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22 December 2014updated 24 Jul 2021 7:02am

Child abuse survivors call on Theresa May to scrap and replace the current inquiry

The victims of alleged historic cases of child abuse are urging the Home Secretary to set up a whole new, more powerful, inquiry.

By Anoosh Chakelian

Further complications hit Theresa May’s perpetually beleaguered inquiry into allegations of historic cases of child abuse, as dozens of survivors are calling for it to be scrapped and replaced with a new body.

A group of past child abuse victims have written a letter to the Home Secretary, urging her to collapse the current inquiry – for which she still hasn’t managed to find a chair who isn’t inappropriately linked to the establishment – and replace it with a new, more powerful, inquiry. This new inquiry would have the power to “compel witnesses to give evidence under oath”.

The BBC reports the leaked letter to May from survivors, survivors’ groups and other relevant figures. It arrives following a meeting in which May suggested to the current inquiry’s panel that it may have to be dissolved. The letter supports this “replacement of the current panel”, in the hope to “increase confidence” in the investigation:

It is essential that those conducting the inquiry have appropriate experience, are free from strong links to prominent establishment figures or any other potential conflict of interest and have a proven track record of promoting survivors’ rights.

The letter also urges that a new inquiry to be given “statutory powers” to call witnesses under oath, with a “dedicated police team” taking evidence alongside the inquiry hearings in order to “investigate and prosecute offenders”, and to “prevent evidence being withheld or tampered with”.

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Although May is being hammered by Labour and some in the survivors’ groups for utterly failing to get this inquiry off the ground, it could be useful for her to have those affected by child abuse now dictating the terms of the investigation. This way, she is unlikely to make the same mistake as she did when Baroness Butler-Sloss and Fiona Woolf has to resign as chairs, and is at last handing power from the establishment to those who have remained unheard for so long.

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