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Woolf abuse inquiry predecessor defends New Year honour

Criticism of the New Year honour awarded to former Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf, a few months after she was forced to resign as chair of the Government's child sexual abuse inquiry, is "very unfair", her inquiry predecessor has said.

Baroness Butler-Sloss defended the damehood awarded to Ms Woolf, saying the "very least that the honours system could do would be to honour a woman who has got such a distinguished post".

The City of London lawyer was made a Dame for services to the legal profession, diversity and the City of London in the New Year Honours. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Labour MP Simon Danczuk had earlier said the award "seems inappropriate" and "once again ... looks like the Establishment is looking after their own".

Fiona Woolf misled the Home Secretary over her links with Leon Brittan, caused unnecessary distress to victims of child abuse and caused a lengthy and avoidable delay to a very serious inquiry that urgently needs to get started.

– Simon Danczuk, MP for Rochdale

Lady Butler-Sloss, who resigned from the inquiry first over her brother's establishment role during the 1980s, blamed the Home Office for failing to perform proper checks on Dame Fiona's links to former home secretary Lord Brittan.

Network Rail bosses given MBEs in New Year Honours

Two bosses of beleaguered Network Rail have been awarded MBEs in the New Year Honours.

Over-running engineering work led to chaotic scenes last Saturday with closures at King's Cross and Paddington stations.

Over-running engineering work led to chaotic scenes last Saturday. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Network Rail's western route managing director Patrick Hallgate, whose responsibilities include routes in and out of Paddington, has been awarded an MBE for services to the economy in south west England.

The firm's south east route managing director David Ward has also been given an MBE for services to the rail industry.

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Rantzen wished husband had seen her become Dame

Esther Rantzen Credit: PA Wire

TV presenter and campaigner Esther Rantzen said that her "greatest wish" is that her husband had lived to see her become a Dame.

The 74-year-old receives the honour for services to children and older people, having established telephone helplines Childline and The Silver Line.

Her husband of 30 years, Desmond Wilcox, died in 2000.

Dame Esther said: "I am thrilled that this honour recognises the contribution made by ChildLine and The Silver Line in transforming lives, and I am delighted that the talented teams at both charities have also been recognised for their inspirational work and devotion to the most vulnerable children and older people in our society.

"I feel completely committed to the work of both charities and it is a wonderful honour to receive in my 75th year. My greatest wish is that Desmond could be here to share this news - he would have been so excited."

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James Corden receives OBE in New Year Honours list

Actor and comedian James Corden has been awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list.

James Corden played Smithy in the hit BBC series Gavin & Stacey. Credit: Dennis Van Tine/Geisler-Fotopres/DPA/Press Association Images

Corden, who played Smithy in the hit BBC series Gavin & Stacey, has established himself at the forefront of the entertainment industry.

The 36 year old earned international acclaim in 2011 for his performance in comedic play One Man, Two Guvnors, which was a success both in the West End and on Broadway.

Sheridan Smith 'overwhelmed' by OBE award

Sheridan Smith, who has been given an OBE in the New Year Honours list, said she was "overwhelmed" by the award.

Smith, who played Cilla Black in the acclaimed ITV biopic Cilla, said: "I'm sincerely thankful and humbled to be recognised with such an honour.

Sheridan Smith said she was 'sincerely thankful and humbled' by the honour. Credit: Lexie Appleby/Geisler-Fotopress/DPA/Press Association Images

"I'm overwhelmed and hope to continue doing the work that I love for many years to come."

The 33-year-old actress' portrayal of Cilla Black was so successful that it sent her version of Anyone Who Had A Heart into the Top 40.

Joan Collins 'deeply honoured' to be made a Dame

Joan Collins said she was "deeply honoured" after it was revealed she would be made a Dame in the New Year Honours list.

The 81-year-old actress, who has been recognised for her decades of charity work, said, "It is humbling to receive this level of recognition from my Queen and country, and I am thrilled and truly grateful."

Collins is best known for her role as Alexis Colby in the lavish American soap opera Dynasty.

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