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Official announcement of the Inquiry’s statutory powers, Panel and Terms of Reference

12 March 2015

Written ministerial statement from Theresa May and accompanying written statement from the incoming Chair of the Inquiry

On the 12 March 2015, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, made a written statement establishing the Inquiry as a statutory inquiry, the Panel and the Inquiry’s terms of reference. Her statement can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2015-03-12/HCWS371.

Statement from the Home Secretary:

On 4 February 2015 I made a statement to the House announcing my intention to appoint Justice Lowell Goddard to head the Independent Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry, and that I would be disbanding the former Inquiry and would be setting up a new statutory inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act. I am pleased to be able to confirm today the setting up of the statutory Independent Inquiry in to Child Sexual Abuse, Justice Goddard’s appointment as Chairman and the appointment of the Panel to the Inquiry. Justice Goddard appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee in a pre-appointment hearing on 11 February. The Committee subsequently published a report unanimously endorsing her appointment and making a number of recommendations. I will be writing to the Committee today with the Government response to that report. From today, Thursday 12 March 2014, the Inquiry will be set up with statutory powers to compel witnesses to determine whether State and non-State institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse within England and Wales.

Having heard the concerns of survivors that the appointment of the former Panel was not transparent, we published the criteria for appointing the Panel online. This can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-inquiry-into-child-sexual-abuse-criteria-for-panel. A copy was also placed in the House Library. The criteria were based on skills, expertise and due diligence and included the need for objectivity and professionalism. We were also explicit that Panel members should have no direct links to key institutions or individuals reasonably likely to be covered by the Inquiry.

We considered all nominations for membership of the Panel, those who expressed interest in being on the Panel and those who were nominated as part of the process to appoint a Chairman. In consultation with Justice Goddard, I have decided to appoint four Panel members, who have the range of skills and expertise required to take forward and lead the important work of the Panel in supporting the Chairman. The Panel members chosen are those who were assessed as most strongly matching these criteria. A statement of assessment against the criteria for each Panel member will be published, along with their conflict of interest declaration, on the Inquiry website in due course.

I have consulted Justice Goddard and I am pleased to be able to confirm today, that the Panel will consist of Drusilla Sharpling, Professor Alexis Jay, Ivor Frank and Malcolm Evans. Together, these individuals will represent a wide range of experience and expertise. Drusilla Sharpling is a qualified barrister with expertise in both policing and the Crown Prosecution Service; Professor Alexis Jay has expertise in social work and led the important work on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham; Ivor Frank has extensive experience in family and human rights law, and expertise in child protection matters; Malcolm Evans is Chairman of the United Nations Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture and professor of Public International Law at the University of Bristol. Malcolm also brings with him a Welsh perspective, which survivors have called for. In addition, the Panel will be informed by a number of expert advisers in the fields of health, education, and a psychologist with expertise in this sensitive area. All Panel members will be formally appointed subject to their conflict of interest declarations and the appropriate security checks.

I also said I would review the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry in light of feedback from survivors. I have consulted with Justice Goddard and have agreed with her the final Terms of Reference which will also be placed in the House Library today and published on the Inquiry website. The two most important changes are the removal of any cut-off date for the work of the Inquiry and, reflecting the importance of survivors to the Inquiry, the explicit statement that survivors will be able to bear witness to the Inquiry and that support will be made available.

Survivors have been instrumental in the setting up of this statutory Inquiry. Both Justice Goddard and I are clear that they must also have a strong voice in the work of the Inquiry as it now moves forward. Justice Goddard will be writing to survivors and their representatives shortly to set out her intention to create a Survivors and Victims’ Consultative Panel and to seek their views on how this will work and who should be on it. This Panel will have a specific role and function within the Inquiry. I know that survivors were also keen that the Inquiry extended beyond England and Wales. However, as child protection is a devolved matter, it is right that other jurisdictions in the United Kingdom look at the issues within their own geographical remit so that they can take the action which is right to address the specific issues uncovered. I have said before, I am clear that no institution or individual should be able to fall through the gaps because of geographical boundaries.

The Terms of Reference make clear that the Inquiry will liaise with its counterparts elsewhere in the United Kingdom. To that end my officials have had initial discussions with the Scottish Government, who are in the process of setting up their own inquiry, the Hart Inquiry in Northern Ireland and the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry and have agreed with them and with the Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry that joint protocols will be set up with each inquiry to ensure that information can be shared and lines of investigation can be followed across geographical boundaries.

The protocols will be published by the Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry in due course. Additionally, as I made clear when I addressed the House on the 4 February, the Inquiry will have the full cooperation of Government and access to all relevant information.

I am confident that the new statutory Inquiry, under the chairmanship of Justice Goddard, will challenge individuals and institutions without fear or favour and get to the truth. This will not be an easy task but I believe the Inquiry now has the right leadership, individuals and powers to make this happen.

I wish Justice Goddard and the Panel every success as they now move forward with this important work. The Inquiry’s website can be found at https://www.iicsa.org.uk.

Statement from the Chair of the Inquiry:

I am pleased to advise that the new statutory Inquiry into institutional responses to child sexual abuse has been formally established by the Home Secretary. I have accepted the Home Secretary’s invitation to chair the Inquiry and have discussed with her both the terms of reference and the appointment of the panel members to carry forward the Inquiry’s work.

The best way to ensure that the Inquiry can conduct its work effectively and efficiently is by the appointment of a small and committed working panel. Under my direction, the panel members will take an active leadership role in supervising and shaping defined areas of the Inquiry’s investigative work. The appointments of Dru Sharpling, Professor Malcolm Evans, Ivor Frank and Alexis Jay to the Inquiry panel have ensured there is a panel membership with proven leadership skills and a wealth of professional experience in the objective and focused analysis and evaluation of complex evidential material. To support the panel in its work I will, over the coming months, also appoint a number of professional advisers to provide specialist expertise to the Inquiry in relation to particular institutional sectors and importantly in the area of academic research and methodology.

I fully agree with the Home Secretary’s view that the experiences of victims and survivors need to be placed at the centre of the Inquiry’s work. Victims and survivors must be give a strong voice and they will play a defined role in the institutional arrangements I intend putting in place. As I explained during my evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee, I do not, however, consider the best or most appropriate way of achieving victim and survivor input to be by appointing one or two victims or survivors as members of the Inquiry panel.

I reached this conclusion on two bases. First, because the appointment of victims or survivors to the panel will not, in my view, be consistent with the objectivity, independence and impartiality that is required of members of an independent panel who are required to act in a quasi-judicial capacity in the course of the Inquiry. Secondly, because it became clear to me during my consultations with representatives of victims and survivors groups that they reflect a wide range of divergent experiences and views. Therefore the selection of only one or two victims or survivors to serve on the Inquiry panel could not adequately reflect the broad cross-section of experience and opinion across all victim and survivor groups; and could not do justice to the collective input that is required from victims and survivors.

I have decided instead to establish a Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel (VSCP) which will be closely involved in the work of the Inquiry and will provide advice and guidance to myself and the panel as the Inquiry proceeds. There will be eight members of the VSCP, nominated by victims and survivors, who will bring a representative cross-section of experience and opinion. The VSCP will be funded out of the Inquiry’s overall budget and those appointed to the VSCP will receive an honorarium for their contribution to the work of the Inquiry and will be entitled to reimbursement of travel and other expenses. I am currently considering appropriate terms of reference for the VSCP and an appropriate procedure for nomination or application. I will shortly publish the criteria for appointment and put out a public call for nominations and applications. Nominations for applications to the VSCP will need to be supported by a statement explaining why the person nominated is suitable for appointment. The selection will then be made in consultation with the Inquiry panel.

In addition to the VSCP, the Inquiry Secretariat will facilitate the establishment of a broader network of victims and survivors, which will allow for wider participation in the work of the Inquiry. This less formal network will provide a forum through which victims and survivors, and their representatives can exchange information and ideas with one another and convey their views to the Inquiry. Membership will be by self selection. The Secretariat will provide simple organisational facilities for this liaison network, and will set up and run meetings at regular intervals. Attendees at the forums will be entitled to reimbursement of their travel and expenses.

I am confident that the arrangements which I intend putting in place will enable the widest possible participation by victims and survivors in the work of the Inquiry and will ensure that all those who wish their voices to be heard will have an opportunity to contribute to this vitally important undertaking.

Yours faithfully,

Hon. Justice Goddard DNZM

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