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A letter to Core Participants from Professor Alexis Jay OBE

8 September 2016

It is nearly a month since I took up my post as the new Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. I have spent my working life trying to help some of society's most vulnerable people, investigating institutional failure, and recommending ways to stop past failures being repeated. Its scale and scope are a substantial challenge, but the Panel and I are absolutely committed to delivering results with pace, confidence and clarity.

I would like to reassure any victim or survivor who is concerned that their experience may be excluded from our work that I have no intention of asking the Home Secretary to revise or reduce our terms of reference. I am confident that we can adapt our working methods to make our task more manageable and to progress with our work more quickly. For that reason, on my second day as Chair, I ordered an internal review of the Inquiry's approach to its investigations. My aim is to explore new ways to deliver the Inquiry’s investigative work while remaining faithful to its terms of reference.  I will write to you again when the review process has concluded to tell you about any changes that we propose to make and to invite your views.  

There has been some criticism that too many of our staff come from the Home Office.  In fact, less than a quarter of our staff are formerly from the Home Office. Their duty and loyalty is to the Inquiry and not to any Government Department.  Regardless of their background, the Inquiry staff are bound together by a commitment to make this Inquiry a success, drawing on skills and expertise from the public and private sectors.

It is an operational challenge to mount an Inquiry of this magnitude.  We are making progress. We have a new evidence management system in place which will help our legal teams process the evidence we have been receiving. We have opened Inquiry offices in Cardiff, in Darlington, and in Liverpool. In the coming months, we will open our office in Exeter.  We have held eleven preliminary hearings across seven of the thirteen investigations.  

Inquiry staff are busy working with grassroots organisations that represent victims and survivors of child sexual abuse. In this task, the Inquiry has been greatly assisted by the members of the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel to whom I extend my personal thanks. We have started hearing directly from victims and survivors via our Truth Project, and we are preparing to hold our first victims and survivors forum following a successful pilot last month.

The Panel and I intend to be more visible as we move forward and to keep you regularly informed about the work of the Inquiry.

My appointment as Chair marks the start of a new phase. I very much look forward to working with you as the Inquiry continues.

Alexis Jay signature

Professor Alexis Jay OBE

Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

A pdf copy of this letter can be found in our library

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