Top Lawyer Quits Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry
Another senior lawyer has resigned from the already troubled Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse within Anglican and Catholic churches.
Leading lawyer steps down
Aileen McColgan, who is leading the inquiry’s investigation, has quit over concerns regarding the inquiry’s leadership and the way it had previously responded to the resignation of lawyers instructed by it. Furthermore, BBC Newsnight reports that two other senior lawyers are also threatening to step down over similar concerns.
A spokeswoman for the inquiry said:
“We have a large legal team comprising a number of junior counsel, senior counsel and solicitors. They come and go subject to their professional obligations and we are not commenting on specifics.”
The inquiry has seen a number of high profile figures resign since it was launched two years ago. The current chair, Professor Alexis Jay, is the fourth person to head the inquiry after the previous judge, Dame Lowell Goddard stepped down earlier this year, again over concerns and criticisms surrounding her leadership.
In September, Ben Emmerson – the inquiry’s lead council – was suspended and then resigned a day later amid allegations of sexual assault. His junior colleague, Elizabeth Prochaska, also stood down.
Call for transparency
Chair of the House of Commons home affairs select committee, Yvette Cooper, has called on the inquiry to be ‘more transparent’. Miss Cooper added that her committee would be pursuing evidence from McColgan about why she quit. She went on to say:
“This is a really important inquiry into historic child abuse and it has had a very difficult two-year history so far. What we want is for it to get back on track. There are a lot of survivors depending on it to do a good job.
“We have contacted the other lawyers who have resigned and we have asked them for written evidence and I hope we will be able to do so with Aileen McColgan as well.
“If we can have some transparency about the things that have gone wrong in the past then that will help us be confident that it is all back on track now.”
“We are in a difficult interim position at the moment, because we know that there were a lot of problems under the previous chair. We don’t know what they were and she’s refused to give oral evidence to us.
“We have a gap now before the new chair has had the chance to set out the results of her review into the inquiry. Prof Jay did an extremely good job on the inquiry she did into Rotherham. And it is important that she should be able to set out her conclusions about how the inquiry should go forward.
“We are caught between those two with a lot of questions unanswered. What is unclear is how much this has been about legacy problems and personality issues … or whether there are ongoing problems for the future.”
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Source: BBC News; Guardian