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Miliband: Theresa May is guilty of 'total carelessness'

Labour leader Ed Miliband has accused Home Secretary Theresa May of "total carelessness" after Fiona Woolf became the second person to resign as chair of the Westminster child sexual abuse inquiry.

Theresa May has some explaining to do. To lose one chair is a misfortune but to lose two is total carelessness on her part.

It's not like this could not have been expected. If you had asked some basic questions and done some basic background checks, I think anybody really understanding the victims in this would have said 'Well, hang on a minute, isn't this going to be problematic?

– Ed Miliband, speaking to the BBC
Ed Miliband said Fiona Woolf had 'done the right thing' as she no longer commanded the confidence of victims. Credit: Tim Goode/EMPICS Entertainment

Mr Miliband called on the Home Office and Home Secretary to do the "proper consultation with the victims" before appointing a third head of the inquiry to ensure their support.

Charity: Hunt for Woolf successor must not halt inquiry

Children's charity The Children's Society has called on the inquiry into Westminster child sexual abuse to get underway while Fiona Woolf's successor as chair is found.

This critical inquiry has already been delayed twice. Now, it is vital that, as steps are taken to find a new chair, its work continues. The victims and survivors of child sexual abuse have already waited too long to get the justice they deserve.

– Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society

Home Secretary Theresa May has said she will meet survivors' groups and consult with relevant MPs before appointing Mrs Woolf's successor.


Woolf quitting 'vindicates' Mail on Sunday's reporting

The Mail on Sunday has said Fiona Woolf's decision to quit as head of the Westminster child sexual abuse inquiry "vindicates" the newspaper's pursuit of details about her links with Lord Brittan.

Two months ago, shortly after Mrs Woolf's appointment by Theresa May, we were first to produce evidence of Mrs Woolf's close ties to Leon Brittan. Over subsequent weeks, we established a pattern of connections between them.

Throughout this period, the Home Office refused to acknowledge these concerns or explain why it had failed to carry out due diligence.

At no stage did we call into question Mrs Woolf's competence or integrity, but we believe we were right to question whether she would command the trust of the victims of child abuse.

– Mail on Sunday editor Geordie Greig

Man in critical condition after fireworks factory blaze

A man remains in a critical condition in hospital following a fireworks factory blaze which claimed the lives of two men.

The man suffered serious burns in the blaze at SP Fireworks in Stafford. A second man who was taken to hospital is now recovering at home, Staffordshire Police said.

It comes as the force confirmed the bodies of two men were discovered in the wreckage of the blaze today.

Supt Ian Coxhead, from Staffordshire Police, said: “This is a tragic development in a rare and challenging incident, our sympathies go out to the families of those who have sadly lost their lives."

Officers remain at the scene of the blaze, which will remain cordoned off while work to establish the cause of the fire continues, a force spokesman said.

Abuse victims 'pleased' to see Fiona Woolf stand down

The alleged victims of historical Westminster child abuse welcome Fiona Woolf's decision to resign as head of the abuse inquiry, the head of their legal team has said.

We are pleased that Fiona Woolf has stepped down and now the work begins for a proper inquiry which listens to the survivors and supports them in giving their evidence to an experienced panel.

The terms of reference must be based on the needs of survivors and must cover the scale of abuse which is slowly coming to light across the UK.

– Alison Millar, head of the abuse team at Leigh Day solicitors which represents victims

Fiona Woolf: Sex inquiry victims lost confidence in me

Fiona Woolf has said she felt she no longer had the confidence of the victims of the Westminster sex inquiry.

Explaining her decision to resign as head of the inquiry, Ms Woolf said: "I was determined that the inquiry got to the bottom of the issues for them and if I don't command their confidence to run the panel fairly and impartially then I need to get out of the way."


Home Secretary accepts Woolf resignation 'with regret'

Home Secretary Theresa May has confirmed she has accepted Fiona Woolf's resignation from the Westminster abuse inquiry "with regret" and announced she will make a statement in the Commons on Monday.

Mrs May said she believed Mrs Woolf "would have carried out her duties with integrity, impartiality and to the highest standard" and said the inquiry panel would continue its work while a new chairman was appointed.

I decided to set up this inquiry because it's imperative that we establish the extent to which institutions in this country have taken seriously their duty of care towards children. Recent reports from Rotherham and Greater Manchester demonstrate the importance of this work.

As with Hillsborough, the best way to do this is through an independent panel inquiry. I believe we have a panel which brings a wide range of experience and expertise and one that survivors can have confidence in.

– Home Secretary Theresa May

Woolf: Victims were the last people I wanted to upset

Fiona Woolf has said she has quit her position as head of the inquiry into historical child sex abuse because she had lost too much support.

Mrs Woolf said voices against her appointment had become "sufficiently large to warrant my resignation".

Mrs Woolf told the BBC: "I did not think it was going to be possible for me to chair it without everybody's support."

Fiona Woolf said she accepted concern about her ability to lead the inquiry 'has been brewing for some time'. Credit: BBC

She accepted the emergence of draft letters to Home Secretary Theresa May that were rewritten with guidance from Mrs May's department to clarify her link to Lord Brittan had undermined her position, saying: "Yes it looks like that with the benefit of hindsight."

She said the Home Office was "only trying to be helpful".

Asked if she regretted taking on the role, she said: "I regret it for the victims. I've clearly destroyed their confidence in the inquiry with me leading it. These are the last people I would want to upset."

Fiona Woolf quits as head of Westminster sex inquiry

Fiona Woolf has resigned her position as chair of the historical Westminster child sex abuse inquiry in a letter to the Home Secretary following mounting pressure from alleged victims.

Despite support for Mrs Woolf today from the Prime Minister, campaigners said the entire process would be "a dead duck in the water" if she was allowed to remain in the role.

Concerns had been raised over the links between Mrs Woolf, a corporate lawyer and the current Lord Mayor of London, and Lord Brittan, whose decision making as the then-home secretary is expected to be examined in the inquiry into alleged abuse in the 1980s.

Fiona Woolf has become the second person to resign as head of the Westminster child sex abuse inquiry. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Archive

Documents published last night showed a letter outlining Mrs Woolf's contacts with Lord Brittan and his wife was redrafted seven times, with guidance from Home Office officials, before being sent to Home Secretary Theresa May.

It led to Mrs Woolf being called to face MPs again next week to answer further questions about her suitability to lead the inquiry before she announced she would stand down.

She becomes the second person to voluntarily quit the role following public concerns about her links to establishment figures after initial chair Baroness Butler-Sloss resigned in mid-July, a week after the Home Secretary announced the independent inquiry.

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