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PM backs Woolf's abuse inquiry role

The Prime Minister continues to support the appointment of the Lord Mayor of London to chair an inquiry into child sex abuse, after questions about her links with former home secretary Leon Brittan, Downing Street has said.

City lawyer Fiona Woolf was named on Friday as chair of the independent inquiry, after first choice Lady Butler-Sloss stepped down in July amid claims of a conflict of interest because her brother was attorney general at the time some of the alleged abuse occurred.

But within days, questions were asked about the new chair's position, after it emerged she is a neighbour of Lord Brittan and sits on the board of a City of London conference with the former home secretary. The Mail on Sunday also reported that Mrs Woolf sat on a prize-giving panel with Lord Brittan's wife and sponsored her in a fun run.

Lord Brittan is likely to be called to give evidence to the inquiry over a dossier he received from MP Geoffrey Dickens in 1983, documenting the alleged involvement of VIP figures in a child sex ring.

Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who has led the campaign for an inquiry, said Mrs Woolf's position would be "untenable" if she was close to the Brittans.

Asked if the Prime Minister was happy for Mrs Woolf to remain chair of the inquiry, Mr Cameron's official spokesman told a regular Westminster media briefing: "The PM's view is unchanged, which is about his strong support for and his gratitude to Fiona Woolf for taking this on.

"His view remains about her suitability and that of the other panel members who have already been announced. What he knows is that she has and will bring the experience from her very distinguished career."

Mrs Woolf's appointment was made by Home Secretary Theresa May, but the PM's spokesman confirmed that Downing Street was involved in and fully supported the choice.


From Belfast Telegraph