Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Payne seeks job working for victims

Sara Payne, whose daughter Sarah was murdered by a paedophile, has put herself forward as a candidate to become Victims' Commissioner.

The mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne has put herself forward as a candidate to replace Louise Casey as Victims' Commissioner.

Sara Payne held the position of Victims' Champion for a year to pave the way for a longer-term appointment of a Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses.

Following Ms Casey's resignation as the first commissioner on Wednesday, Ms Payne has signalled that she wants to fill the post to promote the interests of victims and witnesses.

Ms Payne - whose daughter Sarah was murdered aged eight by Roy Whiting in West Sussex in 2000 - said she would aim to give the post a higher public profile.

But first she said pressure needed to be placed on the Government to keep the position amid reports that the Ministry of Justice was reviewing whether the role should be retained.

Ms Payne, who has battled back from ill health, said: "I'm feeling much stronger now following my stroke and I feel that I'm ready to get back to it.

"I feel that the one thing that Louise Casey could have done better was to be louder. What I think needs to happen now is for a bit of pressure to be put on the Government to keep the position because there is talk about it not being kept."

After 18 months as commissioner, Ms Casey will now head the Government's broad response to the riots in the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

In her resignation letter to Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke, she said she had seen "a glimpse of some of the worst acts of human nature" and also "the very best of human behaviour".

Ms Payne's friend and fellow child welfare campaigner at Phoenix Chief Advocates, Shy Keenan, said: "As we give a respectful nod of thanks for all the work Louise Casey has done in the last 18 months and wish her every success in her new role, we not only hope this crucial post remains, but also that the Ministry of Justice will now reconsider Sara Payne MBE for this position."