Appointment of the Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse - Home Affairs Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

1.  There were well-publicised problems with the appointment of the Panel, which resulted in the early resignation of two previous Chairs. It is important that a Chair is now appointed who will command the confidence of survivors. (Paragraph 7)

2.  We thank all the members of the original Panel for their work. The work that has already been done, in particular the material gathered at listening meetings, must be made available to the new Panel. The original Panel was unable to operate effectively without leadership and the appointment of a Chair for the new Panel should not be delayed further. The terms of reference for the inquiry need to be established and the new Panel appointed as quickly as possible so that the inquiry team can get to work. Parliament must be kept actively informed about the future work of the inquiry. (Paragraph 13)

3.  We welcome the role of this Committee in this pre-appointment hearing, which we believe is a valuable contribution to the independence and transparency of the inquiry process. The Committee's involvement should have been invited from the start. (Paragraph 17)

4.  The controversy of the last few months has demonstrated the need for the inquiry to develop a robust methodology for dealing with the conflicting views of different contributors to the inquiry and for demonstrating transparency of the inquiry process whilst maintaining individuals' confidentiality. The panel will need to ensure that different views are heard and taken account of, and that all survivors of abuse have confidence in that process. (Paragraph 18)

The candidate

5.  Based on the information available to us, we are pleased to endorse the appointment of Justice Lowell Goddard to the post of Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. (Paragraph 20)

6.  We note that Justice Goddard had not previously been asked to write an open letter detailing her interests in time for it to be presented to this Committee; we believe that this should happen as soon as possible. We reserve the right to recall Justice Goddard, once we have received the relevant correspondence, should it disclose any new information which might give cause for concern. (Paragraph 21)

7.  Members of the Inquiry Panel should be chosen primarily for their specialist expertise and experience in areas that are likely to be covered by the investigation, as well as in providing support for survivors, and in providing redress for victims. (Paragraph 22.a)

8.  We can see the logic of Justice Goddard's comment that survivors did not need to be represented on the Panel, but only provided that a parallel Survivors' Forum is established on a formal basis, with strong links to the Inquiry Panel. Its remit, status and relationship with the Panel should be clear from the outset and it should be properly funded to provide the necessary support to its members. (Paragraph 22.b)

9.  We were encouraged by Justice Goddard's undertaking that no survivor who did not want to do so would be required to give evidence in public. The Panel should do everything within its power to ensure that survivors are able to give their best evidence, including the use of the "special measures" that are used in court to help vulnerable and intimidated witnesses and, where necessary, taking evidence in private. (Paragraph 22.c)

10.  The Home Office should re-examine the arrangements for providing funding to support survivors' participation to ensure that smaller organisations are able to access those resources. (Paragraph 22.d)

11.  The Panel should give consideration to employing its own specialist staff to provide support to survivors giving evidence. (Paragraph 22.e)

12.  The Panel should have access to all relevant Government material, including all the material discovered by the Wanless and Whittam review, and the Permanent Secretary of the Home Office should conduct a new search to establish that no relevant documents have been overlooked. (Paragraph 22.f)

13.  Careful thought needs to be given to the composition of the secretariat, in which Home Office secondees currently appear to be very well represented. Members of the secretariat should be chosen for their skills and the Panel should look well beyond the Home Office and the civil service if that is necessary to produce the right skill mix. (Paragraph 22.g)

14.  The Chair of the Inquiry should fully consult the Chairs of the Northern Ireland Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse and the Scottish national public inquiry into historical abuse of children in institutional care, with particular regard to seeking to avoid gaps between the areas covered by the various inquiries. (Paragraph 22.h)

15.  The Chair should consult the Director of Public Prosecutions to ensure that all avenues for bringing successful prosecutions against abusers are kept open. (Paragraph 22.i)

16.  The Panel should produce periodic interim reports as frequently as it sees fit but should aim to produce its first interim report as soon as possible. (Paragraph 22.j)

17.  The Panel should look to the examples of Hillsborough and Leveson as well-run, focused, and victim-centred inquiries. (Paragraph 22.k)

Appointment of the new panel and staff

18.  It is crucial that the Chair will play a full role in the selection of Panel members, that it should be clear with whom the final decision lies, and that the selection process should be fully transparent from the outset. (Paragraph 24)

19.  We are pleased that Justice Goddard will have a free hand over the appointment of the Inquiry Counsel and Secretariat, as she acknowledged when she gave evidence to us. She must be permitted to shape the Inquiry team as she thinks appropriate. (Paragraph 25)

Scope of the inquiry

20.  We recommend that the scope of the inquiry be extended to include cases of abuse in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where there is reason to believe that material relevant to the case might be held by the UK Government. This would include cases such as the Kincora Boys' Home. (Paragraph 27)

21.  We welcome the Home Secretary's announcement that she is open to giving the Panel a much earlier cut-off date than 1970, which will give a reasonable prospect of the experience of most living survivors falling within the scope of the inquiry. (Paragraph 28)

22.  We recommend that the Panel draw up terms of reference which will allow it to complete its work within a reasonable time frame, producing interim reports where necessary to ensure that key recommendations can be implemented without unnecessary delay. (Paragraph 29)

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2015
Prepared 13 February 2015