4.50pm – It is difficult to see how Fiona Woolf can stay on as chair of the child abuse inquiry. Labour has decided to call for her resignation, with Yvette Cooper this afternoon saying:
‘Theresa May has put Fiona Woolf in an impossible position. We had hoped the Home Secretary would be able to sort this out, so that the inquiry could get going this month, but she has failed to do so. Sadly it is now impossible to see how Fiona Woolf can carry on in this position.
‘It should not be beyond the wit of the Home Secretary to establish a credible inquiry. There have been difficult and sensitive inquiries before that have required public confidence and have delivered extremely important results – from the Bishop of Liverpool’s inquiry into Hillsborough to Michael Bichard’s inquiry into the Soham murders. Theresa May needs to urgently sort this out and re-establish the inquiry on a firm footing so it can get on with its work on child protection.’
There are good questions, raised this morning by Lord Macdonald, about whether the inquiry itself is a good idea when it has such broad terms of reference, but it seems inevitable now that it won’t be chaired by Woolf. There is a rumour she will resign in the next few minutes. The question is who does have the experience but not the connections to command the support of victims and politicians?
Update, 5pm: The rumours were right: Fiona Woolf has resigned. She told John Pienaar on BBC 5Live that she had spoken to the Home Secretary this morning.
Asked who should chair the inquiry now: "it's going to be really hard to find someone with absolutely no connections. I mean, a hermit?".
— John Pienaar (@JPonpolitics) October 31, 2014