Coffee House

Lady Butler-Sloss steps down from child abuse enquiry

14 July 2014

1:15 PM

14 July 2014

1:15 PM

It is not a surprise that Lady Butler-Sloss has stepped down as chair of the independent inquiry panel into child abuse: a critical mass of stories had built up against her which meant it was impossible for her to continue leading an inquiry that is partly about conspiracy theories without herself becoming the target of conspiracy theories which would eventually weaken her findings.

A resignation before the inquiry has even kicked off is a serious blow to the government, which had been trying so hard to play conspiracy whack-a-mole, to stay ahead of the critics by acting fast and appointing big names to lead big investigations into historic allegations. But it is not quite right to say that this is a blow to David Cameron’s authority. Of course by extension everything that the government gets wrong is a blow to the Prime Minister. But more specifically this is a blow to the Home Office, who appointed Butler-Sloss in a hurry. They would have announced her appointment to the panel even quicker than they did if she’d responded by the time Theresa May stood up in the Commons to give her statement on the matter on Monday afternoon. There seems to have been a rush to make the appointment – perhaps a naivety, even – that meant the links journalists were able to dig up very quickly indeed were missed.

The next appointee is not expected to be announced today. It would be wise for the Home Office and Number 10 to take a little longer to consider whether someone who seems very impressive on the surface is going to stand up to the full scrutiny of the press and conspiracy theorists who are convinced that an inquiry about the Establishment has already fallen prey to an establishment stitch-up.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Earthenware

    “…investigations into historic allegations”

    As far as I’m aware, the scope of the inquiry has not yet been defined so how do you know that it will only investigate “historic” allegations.

    The continual attempt to play this scandal down (with liberal use of the term “conspiracy theory”) is beginning to make me wonder if the press has as much to hide as politicians.

  • Jonathan Burns

    May another token woman promoted above her abilities.

  • allymax bruce

    ‘A resignation before the inquiry has even kicked off is a serious blow to the government,!
    No, Isabel, Lady Butler Sloss was the right person to take this Enquiry; we must ask ourselves why are the ‘hardened’ Press out-to-oust-her?
    Can it be something to do with the fact all the Press barons have secrets to hide !!!

    Hmmmmm !

  • David Booth.

    If criminal activity has taken place then the police should be investigating it not some superannuated judicial dogsbody.
    It’s what we pay them for.

    • amicus

      Hardly a “dogsbody”. She was one of our most senior judges.

      • David Booth.

        A dogs-body is someone who is expected to undertake work that others others won’t touch. The fact that this judge didn’t see any problem in investigating the decisions of her own brother beggars belief.

  • davidhill

    Chosen specifically by the Home Office, the most corrupt tax-paid-for Whitehall department in British government. Therefore don’t hold you breath for the next suspect ‘independent’ inquiry chair, as he or she is bound to be another ‘establishment’ figure who will no doubt operate independently behind closed doors as usual.

    ‘The ‘Establishment’ Makes Amends but where the ‘Establishment’ does not change its spots when it comes to its own’ –

    ‘What ‘Successive’ Governments and Whitehall have covered-up and ‘Not’ told the British People about Hard Drug Addiction Treatments that simply will never work’ –

    ‘The EU-USA Trade Agreement if our politicians vote it through will be a Disaster for the People of Europe & the People of the USA’ –

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    I still would rather know what is going on today. Oh, yes, I want past events to be looked at, but there is no indication that the tendency to cover up has gone away. What’s going on now. What complainants are being hushed up, what whistle-blowers ignored?

  • RavenRandom

    Act in haste repent at leisure.

  • Nexus01

    And Ms. May, your resignation will be happily accepted by the people, for making such a poor choice to head such a review.

    • Stephen Green

      Vote for Vaz – Cleaned up with Daz.
      But the muck raking still shows through.

    • amicus

      Mrs May.

  • alabenn

    Does it matter who leads an inquiry that is designed to lead nowhere, nothing will come of it before the election as Labour are trying to make it political, that will be to cover their previous form on this, none of the parties want a result, as all are tainted
    This is what I wrote 4 days ago on here, it still stands except that, Labour trying, should now read, Labour has made it political.
    It will not go anywhere now, as the next candidate will be tainted as a second choice in this poisoned chalice of an inquiry, job done for Labour, as most of the homes where children were and are still farmed out are under the control of Labour councils and their socialist appointees.

    • red2black

      I worked for a Labour Council. Most of the people who worked there didn’t give a monkey’s about party politics or politicians. If you know of instances where children are being ‘farmed out’, it’s your duty to report them to the police.

      • alabenn

        So the social workers never allowed the young girls to consort with Muslim paedo gangs because they thought they were making a lifestyle choice, was there not some little contretemps in Rotherham, Doncaster, Bradford, Rochdale and every other place with large ethnic populations, they even picked them up in taxis from the homes, deliberate or indifference, their job was to protect, not doing their job is collusion especially in this context, would you not think.

        • red2black

          I don’t know what the social workers, taxi drivers, police, members of the public, children in care, local politicians of all stripes, or anyone else for that matter, did or didn’t do. As for being recruited by a grooming gang being regarded by anyone as ‘a lifestyle choice’ beggars belief. Again, if you suspect collusion between social workers and grooming gangs, you must report it to the police.

  • Frank

    Just hand the whole caboodle to the police and let them prosecute. The enquiry route was just a delaying tactic, probably put forward by Lynton Crosby. Daft.

  • Blindsideflanker

    I am sorry she has done this, it plays to the dirty insinuations levelled at her by a Labour MP.

    Instead of looking to tick superficial boxes requiring people to be this that or the other tribe, ethnicity, gender, or not of a particular section of society, people should be Judged on their characters.

    • Stephen Green

      What else do you think Labor MPs are for?

  • 1498

    I am beginning to doubt if the true facts of this case will ever be uncovered. There are too many powerful people involved, with too much to loose.
    The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

  • dado_trunking

    We cannot trust anyone anymore.
    We cannot trust our politicians, our judiciary, our executive.
    It is high time we handed the Commonwealth batton to Brussels – only the apologists of our underperforming Magna Carta second row will oppose it.

    • Stephen Green

      Bring back King Alfred. At least he could go in for some fatuous Beeb time waster – ” Cook the Books”. The producer could be Keith Vaz.

  • davebush999

    Gives a bit more time to hide the evidence.

  • Mynydd

    Yet another appointment failure by Mr Cameron. When will the man learn, one would have thought after Coulson it would have doubled checked everything. To make matters worse Mr Cameron still maintains Lady Butler-Sloss is the right person for the job, even when she has said she is not. The man cannot be serious.

  • Glyphkeeper

    They should appoint Norman Baker – surely conspiracy nuts are more likely to trust the conclusions of one of their own?

  • Winston Burchill

    Everything in this country is shambolic these days.

  • telemachus

    Does this confirm a cover up

    • Ordinaryman

      It confirms nothing other than, perhaps, the the advice given to government could have been better. Of course, some people will always see ‘bogeymen’ in very corner regardless of reality.

      • red2black

        It does seem that every attempt to investigate this issue has been obstructed over many decades.

  • john

    This is a disgraceful calumny on a fully paid up member of the Establishment. How can Britain prosper if the views of the 63 million rank and file start being taken into account? Before long the grubby sans culottes will be demanding a say in how the country is run.

    • allymax bruce

      The ‘calumny’ you cite is all to do with this very ‘British’ Establishment; and I’m not talking about the Marxist drones we have as Politicians. I’m talking about the Zionist ‘untouchables’ who are the Friends of Israel. The Fabian Society. The BBC. The Fifth Column Press-scum. It’s time we got rid of the blackmail coatrail.
      Since the 1760’s, ‘Britain’ has been used, abused, and misused; all for the ‘benefit’ of these Untouchables; but it’s not out of their bounds for them to ‘touch’ others!
      No more; time for an English Parliament; it’s the only way to shine a light on these cockroaches!

  • southerner


  • Colin56

    Thanks heavens that Lady Butler-Sloss has realised, albeit a little late in the day, that she, her family, connections and past record, rather than the outcomes of her inquiry, would have been the story, and has bowed to the inevitable. It’s a corollary of being in public life that perception is everything, and the outcome is harsh, but necessary if the inquiry is to have any credibility.

    It is hard to imagine who could be appointed who is not, nor has ever been, a part of the ‘establishment’ into which the inquiry will need to inquire. Perhaps this is a conundrum that gives Sir Humphrey the last laugh – an inquiry with a remit that makes the appointment of an acceptable chair an impossibility?

    • MirthaTidville

      Shambolic indeed..Typical though of May, and there are those who want her to follow Dave…amazing

    • ButcombeMan

      Theresa May has been dreadfully let down by Home Office Officials and ultimately the Permanent Secretary.

      This was absolutely on the cards from the beginning. Shambolic. Pathetic.

      • Mynydd

        Of course every one is to blame other than Mr Cameron and Mrs May. The old say was, that is before this government, Civil Servants advise, ministers decide. In this case Mr Cameron/May decided on Lady Butler-Sloss, no one else, it’s down to them, and them alone.

        • Inverted Meniscus

          Labour Troll. Please ignore.

          • Stephen Green

            I assume that you are referring to Keith Vaz. Perhaps he should be nominated for the job. Surely he is above reproach. But then there was that time that he………(New readers begin here).

    • Earthenware

      Bring in a senior lawyer from Australia or New Zealand – someone with sufficient gravitas, but without the UK establishment baggage.

  • Roger Hudson

    How the government can appoint someone who is/was not in the establishment is a difficult question to answer.
    I would chose Lord Jonathan Sacks, ok, he went to Oxford and Cambridge and is a Lord but he seems less tainted by association with sleaze than most people.

    • Colin56

      Anyone with the title ‘Lord’ must, by definition, be regarded as part of the ‘establishment’ and therefore will be seen as being ineligible. It will have to someone from outside and no record of being connected to the Westminster bubble, the church, teaching, civil service, the law, show business, the NHS, BBC, children’s homes, social services and the rest. Where do you find such an outsider?

      • Roger Hudson

        Isn’t Michelle Obama a lawyer?

        • Colin56

          Yes – but what’s that got to do with anything??

        • allymax bruce

          Excellent idea; First Lady Michelle Obama would do an excellent job. Has no ties to Westmonster. Is not ‘entrusted’ to the ‘British’ Establishment. And would slap-down little jumped-up Labour Party ‘favour’ Pee-ers like Vaz!
          Can’t stand Vaz; he’s Labour; he has no integrity, but thinks he can ‘question’ those who do.

    • monty61

      A near-foreigner should do the job. Send for an Aussie or a Canadian. Or a Scot?

      • Roger Hudson

        Two countries that received children’s home victims, i don’t think so.

      • itdoesntaddup


        • Wessex Man

          sad, so sad and childish.

      • Wessex Man

        Well going by what I read about Tory Scots today, I think not.

        • Jambo25

          1particular Tory Scot and most of us pretty much suspected that anyway. I met the gent in question, on several occasions, when I was a teenager or slightly later, through his connection to the Traverse Theatre. There were stories about him swirling round but neither I nor friends ever came across anything particularly convincing. Definitely Not Proven as yet.

    • MirthaTidville

      Lord Sacks has always displayed an inordinate amount of common sense and understanding, so that might rule him out sadly..

    • Lady Magdalene

      No-one from either House of Parliament or Whitehall should be considered.

      The abuses are alleged to have been perpetrated by members of the House and Whitehall and the cover-up (if there was one) was also carried out by these two branches of The Establishment.

      Ergo the Head of the enquiry should not come from either of these places.

      Perhaps one of these:

    • Wessex Man

      I would pick my Parish Council Chairman, steely eyed made Tory Leader of Council cry, stares at people until he is satisfied that they have provided a truthful answer, despises the Political Classes from Whitehall to County, a perfect appointment but it won’t happen, it will be a slightly less well connected Lord, Lady or Dame slid into place by Call me Dave hoping the great unwashed don’t notice.

      • David Booth.

        An excellent choice, he gets my nomination as well.