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Coffee House

Will Ed Miliband attack over Lady Butler-Sloss’s appointment as head of the child abuse inquiry?

9 July 2014

11:58 AM

9 July 2014

11:58 AM

Will Ed Miliband decide to attack David Cameron on the appointment of Lady Butler-Sloss to chair the child abuse inquiry when he stands up at Prime Minister’s Questions in a few minutes?

The government has been playing a desperate game of whack-a-mole on this issue, and it looked as though Butler-Sloss was an ideal answer to conspiracy theorists. Appointing Lady Butler-Sloss, a judge, to chair the inquiry, answered complaints about this not being a judge-led inquiry. Appointing Richard Whittam QC, a senior Treasury counsel, as the independent legal adviser who will oversee the review of the review quelled mutterings about documents held by the intelligence services because Whittam already has security clearance. Butler-Sloss also brings a wealth of technical experience in the field to the inquiry: she chaired the inquiry into the Cleveland abuse scandal, and who has more recently examined allegations of abuse by two Church of England priests in the Chichester Diocese.

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But she has a link that means MPs who have been pursuing the child abuse allegations such as Simon Danczuk think she should step down from the Inquiry before it has even begun. Her brother, Sir Michael Havers, was the Attorney General at the time many of the allegations were raised.

Will Miliband criticise the government’s decision to appoint her without noticing this link? If he does, he will have to tread a fine line. He must appear statesmanlike, not an opportunist opposition leader. And this is difficult given the Prime Minister has levelled that accusation at the Labour leader a fair few times recently.

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