Inquiry judge will hear 30,000 VICTIMS of predators ...

By David Rose
Daily Mail
July 18, 2015

In charge: New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard

[with video]

Inquiry judge will hear 30,000 VICTIMS of predators – but Goddard probe says that’s less than 1% of adults who were abused as children

The landmark inquiry into historic child sexual abuse is braced to hear testimony from at least 30,000 victims, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

But that extraordinary number represents less than one per cent of the more than three million adults in Britain who were abused as children, according to the Goddard Inquiry.

The figures were disclosed to this newspaper by Ben Emmerson, the QC who is the chief lawyer for the vast investigation set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal and widespread allegations of abuse by politicians at Westminster.

In his first interview since he took up his post with the inquiry, Mr Emmerson has for the first time given details of the mammoth task it faces as it takes up evidence going back decades.

He admitted that the inquiry’s scope was ‘vast’, covering the handling of abuse by institutions including children’s homes, the military, youth groups, orchestras, doctors, Westminster, the police, prosecutors, internet service providers and the BBC. It has no past cut-off date.

The broad remit includes Savile’s victims and those abused as pupils at Chetham’s School of Music, whose former pupil Frances Andrade, 48, committed suicide last year after giving evidence against teachers.

But Mr Emmerson insisted the inquiry would stick to the timetable announced this month by its chairman, New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard – to issue a final report by the end of 2020.

‘The canvas is huge, but it is not unmanageable,’ Mr Emmerson said. He was determined that, unlike the 12-year Bloody Sunday inquiry and the Chilcot probe into the Iraq War – which having started in 2006 is already four years late with no publication date – ‘this issue is not going to end up being kicked into the long grass’.

The shocking figures of the scale of alleged abuse are based on research from multiple sources, Mr Emmerson said, and are ‘generally accepted by the agencies who work in this field’.

Given the current UK population, they imply that 806,000 males and 2.7 million females endured sexual abuse before the age of 18.

Mr Emmerson said the experience of similar inquiries, such as the Royal Commission now sitting in Australia, suggested one per cent of the total number of victims would come forward and ask to give evidence – about 32,000. But he promised that no victim or survivor would be denied their chance to be heard.

Special ‘truth project’ forums, to be chaired by a barrister and which will feed victim testimony to the main inquiry panel, will be operating in six or seven cities across the country early next year.

The inquiry will be divided up into more than 30 ‘modules’, each dealing with an institution, each sitting in public over one to two months, and each presided over by two of the inquiry panel’s five members. At the end of every module, there will be a ‘chapter’ report, to create a ‘dialogue with the public’. Recommendations will be made, where necessary, to ensure children are protected from future abuse.

‘Our job is not to conduct a thousand trials of individual allegations of abuse,’ Mr Emmerson said, ‘but to examine how institutions dealt with the obligation to prevent abuse, to report it, and to take appropriate action – their duty of protection.’

There would be time limits on lawyers’ speeches, and page limits for written submissions, and only evidence that needed public examination would be given orally. If individuals found themselves facing new criminal allegations, they would be given the right to instruct their own lawyers, who could cross-examine witnesses.

But however strictly the inquiry was managed, Mr Emmerson said, it was bound to be expensive: ‘It’s quite obvious you can’t run an inquiry on this scale without cost.’

Last week it emerged that Judge Goddard is to be paid £500,000 a year, while Mr Emmerson has received £177,000 in just over a year. But he said the lawyers, including himself, were being paid standard government rates, while some of the QCs who would serve individual modules would be taking large cuts to their usual income. ‘For them, this is an opportunity to give something back,’ Mr Emmerson said.

With a planned budget of about £20 million a year, the inquiry’s total cost is at present projected to reach about £120 million – but a significant overrun would bring it up close to or even beyond the record £195 million cost of the Bloody Sunday inquiry.

Mr Emmerson said he could not comment on the current allegations against former Labour MP Lord Janner, and the pending ‘trial of the facts’ to which they will be subject. ‘The focus of our inquiries into the Janner case will be the institutions,’ he said, following claims that local authorities, police and CPS failed to protect his alleged victims.

But in the wake of assertions in the Commons by Labour campaigner Simon Danczuk that Janner was ‘guilty’, he warned MPs to be careful what they said using parliamentary privilege.

‘I think MPs need to be aware there have been criminal cases that have been derailed because of things said under the cover of parliamentary privilege.’

He stressed that although allegations against high-profile people, such as Westminster politicians, had attracted much attention, they would make up only a small proportion of the inquiry’s work – which would also cover more recent concerns, such as child sexual images on the internet and ‘grooming’ cases in places including Rotherham and Oxford.

The inquiry would work closely with Operation Hydrant, the police probe co-ordinating investigations of this kind.

An NSPCC spokesman said yesterday that the inquiry’s estimates of victim numbers ‘could well be correct’.

The spokesman added: ‘A few years ago people would have dismissed the horrendous level of child abuse, but with the Savile revelations and high-profile grooming cases, it’s clear that it’s a massive problem.’



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