Home Secretary Theresa May has today announced the appointment of Fiona Woolf CBE, JP to lead an independent inquiry into historical child sexual abuse.
The inquiry will consider whether and the extent to which public bodies and other important institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse.
It will seek to address public concern over failings exposed by successive appalling cases of organised and persistent child sex abuse both historical and more recent.
Fiona Woolf, the current Lord Mayor of London, will be assisted by Graham Wilmer MBE, a child sexual abuse victim and founder of the Lantern Project and Barbara Hearn OBE, the former Deputy CEO of the National Children’s Bureau. Ben Emmerson QC will serve as counsel to the inquiry. Their first tasks are to finalise membership of the panel and agree terms of reference for the inquiry.
Professor Alexis Jay, the author of the recent report into abuse in Rotherham, has also agreed to act as an expert adviser to the panel.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
In recent years, we have seen appalling cases of organised and persistent child sex abuse which have exposed serious failings by public bodies and important institutions.
These failings have sent shockwaves through the country and shaken public confidence in the pillars of society in which we should have total trust.
That is why the government has announced that an independent panel of experts will consider whether such organisations have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse.
We are absolutely clear that we must learn the lessons of past failures and the panel will be instrumental in helping us to do this.
I am pleased to announce today that Fiona Woolf has been appointed to lead this inquiry. I look forward to an update on the panel’s progress in due course.
Fiona Woolf CBE said:
Ensuring lessons are learned from the mistakes which have been made in the past and resulted in children being subjected to the most horrific crimes is a vital and solemn undertaking.
I was honoured to be approached to lead such an important inquiry, and look forward to working with the panel to ensure these mistakes are identified and never repeated.