Child abuse inquiry to issue progress reports

Rochdale Labour MP Simon Danczuk said he was 'very concerned' that the inquiry might continue until 2023. Picture: PA
Rochdale Labour MP Simon Danczuk said he was 'very concerned' that the inquiry might continue until 2023. Picture: PA
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Officials yesterday insisted that updates on the progress of the historical child sex abuse inquiry will be published as the case progresses.

They were reacting to claims that the investigation could last up to eight years.

This cannot be allowed to take another eight years

Andi Lavery

New Zealand judge Dame Lowell Goddard is leading the probe into historical abuse.

The inquiry got under way three weeks ago with the decision to investigate allegations of sexual abuse against Labour peer Lord Grenville Janner.

Claims against other politicians, including the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith, will also be ­investigated.

The inquiry covers England and Wales, with a separate Scottish version being set up.

A spokesman for the inquiry said yesterday that the updates could include calls for action.

He said: “Interim reports will be published as the inquiry progresses and, where possible, these will include recommendations.”

In a leaked report, a Home Office official was reported as saying the inquiry could “go on for eight years”.

However, yesterday an inquiry spokesman insisted this was an estimate, adding that the duration would depend on how many people wanted to give evidence.

He said: “The scope of the inquiry is huge, covering many public and private institutions.

“Given that we do not know how many people will wish to engage, it is not possible to say how long the inquiry may last.”

However, he acknowledged the inquiry would deal with “a huge amount of written material, evidence from many thousands of survivors and victims of child sexual abuse and a wide variety of institutions”.

The potential length of the inquiry has alarmed Andi Lavery, a member of the White Flowers campaign group for abuse survivors.

Mr Lavery has claimed he was abused at Fort Augustus Abbey Catholic boarding school in the 1980s, which led to a police investigation.

He said: “Every six months, I hear of survivors who have taken their own lives.

“This cannot be allowed to take another eight years. Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Rochdale Labour MP Simon Danczuk, a long-standing campaigner on the issue, said he was “very concerned” that the inquiry might continue until 2023.

He said: “My conversations with the Home Secretary led me to believe it would last at most two to three years. This feels like a deliberate delay.”

He said civil servants could be being “overly cautious”, but the inquiry had to be “more efficient”.

Mr Danczuk said: “Many of the survivors of child sexual abuse have already had to wait a long time since many of these crimes were committed.

“And I’d be concerned if the civil servants who are involved in organising and running the inquiry are predicting such a lengthy inquiry.”