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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

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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.

Bodies of two men recovered from fireworks factory

The bodies of two men have been discovered at the scene of a blaze at a fireworks factory in Stafford, Staffordshire Police said.

A 53-year-old man arrested in connection with the fire at SP Fireworks on Tilcon Avenue in Stafford on Thursday has been released and is now being treated as a witness.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated. Two people were taken to hospital following the blaze. One victim is in a stable condition, but the other is more seriously hurt.

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Fiona Woolf called to face MPs again over inquiry role

Fiona Woolf has been called to appear again in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee next week to answer "further questions" about her position as the head of an inquiry into historical sex abuse in Westminster.

The committee's chairman Keith Vaz MP has written to Mrs Woolf to request she give further evidence on Tuesday after receiving her letter to the Home Secretary and the several draft versions that the department helped to guide.

Keith Vaz MP released a copy of the letter, dated today, that he sent to Fiona Woolf. Credit: Home Affairs Committee

Rantzen: Calls for Woolf to quit only slow abuse inquiry

Those calling for Fiona Woolf to quit the inquiry into historic child abuse in Westminster may "never get the answers" if they continue to query who leads the inquiry, Childline founder and TV presenter Esther Rantzen has said.

After meeting with the panel's secretariat, campaigners said the entire process would be "a dead duck in the water" if Mrs Woolf was allowed to remain in her post.

But Ms Rantzen said the inquiry was led by a "very distinguished panel" and it was vital that facts about alleged crimes against children over many decades were made public as soon as possible.

Coronation Street actress Knox to go on trial next year

Coronation Street actress Barbara Knox, who plays Rita Tanner, is to go on trial for drink-driving in February next year.

Coronation Street actress Barbara Knox. Credit: PA Wire

The 81-year-old did not attend Crewe Magistrates' Court today, where a two-day trial was set for February 9th 2015.

The actress was arrested at a Cheshire police station in March after going to collect her daughter, who had herself been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving.

Knox denies the offence.

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