Questions Over Fiona Woolf's Role In Abuse Inquiry

MPs Have Questioned Fiona Woolf’s Relationship With Lord Brittan


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463
Questions continue to be raised about the suitability of Fiona Woolf to chair the government inquiry into sexual abuse in the UK.

The inquiry was announced in July following allegations that a dossier about alleged paedophiles at Westminster was destroyed after being handed to Leon Brittan in the 1980s. 

It was originally to be chaired by Lady Butler-Sloss, but she stepped down from her role when it was revealed that her late brother was attorney general at the time of some of the allegations. She was replaced by Fiona Woolf.

The former Law Society president’s friendship with Lord Brittan, who is accused of not doing enough to investigate claims of sexual abuse of children while in his previous role as home secretary, has been questioned by MPs.

A legal challenge in the shape of a judicial review application on behalf of an abuse victim has been launched, questioning her independence and expertise in family law. 

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has backed the appointment. He said: “I think Fiona Woolf is obviously a very credible person.

“The previous nominee decided to withdraw, the Home Office did their due diligence and they clearly don’t feel that the reasons given somehow disqualify Fiona Woolf from the job. And I haven’t heard anything yet which suggests to me that the home secretary has made the wrong decision.”

Expert Opinion
The recent details emerging about Fiona Woolf and her friendship with Lord Brittan and his wife are concerning and have led to a number of survivors of sexual abuse revealing they are no longer confident she is the right choice for the role. The terms of reference of the enquiry are also very limited and there are concerns that Fiona Woolf’s prior experience will not be adequate. Survivors of abuse have already been let down and it is important that this enquiry is transparent and credible.

“However, while Fiona Woolf will chair the inquiry, the panel consists of nine excellent people and there is a significant amount of work to be done to investigate the allegations thoroughly.

“It is crucial the survivors of sexual abuse are able to access the justice they deserve, so it is important that the inquiry gets underway as soon as possible once these issues have been dealt with. It is crucial that the Panel hears testimony from survivors about their experiences and ensures that proper support is in place for them.”
Tracey Storey, Partner