After Fiona Woolf’s departure, victims of sexual abuse are demanding that the person chosen to investigate the Establishment paedophile cover-up should be an expert without friends in high places, says PETER FROST
Fiona Woolf has quit. The chair of the inquiry into historic child abuse resigned on Friday, making her the second chair to have gone since Home Secretary Theresa May announced the inquiry four months ago.
Representatives of the victims of abuse attending a meeting at the Home Office on Friday were unanimous in their view that Woolf’s position was untenable.
Do David Cameron, May and the rest of the Tory hierarchy really want to get to the bottom of the decades of cover-up of child abuse?
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to lose one inquiry chair is unfortunate, to lose two looks like carelessness. If the ineptitude they have shown in getting someone credible to head the inquiry is anything to go by it seems what they really want is to sweep it all back under the carpet forever.
Lord Mayor of London Woolf is linked to her Pimlico neighbour Lord Leon Brittan – they live in the same street, since 2004 had attended dinner parties in each other’s houses, while Woolf and Lady Brittan often meet at coffee mornings and charity functions – making it impossible for her to do the job with any credibility.
Lord Brittan, (above) who was in charge of the Home Office in the 1980s, is one of the chief characters in the disappearance of a least two large dossiers naming high-ranking suspects of institutionalised abuse.
Those suspects are believed to include members of the highest families in the land, government ministers at the highest level as well as senior civil servants, church leaders and the many media personalities and entertainers already exposed in previous court cases and enquiries. No wonder the Establishment wants to keep it all hushed up.
Many scandalous secrets however still lie buried and the Establishment seems determined to keep it that way. As usual what the government wants is a whitewash and they hoped City insider Woolf was the woman to wield the brush.
As long ago as June, the Morning Star was among the first to remind people of the fact that May’s first nominee Butler-Sloss just happened to be the sister of Margaret Thatcher’s attorney general, the late Michel Havers, who pretty much started this whole disgusting Establishment cover-up in the ’80s.
When the news leaked out that the second choice to head the inquiry was also close to key players in the scandal, Woolf wrote what was said to be a personal letter to the Home Secretary.
It was supposed to explain Woolf’s close relationship with Lord and Lady Brittan but was not as transparent as it could have been.
Leon Brittan is key to the inquiry because he received the dossier from the late MP Geoffrey Dickens, which later went missing. He was also involved in a second dossier that has also disappeared.
Lord Brittan’s memories of the fate of the Dickens Dossier seem a little unreliable. He had written to Dickens in 1984 saying the material had been assessed by the director of public prosecutions as worth pursuing and “passed to the appropriate authorities.”
Last year, Brittan said he could not remember getting the Dickens dossier. Later he remembered he had asked officials to look into the claims but could not remember hearing any more about it.
We now know that the letter between Woolf and May was, in fact, drafted by Home Office lawyers and rewritten seven times by those same officials.
Keith Vaz MP, the chairman of the Commons home affairs select committee, has stated that the re-writes “gave a sense of greater detachment between Lord and Lady Brittan and Mrs Woolf.”
Mr Vaz said: “Mrs Woolf’s letter to the committee raises more questions than it answers about an appointment process that has been chaotic, and a series of exchanges with the Home Office and others, where words, and sometimes even facts, have been amended.”
Woolf, a former president of the Law Society, had written a previous four-page letter about her close ties with Lord and Lady Brittan.
Now it has emerged that neither of her letters was entirely accurate. A photograph surfaced showing her chatting to Lady Brittan at a prize-giving much more recently than her letters suggested.
Simon Danczuk MP, the Labour backbencher who has played a leading role in exposing child sex abuse scandals, said the letters proved May’s Home Office had “colluded” in a “cover up.”
Victims of abuse have questioned Woolf’s credibility. Phil Frampton, a former Barnardo’s boy who campaigns for those who have been abused, said he was appalled by Woolf’s appointment. “It’s like putting Wayne Rooney in charge of an investigation of the nuclear energy industry,” he told the BBC.
An early day motion tabled by Lib Dem MP John Leech calls on the government “to find a new chair of the inquiry who has palpably demonstrated its willingness to challenge all quarters of the Establishment to ensure that it can achieve its aims of providing justice to the victims of historic child abuse.”
Lawyer Alison Millar, who represents child abuse victims, attended a Home Office meeting on Friday along with several victims of historic child abuse that proved to be the last straw for Woolf. Millar said the revelations showed Woolf was not fit to oversee the official inquiry.
Following the resignation, Labour leader Ed Miliband accused the Home Office of “gross incompetence” in not consulting victims’ groups over her appointment. “It seems inexplicable, given what happened to the first head of the inquiry, that some basic questions were not asked of Fiona Woolf, before she was appointed, about her connections,” he said.
Despite all their bluster, Cameron and his Home Secretary aren’t really interested in the truth about the cesspit of abuse at the heart of the Tory Party and the British Establishment generally.
Twice they have appointed someone to wield the whitewash brush as has happened so often in the past.
With at least eight ongoing police investigations into Establishment-linked child sex abuse cases, the inquiry provides a useful distraction from the real detective work of bringing these high-profile abusers to book.
What is certain is that, after Woolf’s resignation and demands from victims for an independent judge-led inquiry, May can’t afford to make another false move.