In Depth

Child sex abuse inquiry: First public hearings finally begin

Professor Alexis Jay will hear evidence on child migrants sent to Australia and abused last century

Child abuse inquiry: survivors urge Theresa May to scrap panel

22 December

A group of child abuse survivors have welcomed reports that Home Secretary Theresa May wants to replace the government's child abuse inquiry panel with a more powerful body.

More than 60 victims and representatives wrote to May calling for a new panel with the legal powers to compel witnesses to give evidence under oath.Six months after the inquiry was announced, the panel still has no chairman. May's first two choices, Fiona Woolf and Baroness Butler-Sloss, stood down because of their links to 1980s establishment figures.In their letter to May, seen by Sky News, survivors said it was "essential that those conducting the inquiry have appropriate experience, are free from strong links to prominent establishment figures or any other potential conflict of interest and have a proven track record of promoting survivors' rights".They called for a "dedicated police team to take evidence alongside the inquiry and investigate and prosecute offenders" and said they would welcome the inquiry being given "statutory powers", as well as the "replacement of the current panel".Their request comes after the Home Secretary wrote to the current panel members, warning that she was considering three options to give the inquiry more powers. Two out of three of the options required the panel to be disbanded.Labour has criticised May for her "utter failure" to get the inquiry "off the ground", says the BBC.Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph says police are investigating claims that up to five paedophile rings operated at "the heart of Westminster", each involving at least one MP.John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, has been gathering evidence from members of the public and has handed a dossier to Scotland Yard that reportedly implicates 22 politicians, including three serving MPs and three members of the House of Lords.

He also raised concerns that there are too many different police investigations into the historic abuses and called for an overarching police inquiry.

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