New Year’s Honours: row as Scots lawyer forced to quit child sex probe is made dame

The Herald — Dec 30, 2014

Fiona Woolf. Click to enlarge

Fiona Woolf. Click to enlarge

New Year’s Honours: row as Scots lawyer forced to quit child sex probe is Fiona Woolf, the then Lord Mayor of London, was the second senior legal figure to quit as chair over her links to the Westminster political establishment.

Her resignation, following just months after retired judge Lady Butler-Sloss stepped down over similar concerns, has thrown the Government’s stalled child sex abuse inquiry into crisis.

Edinburgh-born Woolf, a City of London lawyer already honoured with a CBE in 2001, was made a Dame for services to the legal profession, diversity and the City of London in the New Year Honours.

But Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale and a leading figure campaigning against child abuse cover-ups, was scathing about the honour.

He said: “Fiona Woolf misled the Home Secretary over her links with Leon Brittan, caused unnecessary distress to victims of child abuse and caused a lengthy and avoidable delay to a very serious inquiry that urgently needs to get started.

“It seems inappropriate that she’s now being invited to Buckingham Palace to pick up one of the highest honours.

“I can think of many more worthy recipients of this honour, but once again it looks like the establishment is looking after their own.”

Victims’ groups, who along with Mr Danczuk demanded Mrs Woolf step down from her role, are now also calling for a much tougher judge-led inquiry.

Mrs Woolf’s links to Lord Brittan prompted the calls for her resignation amid claims they were closer than had first been thought.

Lord Brittan is likely to be called to give evidence to the inquiry over a dossier he received from MP Geoffrey Dickens in 1983, documenting the alleged involvement of VIP figures in a child sex ring.

Within days of Mrs Woolf’s appointment, questions were asked about the new chair’s position after it emerged she is a neighbour of Lord Brittan, they enjoyed dinner parties together and both sit on the board of a City of London conference.

The Mail on Sunday also reported that Mrs Woolf sat on a prize-giving panel with Lord Brittan’s wife and sponsored her in a fun run.

Baroness Butler-Sloss quit six days after her appointment as chair because her late brother, Sir Michael Havers, was attorney general in the 1980s.

Mrs Woolf was named as replacement on September 5 and both Home Secretary Theresa May and Prime Minister David Cameron continued to support her appointment until she was forced to step aside in October.

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