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Coffee House Steerpike

Shami Chakrabarti’s new support for independent inquiries

28 August 2018

7:18 PM

28 August 2018

7:18 PM

Mr Steerpike couldn’t help but do a double take this afternoon when Labour shadow attorney general Shami Chakrabarti suggested that the government should launch an independent judge-led inquiry into allegations of historical torture.

In a Labour press release, Baroness Chakrabarti of Kennington lamented the fact that the government had missed a self-imposed deadline to form an inquiry and opined:

‘After eight years and two inadequate inquiries fettered by Whitehall interference, a fully independent judge-led inquiry is the only way to bring comprehensive resolution to this scandal.’


While the formation of an inquiry might be sensible, Mr S wonders if Chakrabarti is best placed to decide what an independent investigation should look like. After all, she was the independent asked by Corbyn to lead an inquiry into Labour anti-Semitism in 2016 following incidents involving Naz Shah and ex-Mayor Ken Livingstone.

When her report was completed, it remarkably concluded that Labour was not overrun by anti-Semitism, and only had an ‘occasionally toxic atmosphere.’ Shami even managed to avoid focusing just on anti-Semitism, widening her remit to include ‘all forms of racism’ – a far more comfortable area for the Labour leadership. Unsurprisingly, the report was widely criticised as a whitewash which absolved the party and leadership from any responsibility.

After conducting an inquiry that was hugely beneficial to the people who commissioned it, you would think that Shami would make great pains to show her independence and impartiality. Or perhaps not. Less than one month later she instead accepted a peerage and joined the House of Lords after being nominated by Jeremy Corbyn.

Now, as a member of the shadow cabinet, she is keen to use her newfound status to tell other people how to conduct independent inquiries.


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