After a faltering and embarrassing start—four chairmen in two years and the resignation of barristers assigned to it—the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, announced by the government in 2014, has heard shocking evidence about, and from, many victims.
Institutions of both state and church failed to protect them, and many suffered serious harm, documented by the Inquiry in a series of reports during the course of its work which has so far cost £137 million.
In February this year, a report was published on historical abuse in and around Westminster. Alistair Lexden raised doubts about this report, to which the government has undertaken to make a response, during an oral question asked in the Lords on 22 June about the Inquiry’s work.
He asked why the Inquiry had not interviewed Tom Watson, the former deputy leader of the Labour Party, who had caused injustice to innocent people by encouraging the police to hound them about unfounded allegations of child sex abuse. He also asked why the Inquiry had failed to make clear that allegations of a paedophile ring in Dolphin Square in the 1990s had been shown to be a pack of lies. Much the same allegations with different names attached to them were to resurface in 2014 when, astonishingly, the police described them as “credible and true”.
“How”, he asked, “can we trust fully an Inquiry which fails to show proper balance in carrying out its responsibilities?”
Another Conservative peer, Lord Cormack, returned to an issue which has been raised many times by Alistair Lexden, asking “how can we justify expenditure [on this Inquiry] while continuing to refuse to have a proper inquiry into the activities of Wiltshire Police, which maligned and traduced the reputation of a very notable former Prime Minister?” He was referring of course to Sir Edward Heath.