Another senior lawyer quits child abuse inquiry.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Abuse has been hit by the resignation of another senior lawyer. BBC Newsnight understands that Aileen McColgan has quit because of serious concerns over the inquiry’s leadership. She was the barrister leading the inquiry’s investigations into the Anglican and Catholic Churches. The inquiry said that lawyers come and go according to their professional obligations – and a spokeswoman declined to “comment on specifics”. It is understood Aileen McColgan had concerns over the competency of the inquiry’s leadership and the way it had previously responded to the resignation of lawyers instructed by it. As well as working on the inquiry, she is also a Professor of Law at King’s College London. It is understood that two other barristers have told the inquiry of their desire to leave because of similar concerns.
The inquiry has suffered a series of setbacks in recent months, including the departures of a number of senior lawyers.
There does seem to be an element of ‘cart before the horse’ here? Doubtless there is an experienced investigative team behind the scenes with clear strategic objectives. Should it not be that it is that team, independently and open-mindedly constituted, that ‘leads’ this investigation? If it truly is an ‘inquiry’ it is an investigation, the results of which feed into the legal decision making machinery – the lawyers. They (lawyers) are not the investigators but decision makers based on competent scientifically underpinned investigative outcomes. Perhaps an SIO should be ‘in the chair’, a person with unambiguous neutrality and objectivity, clarity of thought and strategy, apolitical, ethical and robust, determined to root out truth and fact? Yes, guided by lawyers who might set minimum standards, objectives, and goals, but let the investigators travel the journey unhindered. A ‘victim’ only becomes such when their testimony is ‘tested’, these people deserve the robust investigation demanded.
This inquiry will likely rely entirely on witness testimony. We (the UK) are blessed with most sophisticated methodology for securing witness testimony, we lead the world in interviewing, not perfect yet, but way ahead of all other developed nations; we have a small pool of talent with immense experience that remains untapped. Let’s use it and make a real difference for these people! Yes, context is complex but investigation is straight forward, keep it simple!