The Home Secretary must rue the day she ever accepted the idea of launching a public inquiry into historical sexual abuse in public life. Two formidably competent women lawyers have been hounded into resigning from chairing the Inquiry. She can appoint any number of others, there are always those around who relish such work but it will have to be someone with a low profile, probably a non-lawyer, and probably someone who will do what the victim organisations want. It will go on for years, it will not render a solution to the tragedy of the abused, nothing can now make it right and it will produce no solutions to a historical culture of ignorance and denial. Lord Macdonald of River Glaven the former Director of Public Prosecutions said succinctly on the Today programme yesterday “child abuse is very much like a cancer. We know it’s widespread, we know it has the most devastating effect on the victims. If you are going to put together an inquiry into this massive problem like a cancer then surely you would appoint a group of specialists who know something about the subject and will have the confidence of the people who are suffering.” But he then went on to suggest that conducting an inquiry when we all know the outcome, which will discover there was a lot of it about, when attitudes were different, will almost certainly be futile. We need to establish clear processes now to ensure matters are taken more seriously in the future.
The remit of the Inquiry is too broad, covers too many public services and is unlikely to produce any recommendations beyond what we could all write now. The victims’ organisations did not like being referred to as a ‘community’ but they have formed an organisation, found themselves a leader who is making the campaign a career..it’s a community alright. Public money will be poured into this McCarthy-like witch-hunt of the great and good, it will be entertaining for the public and will almost certainly do nothing but harm. We should concentrate on the here and now and protect those at risk in the future.