Baroness dogged by claims she was too close to the Establishment
SURVIVORS of alleged sexual abuse expressed “relief” yesterday after tainted Baroness Butler-Sloss resigned as chairwoman of the probe into claims of an Establishment paedophilia cover-up.
The former judge quit just six days after being appointed by Home Secretary Theresa May amid concerns about how she could impartially consider her brother Michael Havers’s alleged hushing-up of abuse claims.
Mr Havers is reported to have told fellow Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens not to carry out his threat to expose a senior diplomat as one of eight paedophiles in top public roles in the 1980s.
Prime Minister David Cameron stood by the appointment of Ms Butler-Sloss as a “first-class” chairwoman yesterday, while Ms May said she was “deeply saddened” by the resignation she received over the weekend.
But solicitors acting on behalf of the alleged victims said their clients were “pleased and relieved” by her decision.
Leigh Day spokeswoman Alison Millar said: “This was the only sensible decision to ensure that survivors and the public could feel confident that the inquiry was not going to be jeopardised by accusations of bias.”
Ms Millar said Ms Butler-Sloss’s integrity was not in question but was clear about the conflict of interest she would have faced in investigating claims about her brother’s actions.
“This would never have been acceptable for an inquiry which requires not only to be transparent but to be seen as such by those who have in the past been so badly failed by the Establishment,” she added.
Labour MP Tom Watson, who raised the allegations of historical sexual abuse in Parliament two years ago, called her departure inevitable.
“I think she declined to chair the inquiry with dignity and the key issue now is to find an independent-minded figure who is not considered an Establishment figure,” he said.
With Ms May seeking a new chair for the investigation, Mr Watson urged her to ensure the whole enquiry team includes representatives of survivors of sexual abuse.
Ms Butler-Sloss resigned as former solicitor general and current Labour police commissioner Vera Baird labelled her appointment “an error.”