The latest revelation that the Home Office coached independent experts on the Inquiry panel could not be helping to lure potential chairs to the table, and many candidates are perhaps weighing up the benefits of taking on such a challenge against the possibly devastating impact it may have on their careers and their kudos. If that’s the case, good riddance we say to the wimpish and the wanting, only the brave need apply.
Survivors may well be very disappointed by this news, but more contenders seem to have surfaced. There is now talk that Baroness Hale could be headed for the job. The call for Lady Hale to take up the position has come directly from survivors, but there are concerns over whether the only female judge at the Supreme Court could take what would amount to around 5 years off to lead the Inquiry. There are also documented concerns about judges leading inquiries of this nature generally, with some viewing the appointment of a judge as nothing short of allowing the executive to control what should be an otherwise independent inquiry.
Theresa May is expected to confirm the new Chair this week, as well as the structure the Inquiry is to operate in – either giving it Statutory Status or looking at other models as a vehicle for looking into child abuse in the UK, both historic and current.
It seems the UK is languishing far behind in this respect. Child Abuse Inquiries are heavily underway in other parts of the world including Australia, where a Royal Commission has been set up to investigate these crimes. Given that the UK seem to take Australia’s lead in most reformation projects relating to family policy, it would not be surprising if May decides a Royal Commission is right for the UK.
That said, it won’t be long now before we know what the Home Secretary has in store for the Inquiry and those survivors who have waited over 200 days for some sign that the government is taking child abuse seriously. Watch this space.