Let child abuse inquiry do its work, says victim

A member of the victims’ panel on the national child abuse inquiry is calling for critics to let the investigation do its work for the majority of survivors in England and Wales.

Chris Tuck, writing in the Guardian, revealed she has suffered vicious trolling on social media amid continued criticism of the management and working of the inquiry. It was, she said, “cruel and cowardly” and was hard not to take personally.

Tuck is a member of the victims’ and survivors’ panel on the child abuse inquiry, which was set up to provide victims with a voice in the process.

But she said she was speaking personally as a survivor of all forms of childhood abuse, including neglect and sexual abuse.

She indicated there was a silent majority of victims who were supporting the inquiry, and the outspoken critics were putting the process at risk.

“The few people who want this inquiry disbanded are robbing the victims and survivors in England and Wales of the opportunity finally to have their voices heard,” she wrote.

One of the largest victims’ groups, the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association, made up of people who were abused in Lambeth children’s homes, has withdrawn from the inquiry. Tuck said victims who did not want to engage with the inquiry had made a personal choice.

“I respect that, but please let the inquiry get on with the job in hand. Damaging the inquiry damages all of us – and we have been damaged enough,” she wrote.

The home affairs select committee is publishing a report on Thursday on the independent inquiry, which has been knocked by setback after setback over the last six months. About seven lawyers have left the inquiry including the lead counsel Ben Emmerson QC, his deputy and the lead barrister for the investigation into the Roman Catholic church.

Prof Alexis Jay, the fourth chair of the inquiry, has yet to publish details of her review into how the investigation should operate in future. She has said it is unrealistic to hold a public inquiry into every one of the thousands of institutions where abuse is said to have occurred.

The inquiry has set up 13 investigations intended to lead to public hearings with witnesses giving evidence on oath. These include investigations into the Catholic church and Church of England, Lambeth council, Medomsley detention centre, Nottinghamshire council, Westminster and the late Lord Janner.

The New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard, who quit as inquiry chair in August, promised that up to 25 public hearings would take place, but Jay said the inquiry would commission new investigations “only if we consider they are necessary to fulfil our terms of reference”.

Yvette Cooper, the chair of the home affairs committee, is to publish letters from the lawyers who have quit the inquiry, including Hugh Davies QC, its former deputy lead counsel, on Thursday.

Lisa Nandy, a Labour MP, used parliamentary privilege to name Emmerson as the person accused of an alleged sexual assault at the inquiry’s London headquarters.