Baroness Butler-Sloss to lead child abuse inquiry

Peer led Cleveland child abuse inquiry in late 1980s that influenced Children Act 1989

Retired senior judge Baroness Butler-Sloss has been appointed to chair the new independent inquiry into public institutions’ handling of child abuse allegations.

Butler-Sloss, formerly the highest family court judge in England, led the Cleveland child abuse inquiry in the late 1980s. The Cleveland scandal had led to 121 children being removed from their families. The findings of Butler Sloss’s report were incorporated into the Children Act 1989.

Her appointment to lead the new inquiry was confirmed this afternoon by home secretary Theresa May. Butler-Sloss said she was “honoured” to be invited to lead the inquiry and she would be appointing a panel and setting out a terms of reference “as soon as possible”.

Announcing the peer’s appointment, May said: “In recent years we have seen appalling cases of organised and persistent child sex abuse that have exposed serious failings by public bodies and important institutions.

“That is why the government has established an independent panel of experts to consider whether these organisations have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse. I am pleased to announce today that Baroness Butler-Sloss has been appointed to lead this inquiry.”

May announced the inquiry in a statement to MPs on Monday. She also said a separate review, led by the NSPCC’s Peter Wanless, will investigate the Home Office’s handling of allegations of child sex abuse contained in a dossier handed over in the 1980s by former conservative MP Geoff Dickens.

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