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Abuse victims call on inquiry chair Woolf to go

Abuse victims call on inquiry chair Woolf to go

Victim groups have agreed "pretty much unanimously" that Fiona Woolf should step down as head of the government inquiry into historic sexual abuse following a meeting with officials.

After talks in Westminster with inquiry representatives, Peter Saunders of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood said: "It would be a dead duck in the water as far as we’re concerned if Mrs Woolf remained."

The row over Ms Woolf's appointment has intensified after drafts of a letter detailing the extent of her links with former home secretary Lord Brittan were published.

Downing Street today stressed its support for Mrs Woolf, who replaced Elizabeth Butler-Sloss at the head of the inquiry amid concerns over her own impartiality.

“The Prime Minister is absolutely clear that she can do this job with impartiality and integrity," a spokesperson said.

But senior politicians have questioned her suitability for the role.

Former home secretary David Blunkett said there was a "very substantial cloud over whether she can now do the job" while Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Home Affairs Committee, also called on her to consider her position.

Mr Blunkett told the World at One the exchange of letters, in which Home Office officials suggested amendments, had prompted a "change of heart".

"I'm familiar with the way in which departments internally in Whitehall exchange materials before they're finally published. Letters are exchanged before Secretaries of State are asked to sign them. I used to baulk at that very strongly.

"I've never come across a situation where somebody being appointed to a critical independent panel of this sort has had their letters vetted, altered or suggestions made.

"And I'm not sure whether Fiona Woolf asked for advice and help in that draft or whether it was, if you like, offered to her. But either way, I think it has put a very different complexion on the situation and a very substantial cloud over whether she can now do the job."

Mr Vaz this morning said Ms Woolf needed to "look at the history of this and decide whether she has the time and the space, the knowledge and the desire to do this work".

But he stopped short of calling for her resignation, telling the Today programme it was "not for the Home Affairs Select Committee to decide",

 

Green Box: Abuse victims call on inquiry chair Woolf to goClick to open

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