THE woman leading a national inquiry into historic child abuse has resisted calls to resign after denying she is “part of the establishment.”
Fiona Woolf, the Lord Mayor of London, has come under pressure after it emerged she has had lunch five times with Lord Brittan, the former Home Secretary facing claims he overlooked abuse investigations in the 1980s.
Mrs Woold is leading the Home Office appointed panel set to look at decades of alleged child abuse by prominent public figures and politicians.
Appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee after disclosing details of her contacts with the peer and his wife, Mrs Woolf said she was not tainted by the association.
Labour MP Paul Flynn pointed out that the first choice as inquiry chair, Lady Butler-Sloss, had withdrawn due to her brother having been Attorney General during some of the period in question.
“You seem to be an establishment figure as well. Shouldn’t you resign in the interest of the report being accepted?” he added.
But Mrs Woolf said she did not regard herself as a “member of the establishment”.
In tetchy exchanges with MPs, she said: “I am not a member of the establishment. I have never been a member of any of the institutions apart from the City of London Corporation .”
Mrs Woolf said she would include in her inquiry a bid to uncover what happened to Home Office research regarding abuse in Rotherham after controversial findings were lost.
Last night Labour’s John Mann also called for Mrs Woolf to go.
The Bassetlaw MP said: “It is totally impossible for Fiona Woolf to now properly chair child abuse enquiry. Leon Brittan oversaw significant inquiries that vanished.”
In a statement to the Commons earlier, Mrs May reiterated her backing for Mrs Woolf. She said she believed the inquiry panel - which will also include Rotherham sex abuse report author Professor Alexis Jay - would “carry out their duties to the highest standards”.