16 December 2016
National Child Sex Abuse Inquiry Will Not be Scaled Back
The national inquiry into child sexual abuse will retain all of its investigations, its chairwoman has announced following an internal review.
Professor Alexis Jay rejected calls to reduce significantly the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse’s remit, saying it would not be scaled back.
During a press conference, Professor Jay announced plans to make recommendations in an interim report by March 2018, with hopes to make “substantial progress” by 2020.
Former chair, Dame Goddard previously cited an “inherent problem” due to the “sheer scale and size” of the inquiry.
The work of this inquiry has never been more important. We will have to wait to see how, in reality, today’s changes impact on the ability of the inquiry to reach robust conclusions.
Following the review Professor Jay said: "There have been suggestions that the remit of the inquiry is too broad to succeed. I disagree. Its scope is a virtue, allowing it to recommend fundamental changes beyond the reach of an inquiry with a narrower remit."
In the interest of the 67 core participants I am representing, and the further victims of abuse who may have not yet come forward, we welcome this announcement.
The work of this inquiry has never been more important. We will have to wait to see how, in reality, today’s changes impact on the ability of the inquiry to reach robust conclusions. The devil may be in the detail - we will need to understand how substantial the intended hearings are going to be.
But for the inquiry to fulfil its obligations to the many survivors of abuse, it has to carry out a robust examination – using its statutory powers to get hold of crucial documents and interrogate key decision-makers under oath. Any watering down of that forensic approach would be a betrayal of victims.
The child abuse inquiry in Australia is rapidly and effectively examining institutional failings and holding the powerful to account - proof positive that this can and should be done.
Currently the inquiry is investigating 13 different strands spanning several decades and examining a host of different institutions.
The inquiry is proposing changes to the scope and timing of the public hearing for the investigation into the institutional responses to allegations of sexual abuse involving the late Lord Janner.
In relation to cases where it is alleged that persons of prominence have used improper influence to avoid prosecution the inquiry must also deploy its statutory powers and undertake forensic investigation. It is reasonable for the inquiry to want to avoid duplicating work already undertaken, but complainants need to be certain that all proper lines of inquiry are being properly pursued and that, upon completion of its work, the inquiry can give a detailed and forensic response to the allegations.
Richard Scorer is a principal lawyer in the abuse team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
Slater and Gordon have the UK’s most experienced team of abuse lawyers and are currently representing over 800 survivors of abuse, including a woman who was allegedly groomed and sexually abused by Olympic coach, Darrell Bunn.
We offer a free and completely confidential consultation to anyone affected by sexual abuse. Call us anytime 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.