Lady Butler-Sloss stands down from child abuse inquiry

Butler-Sloss admits she did not sufficiently consider whether her background and family connections would cause difficulties

Lady Butler-Sloss has resigned from her position as chair of the inquiry into historic child abuse, it was announced today.

Why was Butler-Sloss not considered right for the job?

Butler-Sloss’ resignation follows widespread criticism of her appointment due to her links to the establishment, particularly her brother, the late Lord Havers, who was criticised for not taking a tougher stance on child abuse when he was attorney general in the 80s.

Havers intervened three times between 1981 and 1983 to stop the investigation and exposure of child abusers within the establishment.

It was therefore considered ‘deeply inappropriate’ by campaigners to have his sister, Lady Butler-Sloss, chairing the investigation, even though her integrity was never questioned.

Allegations have also surfaced that Butler-Sloss once wanted to exclude a bishop’s name from a child abuse report because she wanted to protect the reputation of the church. Butler-Sloss denies the claim.

The inquiry will examine how state institutions handled their duty of care to protect children from abusers following allegations of abuse committed by MPs during the 1980s and 90s.

Her resignation today follows much controversy over her appointment (see box).

In a statement released today, Lady Butler-Sloss said: “I did not sufficiently consider whether my background and the fact my brother had been attorney general would cause difficulties.”

“Nor should media attention be allowed to be diverted from the extremely important issues at stake, namely whether enough has been done to protect children from sexual abuse and hold to account those who commit these appalling crimes,” she said.

She continued: “This is a victim-orientated inquiry and those who wish to be heard must have confidence that the members of the panel will pay proper regard to their concerns and give appropriate advice to government.”

Home Secretary Theresa May said she was “deeply saddened” by Lady Butler-Sloss’ decision, but understood and respected her reasons.

“As she said herself, the work of this inquiry is more important than any individual and an announcement will be made on who will take over the chairmanship and membership of the panel as soon as possible so this important work can move forward,” May said.

There has not yet been any announcement on who will replace Lady Butler-Sloss as chair of the historic child abuse inquiry.

Downing street has revealed the appointment “may take a few days”.

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