On Wednesday, I was present at the Houses of Parliament to witness over 300 survivors of child sexual abuse gather at a public meeting organised by John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, and the WhiteFlowers Campaign Group.
The group came together to raise concerns about the handling of the independent inquiry announced seven months ago by Home Secretary Theresa May. Since the inquiry was announced, two chairs have been forced to resign after complaints from survivors that their connections to the establishment might prevent them from carrying out their investigations fully and fairly.
First and foremost, it was powerful to see such a passionate group of survivors and campaigners for justice coming together in a public forum. For a constituency that is so often denied a voice by shame and stigma, gatherings like this are a crucial and important step. A diverse group of campaigners and experts addressed the group, including not only survivors, but MPs like Simon Danczuk and Sarah Champion, whistleblowers like Dr Liz Davies and social services experts like Tim Hulbert. It was extremely heartening to see the thriving coalition of supporters for this cause.
However, it is also important that this group's complaints should be heeded. Given the conflicts of interest that the inquiry has faced so far, it is vital that the Home Secretary commits to a fully transparent and resourced process, including a properly empowered inquiry, an openly constituted committee, and the provision of support for survivors who give evidence. It seems that not a week passes by without news of a new public institution implicated in child abuse. The Home Secretary should act quickly to resurrect the inquiry, not only to advance the search for justice, but also to show the survivors that the establishment is worthy of their trust.