Saying she was “not the right person” for the job, Baroness Butler-Sloss has stepped down as head of the UK government’s inquiry that looks into reports of at least 20 senior figures including MPs and cabinet ministers abusing children over decades.
Butler-Sloss, 80, had been under pressure to quit by both MPs and victims due to her family links. Sir Michael Havers, who is the Baroness’ late brother, served as attorney general in the 1980’s, and is suspected of turning a blind eye to incidents of child abuse conducted by politicians during the time.
Butler-Sloss said that she was ‘honored’ to be invited to chair the inquiry but that she “did not sufficiently consider whether my background and the fact my brother had been attorney general would cause difficulties."
“This is a victim-orientated inquiry and those who wish to be heard must have confidence that the members of the panel will pay proper regard to their concerns and give appropriate advice to government” she added.
The retired judge had been appointed by Home Secretary Theresa May last week, a decision that has been called “somewhat shambolic” by a leading MP.
Speaking in front of the Home Affairs select committee today, the Home Secretary said she did not regret selecting Butler-Sloss, and that she would have done an “excellent job” as chair of the inquiry.
Asked about appointing a new chairperson, May said she hoped to name a new candidate “within a reasonable amount of time”.
Prime Minister David Cameron bowed to pressure in calling for a
public inquiry into child sex abuse last week, following
revelations that the Home Office lost a document alleging that
politicians in powerful circles were involved in pedophilia
during the 1980s.
Earlier this month, former Conservative cabinet minister Lord Tebbit told the BBC that there “may well” have been a cover up over child abuse in Westminster during the 1980’s, saying that politicians at the time felt they needed to “protect the system”.