Labour’s nominees for inquiry chair, and a left ‘establishment’

I have been informed through a reliable source (not an MP or anyone working for one) that the Labour Party, upon consultation through the Home Office, who are desperate to avoid a third unsuitable chair for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, have nominated three possible candidates. These are:

Shami Chakrabarti, barrister and Director of Liberty (formerly the National Council for Civil Liberties) since 2003.

Baroness (Helena) Kennedy QC, barrister specialising in human rights and civil liberties and Labour peer.

Michael Mansfield QC, well-known radical barrister, whose candidacy would certainly be supported by some survivors and their representatives.

These candidates, none of who appear suitable, do however demonstrate the problems with figures close to the Labour Party and associated left wing’s own ‘establishment’, and especially the field of civil liberties and NCCL, about whom there is considerable evidence of strong links to the Paedophile Information Exchange, who they arguably helped to legitimise. I have no doubt that Chakrabarti would do the job extremely well, but because of her position, it would be impossible to guarantee confidence that her work on NCCL would be seen to be fair and objective. I have yet to research properly the extent of Kennedy’s NCCL connections, but certainly there is every likelihood that she is close to many of the individuals who will come under scrutiny, such as Patricia Hewitt and Harriet Harman. Kennedy also chaired an episode of the late night discussion programme After Dark in 2003 in which former PIE chair Tom O’Carroll appeared. It was also recently reported in the Sunday Times that Kennedy had been offered the chair, but had turned it down. Mansfield was very close to NCCL and Harman, working together with her during the key period when the civil liberties organisation was connected to PIE.

All the political parties need to look for candidates for chair not in order to protect their own interests, seen thus as a ‘safe pair of hands’, but who has the requisite degree of independence to consider the major allegations of child abuse occurring at the hands of senior figures in each party, possibly protected by those parties. A political damage limitation exercise on the part of any party would make a mockery of the inquiry.

For my part, I would suggest consideration of lawyer Clive Stafford-Smith, who has done much work defending those on Death Row in the US, and inmates at Guantanamo Bay. Though his specialist area is not child sexual exploitation, Stafford-Smith is a principled individual whose work is mostly abroad, and so would seem to have had less regular contact with the multiple British establishments whose own sorry involvement needs proper scrutiny.

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10 Comments on “Labour’s nominees for inquiry chair, and a left ‘establishment’”

  1. Ian, thank you very much once again for keeping us all regularly posted on the various discoveries and developments and for all the time and enrgy tht you continue to devote to this grave matter.

    I am sure that I am far from alone in my concern that the sheer extent and widespread nature of the abuse is alone a possible obstacle to finding someone to chair the full and unfettered public inquiry that is so sorely needed; when so many people look to have been directly or indirectly involved in its perpetration and concealment over so very many years in so many parts of the country, the possibility of selecting anyone who has absolutely no “form” and can be seen or thought not to do so will risk appearing proportionately small; it’s almost like an analogy, in a crudely “Catch 22” like sense, to the “too big to fail” problem that arose as one of the pieces of fallout of the financial crisis.

    However, find someone we must and that needs, I think, to be done with universal acceptance and agreement well before the next UK General Election.

    I cannot comment with any authority on the credentials of Clive Stafford-Smith, but it’s an interesting possibility nonetheless; the fact that much of his work appears to have been carried out at a respectable distance from the UK institutions and personages whose actions would be subject to due scrutiny as part of such an inquiry certainly seems like something of a point in his favour but, on the other hand, his expertise is not, as you say, in the field of child exploitation, which may not of itself necessarily rule him out of the running but might raise questions as to whether he could be considered to be the best possible candidate.

    Were anyone to put a gun to my head and ask that I name one person whom I think would be especially well suited, it would be the first of the three whom you name above – Shami Chakrabarti; my principal concern about such an appointment would be her preparedness or otherwise to assume so massive a rôle, given that, whilst it will inevitably be a very hig profile one, it might also risk diverting some of her attention away from her other human rights concerns and projects, not least because she (or whoever agrees to take on this position) will be in for the very long run indeed – I suspect that, once it gets going, provided that its remit and terms of reference are as comprehensive and all-embracing as they need to be, the sheer scale of Leveson will soon come to be regarded as vanishingly small by comparison!

  2. Brian Douieb says:

    Quite frankly I am somewhat confused, Ian, about this apparent revelation. I think your blog is irresponsible and questionable in inferring a link between the named candidates for the Inquiry Chair with PIE, based on their known or possible association with NCCL. In my view this is deeply flawed and seriously mistaken. Many of us who were involved in 70/80s politics worked with NCCL on a wide range of human rights campaigns and never supported PIE or its vile ideology.
    Also, it not ‘some’ survivors who ‘would’ support Mansfield for chair but very many (including myself) who have signed a petition and expressed our clear choice publically. Why are you choosing to understate this?

    • Ian Pace says:

      I wouldn’t infer any necessary PIE sympathies from people having worked with NCCL, but would ask if they are necessarily the best people to be investigating the link. Just as with earlier chairs and their conflicts of interests.

    • Ian Pace says:

      Otherise, I am aware of some signatories (any such thing will be ‘some’ – no-one is in contact with the totality of survivors in the country) but believe that type of appointment needs checking out as well.

      It is disappointing that many who were furious when other candidates were announced without proper vetting now want their own preferred candidate catapulted in without similar checks.

  3. Luke says:

    Why not appoint a professor of law who is an expert in the relevant field? This would be someone with the requisite expertise and someone seen to be outside the Westminster and establishment bubble. In many countries professors are appointed to do just such a job. Why hasn’t the suggestion even been floated in this country?

  4. Cj aka Elderofzyklons Blog says:

    Reblogged this on ElderofZyklon's Blog!.

  5. […] Labour’s nominees for inquiry chair, and a left ‘establishment’ (6/11/14) […]

  6. […] 6th Labour apparently released its nominees for the chair says Ian Pace [75] , Channel 4 News [105] ran a piece with Ian Mcfadyen and Andi Lavery after their private meeting […]


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