Analysis: An inquiry doomed to fail?

BBC News

Dominic Casciani
Home affairs correspondent

Who would be the chair of a formal inquiry?

The catastrophic double-failed launch of the historical abuse inquiry raises serious questions for the Home Secretary over how she and her officials have managed this process to date – but it also demonstrates how difficult it can be to find someone capable of doing one of the toughest jobs in public life.

Right from the get-go, an inquiry chair is under massive scrutiny. They would be naive in the extreme not to realise that they run the risk of being accused of failing to get to the bottom of things or, worse, penning an official whitewash.

And that’s why Fiona Woolf has quit: She realised that without the confidence of victims and survivors of abuse, the inquiry she had hoped to lead would not command the support of the very people she wanted to help.

There are a number of key criteria for selecting an inquiry chair. They need some serious intellectual and analytical skills because they may have to wade through thousands of pieces of evidence and hundreds of statements from witnesses.

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