Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fiona Woolf will resign, but I'm more worried about the Home Office

As the Daily Telegraph reports this evening, Fiona Woolf, the head of the government’s child sex abuse inquiry, is facing renewed calls for her resignation. This is after it emerged that the Home Office played a key role in r-writing a personal letter setting out her suitability for the job.

As the Telegraph says:
The final version of Mrs Woolf’s letter was finally sent to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, on October 11, in which Mrs Woolf stated her personal contact with Lord Brittan would not affect her “independence and impartiality”. 
But earlier drafts of her letter – seven in all – were ping-ponged between Mrs Woolf’s private office, the Home Office, lawyers to the sex abuse inquiry and counsel representing the Home Secretary. 
Although the letter gave the impression of being a personal statement of impartiality by Mrs Woolf, the truth was very different. 
The final draft had been altered beyond recognition when compared with the original version. 
Furthermore, an unknown number of lawyers and civil servants had been allowed to have input into Mrs Woolf’s letter. 
As pointed out by the chairman of the home affairs select committee, Keith Vaz MP, even the facts appeared to have been manipulated to place greater distance between Mrs Woolf and Lord Brittan.
I can't see Fiona Woolf choosing to stay in this role, but I am more concerned about the behaviour of the Home Office.

Because so many people are hoping for different things from this inquiry, it was always likely to prove a disappointment. But we should at least be able to expect it to be independent of the Home Office - one of the bodies it should be investigating.

I would rather see Theresa May haled before the Grand Wazoo Keith Vaz and his committee than see Fiona Woolf there again. The Home Secretary has some explaining to do.

Still, you have to laugh at the suggestion of the writer of the Telegraph report, David Barrett, that it "emerged after Lady Butler-Sloss’ appointment that her late brother, Sir Michael Havers, was attorney general in the 1980s".

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