The second chair of the so-called independent inquiry into historic child sex abuse cases has resigned, according to the BBC.
Fiona Woolf said she wanted to “get out of the way” after it became clear that victims did not have any confidence in her.
To the Tories, you see, image is everything – and it had been made abundantly clear to Mrs Woolf that hers was tarnished by her freely-admitted association with Leon Brittan, a man who, as Home Secretary during the 1980s, managed to lose a dossier containing the names of more than 100 alleged child sex offenders, including some prominent Conservative Party members (if rumours are to be believed).
The association made her as suspicious to victims’ groups as her forerunner, Baroness Butler-Sloss, whose own name was unavoidably linked with that of the late Sir Michael Havers, attorney-general during the 1980s, whose behaviour has also been called into question by allegations that he tried to hush up child sex abuse allegations against prominent members of the Establishment.
And these were all Establishment figures in their own right. Mrs Woolf had tried to distance herself from these claims by making assurances that she herself was not a member of the Establishment – but her case was lost before she even made it. She is, you see, the Lord Mayor of London.
This second resignation from an inquiry that is supposed to be independent, by a chairperson who had clear ties to people she would have been investigating, has raised renewed claims that the current Home Secretary, Theresa May, has not carried out ‘due diligence’ when considering who to appoint.
Mrs May seems to be caught between a rock and a hard place. She has to appoint someone who is acceptable to the Conservative Party, but who is also acceptable to the general public – and the public has serious issues with her choices for the reason laid out in this very blog less than a month ago: Will a Conservative-led government ever find someone to chair this inquiry who is free of any alleged connections to its subject matter?
And the longer this drags on, the more suspicious the entire situation will seem. People will start asking more deeply disturbing questions. Logically, the first will be whether Mrs May has encountered so much difficulty in appointing a chairperson because the Conservatives want to influence the inquiry’s outcome, to ensure that nobody connected with them is ever implicated.
You see, image is everything to the Tories, especially with a general election taking place in the not-too-distant future.
David Cameron had given his backing to the choice of Mrs Woolf – as, if memory serves, he did to the choice of Baroness Butler-Sloss – so the resignation calls his judgement into question.
Then again, it seems that almost everything said about Cameron these days calls his judgement into question, whether it is his cavalier attitude to the NHS privatisation started by his former boss Andrew Lansley (that he didn’t understand), his keenness to award NHS contracts to Tory donors, his (alleged) failure to take an interest in the European Union’s re-evaluation of membership fees until he was presented with a bill for £1.7 billion this week, or any of the many other bombshells that seem to be bursting around him every day.
A report in Thursday’s Guardian has accused him of misleading the public over the total amount of his government’s planned austerity cuts that have been implemented during the current Parliament. Cameron said four-fifths of the process was complete, while the Institute for Fiscal Studies said more than half were still to come into force.
Never mind Fiona Woolf’s resignation – isn’t it time we demanded Cameron’s?
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