Baroness Butler-Sloss has stepped down as head of the recently announced probe into child sex abuse, saying that she was “not the right person to chair the inquiry”.
The retired judge had been under pressure to resign from the inquiry by victims of abuse and MPs, concerned over her perceived impartiality due her relationship with her brother, Sir Michael Havers.
Havers was attorney general in the 1980s, a period when much of the abuse is alleged to have occurred.
Downing Street said that Butler-Sloss’ resignation was “entirely her decision”, and a new chair would be appointed in the coming days.
In a statement, Butler-Sloss said:
“I was honoured to be invited by the home secretary to chair the wide-ranging inquiry about child sexual abuse and hoped I could make a useful contribution.
“It has become become apparent over the last few days, however, that there is a widespread perception, particularly among victim and survivor groups, that I am not the right person to chair the inquiry.
“It has also become clear to me that I did not sufficiently consider whether my background and the fact my brother had been attorney general would cause difficulties.
“This is a victim-orientated inquiry and those who wish to be heard must have confidence that the members of the panel will pay proper regard to their concerns and give appropriate advice to government.
“Nor should media attention be allowed to be diverted from the extremely important issues at stake, namely whether enough has been done to protect children from sexual abuse and hold to account those who commit these appalling crimes.
“Having listened to the concerns of victim and survivor groups and the criticisms of MPs and the media, I have come to the conclusion that I should not chair this inquiry and have so informed the Home Secretary.”