Friday, 27 November 2015

Abuse inquiry head judge to name institutions to be examined

Other lines of inquiry include allegations of a cover-up involving the abuse committed by Peter Ball, the former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester over three decades, the allegations of abuse at the Medomsley Detention Centre in Durham – estimated to be almost 1,000 in total – as well as looking at the response of abuse allegations by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

One of 12 separate strands set out by Justice Goddard on Friday was an “objective fact-finding” inquiry into allegations of abuse by “people of public prominence associated with Westminster”.
Britain’s child sex abuse probe will investigate churches, schools and MPs as part of its “ambitious” inquiry, chairman Justice Lowell Goddard revealed today.

Councils in Lambeth, Nottinghamshire and Rochdale will also be probed, inquiry chair Justice Lowell Goddard has announced.

The New Zealand judge did not name any individuals.

It would consider the experience of Chichester, a diocese “beset by allegations of sexual abuse, and subject to numerous investigations, reviews and inquiries”, Justice Goddard said (News, 24 August, 2012).

The inquiry was set up a year ago following claims of a high-level cover up of abuse in Westminster and a wide range of other British institutions.

The investigations falls into two categories – institution-specific and thematic.

Simon Bass, from the Churches Child Protection Advisory Service, told Premier churches should be trustworthy places: “The Church by-and-large is a place of safety and sanctuary, but clearly it’s also a place where individuals have been harmed – and often by those individuals in positions of authority”. From the outset, we have taken these allegations seriously, and devoted a great deal of time and effort to look into them, support survivors and the police investigations.

Most, if not all of the investigations, will culminate in public hearings, she said.

The chairwoman announced investigations which form the first phase of its live evidence sessions, after months of research and private interviews with victims and survivors of child sex abuse. To run 12 investigations in parallel represents an organisational challenge that is unprecedented in a public inquiry in the United Kingdom.

“The scale of child sexual abuse in this country requires urgent and careful attention”, the judge said. Justice Goddard said her aim of the inquiry’s work being finished within five years is “achievable”.