The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse recently published a written update about its work, its people and resources, key achievements to date, and the commitments for the future of its three core projects: the Research Project, the Truth Project and the Public Hearings Project.
It is the first written update about the Inquiry’s work since Professor Alexis Jay became the Inquiry’s fourth Chair and comes off the back of a further challenging month for the Inquiry, which has seen its senior counsel resign amid alleged concerns about his leadership, an internal review instigated by the new Chair on the scope of the Inquiry, and questions from the Select Committee about the last Chair, Dame Lowell Goddard, and her conduct. Recent reports indicate that a number of junior counsel have also resigned, following the resignation of senior counsel to the Inquiry, Ben Emmerson QC, and his deputy counsel in recent weeks.
The Inquiry’s work to date
As part of the Public Hearings Project, the first public hearing is scheduled to be held in February 2017. Over 250 formal requests for evidence from over 120 different institutions have been made by the Inquiry and around 75,000 documents have been received by the Inquiry in response. Professor Jay had already announced that changes may be made to the scope of the investigations following her internal review, and the update provides further clarification that the Inquiry will only be commissioning new investigations if doing so is considered necessary to fulfil the terms of reference.
In relation to the Truth Project, over 400 people have already been invited to take part. The Inquiry intends to complete the roll-out of private sessions throughout England and Wales by March 2017 and to continue to develop ways of making the Truth Project as accessible as possible for hard-to-reach groups, including access by victims and survivors in prisons and other establishments.
A number of Research Projects are underway assessing published evidence about specific investigations and will develop a series of research briefing notes on other topics. The Inquiry will externally commission a review of the published evidence on the behavioural and characteristic nature of both victims and perpetrators of online child sexual abuse and social and political discourses about child sexual abuse.
Two issues papers have been published seeking views on the civil justice system and criminal compensation schemes and the first in a series of seminars will be held on 29 and 30 November 2016.
The fourth Chair seems determined to press on with the Inquiry’s work, despite the recent high profile departures and press speculation as to the reasons behind them. However, the update makes clear that the Inquiry has a huge task on its hands and it remains to be seen how it will deliver on the terms of reference within the projected timelines following the departure of such key figures. Victims and survivors have been particularly disappointed by the departure of senior counsel to the Inquiry. We anticipate a further update following the completion of the Inquiry’s internal reviews.
For any questions regarding the work of the Inquiry or your organisation’s response to it, please contact our Public & Regulatory department.
Posted on 11/11/2016 in Legal UpdatesBack to Knowledge