fter years of horrifying revelations about sexual abuse of children by people of power and influence, Britain called in a judge from New Zealand in a bid to guarantee the independence of a new inquiry into what appears to have been a massive institutional cover-up for decades.
In an opening statement July 9, Judge Lowell Goddard said she will lead a team that will investigate thousands of allegations of abuse perpetrated by “people of prominence in public life.” Cases involve both present and former high-ranking officials in central government, MI5 intelligence and security services, the Metropolitan Police Service’s Special Branch and the state-owned BBC.
The department that oversees many of those authorities is the Home Office, a catchall ministry that is one of Britain’s most potent institutions, in charge of immigration, police, domestic security and MI5. So when survivors like Andrew Lavery, who was abused in his early teens at the hands of Benedictine monks, learned that dozens of Home Office staff were being seconded for the inquiry, he was stunned. “How can the Home Office investigate themselves?” he asks. “It’s toxic.”