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The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and background

Published Thursday, August 11, 2016

This briefing concerns the establishment of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, a statutory Inquiry which formally opened in July 2015. This Inquiry replaced the previous, non-statutory, Inquiry set up in July 2014 which saw both of its Chairs resign; on 4 August 2016, Justice Goddard resigned as the Chair of the statutory inquiry and on 11 August it was announced that Professor Alexis Jay would be the new Chair.

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On 4 February 2015, the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced that a new, statutory, inquiry would take place into child sexual abuse. An Inquiry Panel was formed, led by the New Zealand judge, Lowell Goddard, although she subsequently resigned on 4 August 2016.  Professor Alexis Jay, a panel member of the inquiry, was announced as the new Chair on 11 August 2016.

The Inquiry Panel was formally established by Mrs May on 12 March 2015, and following preparatory work the Inquiry was formally opened by the then Chair on 9 July 2015.

Justice Goddard described the Inquiry’s task as “daunting” and hoped that the Inquiry’s work will be concluded before the end of 2020. In the mean-time, the Inquiry Panel would published annual reports from 2016 and updates on its work.

The inquiry is limited in scope to England and Wales (with some exceptions) but as a statutory inquiry has the power to compel people to give evidence. Exemptions from the Official Secrets Act 1989 for whistleblowers has been granted by the Solicitor General. 

The Inquiry Panel wishes to hear from survivors of child sexual abuse:

The current Inquiry replaced the previous, non-statutory, Inquiry established in July 2014. As well as having less powers than the current Inquiry, its terms of reference limited it to matters dating from 1970; there is no cut-off date for the current Inquiry.

In addition, the previous Inquiry lacked a Chair for most of its existence: the two Chairs of the Panel who were appointed both resigned over concerns from victims and survivors of alleged links they had with individuals under the remit of the investigation.

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