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Inquiry chair denies 'close' links with Brittan

Inquiry chair denies 'close' links with Brittan

The chair of the official inquiry into child sex abuse has insisted she is the right woman for the job, as she faced calls to quit over her links to Lord Brittan.

Appearing before MPs on the Home Affairs Committee, Fiona Woolf said ministers had accepted there was no "close association" between herself and the Tory peer, who was home secretary at the time a missing dossier on abuse claims was handed to ministers.

In a letter published this morning, it emerged that Ms Woolf had had a number of contacts with both Lord Brittan and his wife, including attending dinner parties with the couple and sitting alongside Lady Brittan on a competition judging panel.

“I’ve gone the extra distance to make sure that I’ve dug out every possible connection...to make sure that it absolutely settles all the concerns that may be out there,” she said.

Labour MP Simon Danczuk accused the Home Office of picking an "Establishment" chairperson, and called on Ms Woolf to stand aside.

"She shouldn't be chairing this inquiry," he told the World at One.

But Ms Woolf told MPs this afternoon the letter was an attempt to "lay to rest any fears" of a "close association" with the Tory peer.

And she said she was "determined that this inquiry is going to be the inquiry that makes the difference."

Downing Street meanwhile said David Cameron was "confident" Ms Woolf would ensure there was "no stone left unturned" as head of the inquiry.

"The Prime Minister is confident that Fiona Woolf and the panel will carry out their duties to the high standards of integrity required," a Number 10 spokesperson said.

Ms Woolf replaced Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, the Government's first choice to lead the inquiry, after questions were raised over her own potential conflicts of interest.

Meanwhile, Theresa May has unveiled the panel of experts who will oversee the inquiry, and confirmed it would "consider matters from 1970 to the present".

It will also be permitted to delve further "if evidence is provided that supports this", she added.

The Home Secretary announced that Sharon Evans, Ivor Frank, Dame Moira Gibb, Professor Jenny Pearce, Dru Sharpling, Professor Terence Stephenson, Graham Wilmer, and Barbara Hearn will sit on the inquiry's panel of experts.

Green Box: Inquiry chair denies 'close' links with BrittanClick to open

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