Timeline of inquiry into historical child abuse

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THE Government’s inquiry into historical child abuse has been plagued with controversy since it was established last year. Here are the key events:

* July 7, 2014: Home Secretary Theresa May announces she will establish an independent inquiry to examine the handling of allegations of paedophilia by state institutions as well as bodies such as the BBC, churches and political parties.

* July 8, 2014: Baroness Butler-Sloss is named as the chairwoman. Eyebrows are immediately raised by the choice. Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz questions the choice of a member of the House of Lords, ‘’no matter how distinguished’’, to investigate the establishment - pointing out that her brother was Lord Chancellor during the era being probed.

* July 9, 2014: Calls for the appointment to be abandoned intensify over reports that Baroness Butler-Sloss’s brother, Sir Michael - later Lord - Havers, tried to prevent former West Yorkshire MP Geoffrey Dickens airing claims about a diplomat in Parliament in the 1980s.

* July 14, 2014: Downing Street announces that Baroness Butler-Sloss is stepping aside by her own choice.

* September 5, 2014: The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Fiona Woolf, a former president of the Law Society of England and Wales, is named as the new chairwoman of the inquiry. Mrs May says she is “confident” the leading tax lawyer has the right skills and experience to run the inquiry.

* September 7, 2014: Links are revealed between Mrs Woolf and Lord Brittan who was Home Secretary in 1983 when he received a dossier from Mr Dickens documenting the alleged involvement of VIP figures in a child sex ring. The former Richmond MP died last month.

* October 31, 2014: Mrs Woolf steps down as head of the inquiry, after victims’ representatives issued a unanimous call for her to be replaced.

* November 3, 2014: Mrs May apologies to survivors during a Commons statement and says she will meet survivors before appointing a new chair.

* November 11, 2014: A key review into the Home Office’s handling of historic allegations finds there is no evidence of organised attempts to conceal child abuse.

* December 4, 2014: A number of alleged victims write to Mrs May saying they will withdraw from the inquiry.

* December 21, 2014: Survivors say they welcome an indication that the inquiry will be given statutory powers, including the ability to compel witnesses to give evidence.

February 4, 2015: Mrs May announces that New Zealand High Court judge Lowell Goddard has been named as chairwoman of the inquiry. She said Justice Goddard had been selected after a search that involved more than 150 candidates. The inquiry’s terms of reference are also being revisited, meaning that investigations could go back beyond 1970.