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Child abuse survivors ‘back total restart’ of Westminster inquiry

Child abuse survivors would support a government decision to scrap its toothless inquiry panel into an alleged ring of Westminster paedophiles and start again, an abuse support group said yesterday.

National Association for People Abused in Childhood chief executive Peter Saunders warned yesterday that if Home Secretary Theresa May’s inquiry did not have the confidence of abuse survivors it would be “meaningless.”

Starting the process again should not be a “huge trauma,” he said.

The comments came following claims that the inquiry panel tasked with investigating the allegations might be scrapped and replaced.

“If indeed the decision has been made or is made to disband the panel as it is currently constituted, then I know that that would be supported by the vast majority of survivors or survivor organisations that we are in touch with,” said Mr Saunders.

“I have yet to encounter any survivors who have any faith in the process or in the panel as it is currently constituted.

“We need to have a transparent, open recruitment or a panel with appropriate skills and expertise, all done out in the open, nothing to do with nepotism or connections with people already in the Establishment.

“There are some very good people on that panel as it stands at the moment, but there are one or two characters who sadly have association with the past that would make them inappropriate.”

Labour MP Simon Danczuk said the situation was a “mess” and warned that the government risked appearing as if it did not “want to get to the truth” over historic child abuse.

He said victims would be dismayed at the lack of progress in the probe, which has already seen two chairs stand down over potential conflicts of interest, and could not help worrying that the litany of mistakes was “deliberate.”

Fiona Woolf and Baroness Butler-Sloss resigned following claims about their perceived closeness to Establishment figures.

Last week Home Secretary Theresa May signalled a potential shift of approach when she told MPs that she wanted the inquiry to be given additional powers.

That could mean waiting for a new chairman to be appointed or the establishment of an entirely new inquiry panel under statutory terms.

A third option, that of a Royal Commission, would not have the powers of a statutory inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act.

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