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Historical child sexual abuse inquiry to open on 9 July

July 9, 2015 ·  By UK for www.bbc.com

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Justice Lowell Goddard has experience of a similar inquiry in New Zealand

Justice Lowell Goddard has experience of a similar inquiry in New Zealand

The independent inquiry into historical child sexual abuse in England and Wales will be formally opened next Thursday, it has been announced.

Inquiry chairwoman Lowell Goddard will give an opening statement which will set out its guiding principles.

Justice Goddard will outline how the inquiry will be run, timescales, how evidence will be taken and areas of public life that will be examined.

The inquiry was set up by the home secretary in March.

Justice Goddard took up her post the following month. Her appointment followed the resignation of two chairwomen amid concerns over their links with the establishment.

Working with victims

On the opening day, Justice Goddard will summarise the steps taken to build the framework for the inquiry’s work and provide information and clarity around the task ahead.

The New Zealand High Court judge’s opening statement will also explain the various ways in which the inquiry is working with victims and how they will be able to engage in the process.

The inquiry panel comprises Justice Goddard, Prof Alexis Jay of Strathclyde University, Drusilla Sharpling of the police inspectorate, Prof Malcolm Evans of Bristol University, and child protection barrister Ivor Frank.

The counsel and solicitor to the inquiry will also be present at the opening, as will the secretary to the inquiry. It will take place at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre Centre in Westminster.

Justice Goddard, who was appointed to the New Zealand High Court in 1995, has previously led an inquiry into police handling of child abuse cases in that country.

Paedophile claims

Claims of an establishment cover-up of historical child sex abuse involving public figures, including politicians, prompted Home Secretary Theresa May to announce two inquiries in July 2014.

The inquiry, which will have statutory powers, will investigate whether “public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales”.

Baroness Butler-Sloss, Mrs May’s first choice as inquiry chairwoman, resigned a week after it was set up. She faced calls to quit because her late brother, Sir Michael Havers, was attorney general in the 1980s.

Her replacement, Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf, stood down on 31 October amid concerns over her links to former Home Secretary Lord Brittan.

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