The independent inquiry into child sexual abuse in England and Wales will investigate allegations against politicians living and dead, and a variety of public institutions, in the first of 12 hearings into alleged abuse and cover-ups, the chair has said.
Judge Lowell Goddard revealed details of the first investigations to be carried out in public into child sexual abuse dating back decades. They cover institutions such as the Church of England, the Roman Catholic church, Westminster, children’s homes in Nottinghamshire and the London borough of Lambeth, child abuse on the internet, as well as grooming and sexual exploitation in Rochdale, Devon, Cornwall, Oxford and Rotherham.
The scale of the first 12 investigations to be announced – which will be followed by up to 13 more – was ambitious, Goddard admitted.
“To run 12 investigations in parallel represents an organisational challenge that is unprecedented in a public inquiry in the United Kingdom,” she said.
“We are determined to succeed and expect full co-operation of all institutions and individuals who can assist us in our work.”
While some of the investigations may take 18 months, others could last many years, but Goddard said she hoped to keep to her timetable of the inquiry lasting five years.
Goddard’s £17.9m investigation – the biggest public inquiry into institutional child abuse and accusations of establishment cover-ups ever held in England and Wales – will not be able to convict people or punish them. She has said, however, that she will not shrink from naming individuals who have abused children and the institutions which allowed it to happen.