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David Cameron backs child abuse probe judge Baroness Butler-Sloss, sister of former attorney general Michael Havers

By Staff Reporter

David Cameron remains confident that Baroness Butler-Sloss is the right person to lead the Government's inquiry into allegations that Establishment figures conspired to cover up child abuse, Downing Street has said.

The former High Court judge faced calls to step down after reports that her brother Sir Michael Havers tried to prevent ex-MP Geoffrey Dickens airing claims about a diplomat in Parliament in the 1980s.

"I know absolutely nothing about it," she told the BBC. "If people think I am not suitable, then that's up to them."

The Home Office said Lady Butler-Sloss's integrity was "beyond reproach" and it stood "unreservedly" by her appointment.

Asked whether Mr Cameron was confident she should head the inquiry, the Prime Minister's official spokesman told a Westminster media briefing: "Yes. She commands the very highest respect for her professional expertise and integrity.

"His view is that she does command widespread respect and confidence, and rightly so."

Following Lady Butler-Sloss's appointment, there have been growing expressions of concern that the cross-bench peer is too closely tied to the Establishment to carry out the inquiry announced by Home Secretary Theresa May this week.

Labour MP Simon Danczuk, whose questions helped put the issue centre-stage, said: "We want somebody in the chair that exudes confidence and that's not the case. She is part of the Establishment and that raises concerns, and the relationship in terms of her brother, I think, is too close for comfort. I think that's the conclusion most people will reach.

"I think the Government should think again in terms of who they have appointed for this position."

Sir Michael – an MP who became Lord Havers before his death in 1992 – is said to have had a 20-minute argument outside the Commons with Mr Dickens in the 1980s in a bid to stop him using parliamentary privilege to name diplomat Sir Peter Hayman as a paedophile.

Mr Danczuk added: "I think she should consider her position. I find it quite surprising that neither she nor the Government realised her relationship with her brother was connected to Geoffrey Dickens and all the palaver around it.

"It beggars belief that that hadn't been considered in the first place."

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