New head appointed to Bishop of Lewes inquiry

Peter Ball was jailed last year
Peter Ball was jailed last year

A new chairwoman has been appointed to an inquiry looking into sexual abuse by the former bishop of Lewes Peter Ball following a shock resignation last week

Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced yesterday (Thursday) that Professor Alexis Jay will lead the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.

A child protection expert and former social worker with over 30 years’ experience, Professor Jay led the independent inquiry into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham which found that at least 1,400 children were subjected to sexual exploitation in the town between 1997 and 2013.

Her appointment comes after the shock resignation of New Zealand judge Dame Lowell Goddard last week. Dame Lowell was the inquiry's third lead since it was established in 2014.

Following her appointment Professor Jay said: "I am committed to ensuring this inquiry does everything it has set out to do and does so with pace, with confidence and with clarity.

"Be in no doubt - the inquiry is open for business and people are busier than ever working hard to increase momentum. The panel and I are determined to make progress on all parts of the inquiry’s work, including speaking to victims and survivors.

"I am determined to overcome the challenges along the way. I will lead the largest public inquiry of its kind and together with my fellow panel members we will fearlessly examine institutional failures, past and present and make recommendations so that the children of England and Wales are better protected now and in the future."

As part of its investigation, the independent inquiry will examine safeguarding failures in the Diocese of Chichester as well as abuse by the disgraced former bishop Peter Ball.

Ball, now 84, was jailed last year for sex offences against 18 vulnerable young men between 1977 and 1992.

The inquiry is also investigating abuse at a number of other British institutions including Rotherham council.

Following the resignation, Ms Rudd said the public inquiry remains a priority for the Government and would continue ‘without delay’.

The Home Secretary said: "The independent inquiry has a vital role to play in exposing the failure of public bodies and other major organisations to prevent systematic child sexual abuse.

"I’m delighted Professor Alexis Jay has agreed to chair the inquiry. She has a strong track record in uncovering the truth and I have no doubt she will run this independent inquiry with vigour, compassion and courage.

"Let there be no doubt; our commitment to this inquiry is undiminished. We owe it to victims and survivors to confront the appalling reality of how children were let down by the very people who were charged to protect them and to learn from the mistakes of the past."

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