In Brief

Abuse inquiry judge accused of conflict of interest

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss's brother was attorney general at time of alleged cover-up

The retired judge appointed to head an inquiry into claims that cases of child abuse were covered up says she will not step down despite the suggestion that she is compromised by a conflict of interest.

Lady Butler-Sloss was appointed yesterday by Theresa May to examine allegations of historical child abuse. She has considerable experience on the issue and was roundly praised for her handling of the public inquiry into the 1980s Cleveland child abuse scandal, The Times reports.

However, she is facing calls to step aside because her late brother, Sir Michael Havers, was attorney general at the time of the alleged cover-up. Sir Michael sought to stop Tory MP Geoffrey Dickens from naming a top diplomat – Sir Peter Hayman – as a paedophile in the early 1980s.

Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP who has campaigned for a public inquiry into claims of abuse by powerful individuals, told BBC News that Lady Butler-Sloss is "part of the establishment" and her brother's role at the time called her appointment into question.

"I think the government should think again in terms of who they've appointed to this position," he said. Danczuk also appealed directly to Lady Butler-Sloss to "consider her position".

He added: "I find it quite surprising that neither she nor the government realised that her relationship with her brother was connected with Geoffrey Dickens and all this palaver around it."

But Lady Butler-Sloss insists she was unaware of her brother's role as attorney general during the controversy in the 1980s. "I know absolutely nothing about it," she told the BBC. "If people think I am not suitable then that's up to them."

Attempting to draw a line under the issue, she added: "I am certainly not going to be talking to the BBC or anyone else about this any further."

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