James Lyons — The Mirror Oct 21, 2014
The new head of the national child sex abuse inquiry is facing calls to quit before she starts – as the full extent of her links to Leon Brittan were revealed today.
Three Labour MPs warned that Fiona Woolf’s ties to the Tory grandee meant she should not carry out the probe into how historic abuse allegations were handled.
Ms Woolf said that she has enjoyed five dinner parties with Mr Brittan and his wife – prompting Labour MP Simon Danczuk to comment: “In the world where I come from if you have people round for dinner regularly, you would consider yourselves friends.”
Mr Danczuk, who exposed Cyril Smith as a paedophile, added: “The public will suspect the government is trying to protect Leon Brittan.”
In a letter to Home Secretary Theresa May, ahead of a grilling by a House of Commons committee, Ms Woolf also said she met the peer’s wife for coffee, sat on a prizegiving panel with her in July and sponsored her £50 for a fun run.
The lawyer insisted that she was not close to the Brittans – but could not say if they were on her Christmas card list.
And it emerged that she only met the Home Secretary to discuss the job in person for the first time this morning.
Ms Woolf provoked disbelief from MPs as she repeatedly denied being a member of “the establishment”.
Labour’s Ian Austin said she had met the peer “more frequently than I have seen some members of my family”.
He went on: “Do you think the public’s confidence in your ability to examine what was happening when Lord Brittan was Home Secretary won’t be affected by what clearly, I would think and most people would think, is a close personal contact?”