The brother of a retired judge who quit her post as chair of an inquiry into historic sex abuse tried to limit an official investigation into Kincora Boys' Home, it has been revealed.
Baroness Butler-Sloss stood down yesterday – before she had even started the task of examining if alleged abuse by politicians and other figures in the 1970s and 80s was covered up.
Pressure was mounting on her since her appointment last Tuesday, with critics warning of potential conflicts of interest because the investigation was likely to look into the role of her late brother, Sir Michael Havers.
Sir Michael, a former Attorney General, is alleged to have tried to prevent the naming of an abuser in Parliament in the 1980s. It has now emerged that Sir Michael also limited an investigation into Kincora, the east Belfast boys' home where dozens of children were abused.
Three senior staff were jailed in 1981 for the abuse, but there have long been allegations of a mass cover-up by the secret service, which was said to be protecting high-ranking paedophiles in the military, Civil Service and politics.
An inquiry headed by Judge William Hughes was set up by Secretary of State James Prior in 1984.
It has now emerged that Sir Michael, Attorney General from 1979 to 1987, briefed the judge and ensured he kept within restricted terms of reference.
Judge Hughes was unhappy that he was blocked from investigating claims that high-profile politicians visited Kincora, and prevented from summoning all potential witnesses.
Sir Michael briefed Judge Hughes – an old friend – ahead of the Kincora inquiry, Whitehall sources told the investigative news website Exaro.
Lady Butler-Sloss said: "It has become apparent over the last few days... that there is a widespread perception, particularly among victim and survivor groups, that I am not the right person to chair the inquiry.
"It has also become clear to me that I did not sufficiently consider whether my background and the fact my brother had been Attorney General would cause difficulties.
"Having listened to the concerns of victim and survivor groups and the criticisms of MPs and the media, I have come to the conclusion that I should not chair this inquiry."
Story so far
Elizabeth Butler-Sloss was to examine if alleged abuse by powerful figures in the 1970s and 1980s was covered up. But her appointment was engulfed in controversy because she was viewed as an establishment figure herself. Her late brother, Tory MP Sir Michael Havers, was Attorney General during the 1980s. It has been claimed that he tried to cover up abuse by establishment figures at the time.
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