Goddard Inquiry Day 1: therapy for society and Her Majesty’s lawyers coin it in
DAY 1: The inquiry into child sex abuse is go. Lowell Goddard has opened the hearing. We’ll be keeping track of the reporting – and of the number of dead people being dug up and beaten with sticks.
Justice Lowell Goddard’s child sex abuse inquiry will name individuals and organisations it concludes were involved in abuse, and pass on allegations for police to investigate.Victims cannot choose to give evidence in the public hearings. The choice of witnesses will be made by the inquiry. No victim or survivor will be compelled to attend. Their participation will be voluntary.What if the police are one of the named organisations? What if the judiciary is one of the groups implicated? What of a right to reply for the named? What about looking at evidence before you name names in public? What about the dead?
It intends to search for patterns in the repeated failures that allowed serial offenders to exploit organisations working with children and will look at five key areas, including allegations of abuse by prominent people in public life.
And there you have it. The inquiry is a sop. It should be taglined ‘Lessons Have Been Learned’.
At the opening of the hearing on Thursday, Goddard said she would also look at:
• Faith and religious organisations.
• The criminal justice system.
• Local authorities – including children’s services and children’s homes.
• National institutions such as the NHS and Ministry of Defence, including abuse of 16- and 17-year-olds in the armed forces.
All utter balls. The system is not to blame: people are to blame. The human element is being removed from a very human crime. This is about showing the great unwashed that the organisations implicated in the depravity have faced the ugly truths, challenged the past and moved on anew. It is pomp and ceremony, offering ‘victim’s the badge of official recognition.
Speaking at the beginning of the inquiry, Goddard said: “The task ahead of us is daunting. The sexual abuse of children over successive generations has left permanent scars not only on the victims themselves but on society as a whole.”
Again, balls. Society is not scarred. Society does not need therapy. What we want is justice. We want truth. But we are getting counselling.
“This inquiry provides a unique opportunity to expose past failures of institutions to protect children, to confront those responsible, to uncover systemic failures, to provide support to victims and survivors in sharing their experiences and to make recommendations that will help prevent the sexual abuse and exploitation of children in the future.”
To prevent abuse you need do one thing: listen. But the police do not listen. They tell.
Devising a legal format that enabled all victims and survivors to voice their grievances while ensuring that targeted investigations were not swamped was the key challenge. The delays of the Bloody Sunday and Chilcot Inquiries were dire warnings of what could go wrong, she said.
Who gets to speak?
Victims cannot choose to give evidence in the public hearings. The choice of witnesses will be made by the inquiry. No victim or survivor will be compelled to attend. Their participation will be voluntary.
How old is qualifying sex abuse?
The child sex abuse (CSA) inquiry will search for patterns in the repeated failures that allowed serial offenders to exploit organisations working with children. No time limit has been set for how far back it will explore.
But how long will it go on for?
Within each of those divisions, there would be a “research project”, a “truth project” and a “public hearings project”. The aim was to finish the process by 2020; there would be annual interim reports and separate publications on each modular section.
The named should try not to die. It’s often only in death that guilt is proven beyond any doubt.
The inquiry would make findings of fact, naming individuals and organisations; allegations of sexual abuse would be passed to the police.
It has secured the protection that no one can be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act for passing on information. Investigators will have access to special ranch [sic], MI5, GCHQ and other intelligence files. There will also be legal protection for whistleblowers.
If they can find them.
But one thing is guaranteed: the justice system cashes in:
Ben Emmerson QC, counsel to the inquiry, has advertised for 10 junior barristers and 10 silks to work on the cases that evolve into the modular inquiries. Eleven appointments have been made so far; more than 550 barristers applied. Those selected will be expected to do two months’s preparation, two months in hearings on each modular case and take a further month to write up submissions.
Martin Smith, a partner with the law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse and an expert in public inquiries who worked on the Princess Diana inquest and the 7/7 London bombings, is solicitor to the inquiry. Other appointments, such as head of research, still have to be made.
The inquiory business is booming.
The CSA inquiry will be limited to England and Wales but liaise with other sex abuse investigations such as the historical institutional abuse inquiry in Northern Ireland, chaired by Sir Anthony Hart, and the independent Jersey care inquiry.
Retention notices have already been sent to 243 institutions, instructing them to hold on to all child care records. Destroying them, not handing them over to the inquiry or altering them will be a criminal offence. Even those who have not received letters will be under a statutory duty.
And this is interesting. It’s only sex Goodard is intersted in.
However, Goddard said the CSA inquiry would not look into allegations of neglect or abuse unless it is sexual abuse. Nor would it cover cases of sexual abuse that occurred inside families – unless such behaviour was reported to a teacher, policeman or some other official and they in turn failed to act in a professional manner.
Is Cyril Smith “spanking a few bottoms” sexual abuse?
Daily Telegraph: “Royal Household will fall in sights of £100m child sex abuse inquiry”
The child sex abuse inquiry is set to last five years and cost up to £100 million, it has been confirmed, as it emerged the Royal Household will not be exempt from scrutiny over paedophile allegations.
£100 million before the trials and the compensation.
A statement from the inquiry later confirmed the monarchy will be “potentially within the scope” of the hearings, following several allegations made in the last year involving the Royal Household. “There is no limit on the types of institutions that fall within the terms of reference,” a spokesman said. “The monarchy is an institution and it runs a number of institutions, all of which are potentially within the scope of the inquiry.”
Will we get to find out the secret Jimmy Savile said he knew about Princess Diana?
Evening Standard: “VIP sex abuse inquiry: Judge vows to uncover truth ‘from corridors of power to children’s homes’”
Some critics have already expressed concern about the scale of the inquiry and the cost. Justice Goddard admitted the £17.9 million bill for the inquiry’s first year was a “large sum” but insisted that its work was essential.
Might not this money be better invested in children’s homes?
She added: “Reducing the level of child sexual abuse in this country is not a choice between competing priorities, it is an imperative. Its value cannot be calculated in purely monetary terms.
“It is the inherent right of every child to experience a childhood free of sexual abuse and intimidation — to be allowed to grow up and develop without trauma. And it is the inherent right of every adult who was sexually abused as a child to hold those responsible to account, individually and collectively.”
Unless they are dead.