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Child abuse inquiry 'will continue'


Fiona Woolf stepped down as chairman of the historical sex abuse inquiry last week

Fiona Woolf stepped down as chairman of the historical sex abuse inquiry last week

Fiona Woolf stepped down as chairman of the historical sex abuse inquiry last week

The Government is determined to press on with the inquiry into historical child sex abuse despite the loss of its chairman, the Leader of the Commons William Hague has said.

Mr Hague acknowledged that there was a need to restore momentum into the inquiry following the resignation last week of Fiona Woolf over her links with the Westminster establishment.

He insisted however that the inquiry panel would be able to continue with its work while a new chairman was found.

"We are determined that this inquiry will happen and will be able to do its work. There are so many deeply disturbing things for it to look into," the told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show.

"Clearly some terrible things have happened over many years. We have got to find out the truth about that. So we have to somehow maintain and restore the momentum of this work."

The resignation of Mrs Woolf - just three months after her predecessor Baroness Butler-Sloss was forced to step down for similar reasons - was a huge blow for Home Secretary Theresa May.

Mrs Woolf, a senior tax lawyer who is the current Lord Mayor of London, had been under pressure following the disclosure of her links with the former home secretary Lord Brittan whose conduct is expected to come under scrutiny during the inquiry.

He faces claims that he failed to act on a dossier containing allegations of paedophile activity in the 1980s.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the most important thing was to rebuild the credibility of the inquiry.

She also called on Mrs May to meet with survivors of abuse and to establish a survivors' forum to run alongside it.

The Labour frontbencher told Sky News' Murnaghan programme that the inquiry needed to get going sooner rather than later because of the serious issues at stake.

And she urged the Government to publish the Wanless review of the Home Office's alleged failure to act on child abuse claims in the 1980s.

Ms Cooper also reiterated her call for wider reform to current child protection legislation, including the introduction of mandatory reporting of knowledge or suspicions of abuse.

Lord Carlile said there were two prerequisites for the person appointed chairman or woman - that he or she is not a parliamentarian and that they have the necessary expertise in dealing with evidential issues involving child protection or child abuse.

The Liberal Democrat peer was quick to rule himself out on that basis.

He would not name any candidates, but suggested one of the Court of Appeal judges could be released from their duties to take up the post.

Alternatively, a recently retired senior judge could do the job, he added.

He told Sky News' Murnaghan programme: "The politics has to be taken out of this.

"If the Lord Chief Justice could be persuaded to release a senior judge to do this job I think that would be ideal.

"There is no particular reason why it should be a woman but there are, as it happens, seven women who are members of the Court of Appeal, Lady Justices.

"Alternatively, there are some recently retired judges from the Court of Appeal who would do a very good job if they were persuaded and willing to do it.

"We must remember too that there's quite a big world north of Watford. There are an awful lot of people with great ability who could carry out this inquiry who are not part of the Westminster village or the political scene."

Asked about judges' status as part of the establishment, he replied: "You would be surprised how independent judges are to politics.

"There are plenty of people to choose from. They must be asked the right questioned to ensure there is not a conflict of interest."