a date for that appointment not yet known, the process is underway.
An update on the panel’s activities was also given, although there was some concern amongst the speakers at the meeting that much of what was taking place might not be considered official without a Chair at the helm. Nevertheless, the panel is currently working, and has done or is doing the following:
- It is meeting weekly in the run-up to Christmas.
- Panel members have already attended two listening meetings with victims and survivors.
- Two further regional meetings will be held before Christmas, and four regional meetings will be held in the new year.
- The meetings will provide an early opportunity for survivors to give their views, and they will help to inform the panel on how to go about its work.
We’ll bring you more news as we get it, though as you can see, the inquiry is clearly not going to go full steam ahead for a while yet. You can read the full transcript from the meeting here.