In an internal review of working practices, the IICSA has hinted that the scope of the investigation into allegations of child abuse by the late Lord Greville Janner could be scaled back.
It has been revealed that while the focus of work may be refocused, the rest of the inquiry’s scope will not be scaled back.
The review has fuelled concern amongst abuse survivors that the finding of fact in the Lord Janner case – which the inquiry committed to under a former Chairwoman – may be dropped for a less significant investigation into whether police adequately investigated allegations when they came to light in the ’90s and ’00s.
No reduction in scope
Part of the working review looked to address the question of the inquiry’s scope, as it has been claimed that the investigation’s goals are too large to deliver, an opinion that was shared by former Chair Dame Lowell Goddard after her resignation earlier this year.
The statement that published the internal review made assurances that the inquiry continues to recognise that it has two crucial tasks, understanding institutional failures that fostered abuse in the past and making recommendations to ensure that children are protected from the same failings in the future.
While there was an admission that the work of the inquiry may need to be rebalanced to focus on stopping abuse in the future, there was a clear statement that these two tasks were still the driving force behind the inquiry’s work.
It is claimed that the public hearing into the case, which has already been postponed once by the IICSA, may be delayed until 2018; furthermore, the public inquiry may focus on how the police responded to, and investigated, claims of sexual abuse by the former peer when they first arose in the ’90s (and subsequently in the ’00s).
Previously, the inquiry committed to investigating statements of fact, to try and establish whether allegations were factual. Under this scope, the investigation could have delivered a finding of fact that would have provided Lord Janner’s alleged victims with some semblance of truth and justice, which they were denied after he passed away late last year before standing trial.
Public hearings scheduled
The IICSA’s internal review also looked to build momentum going in to the New Year, with the review besieged by resignations, as well as allegations that it was not progressing through its considerable workload in a timely manner, throughout 2016.
Part of the internal review was to set up four public hearings into the 13 strands of investigation outlined as the crux of the inquiry’s work. These four public hearings will be complemented by the continuation of the Truth Project and a number of seminars that will be gathering information about historic child sexual abuse at an institutional level.
Current Chair Professor Alexis Jay will be hoping that the inquiry can begin to make real progress under her leadership, after former Chairs have resigned before hearing any evidence from abuse survivors.
Focus on survivors
With the internal review suggesting that the investigation into Lord Janner may not undertake a finding of facts, our Head of Abuse Law – Peter Garsden – explains how the focus on any change in working practices should be abuse survivors:
“After any new development or press coverage of the IICSA, I always try to remind observers that the main focus should be on delivering justice to survivors, many of whom have been ignored and passed over for decades by institutions that seemed to be set up to protect abusers.”
“With this internal review I once again would like to remind the IICSA of their duty to deliver justice to survivors, many of whom have pinned their last hopes of uncovering the truth on this inquiry that has been besieged with problems since its inception in 2014.”
“Of course, some of the details of the internal review are promising, with the scheduling of public hearings for next year and the announcement that the overall scope of investigations will not be scaled down likely to be well received by survivors.”
“Despite this, Professor Jay should consider the effect any change in course with the Janner investigation will have on survivors and if it is to go to a public consultation, I will be representing my clients in asking that the IICSA continues with its finding of facts in the Janner case.”
“One final disappointment of the internal review is its lack of announcement of a new Lead Counsel, which is a position that has remained vacant since the resignation of Ben Emmerson QC. In lacking a legal background, Professor Jay requires the assistance of a legal expert as a Lead Counsel more so than any of her predecessors.”