Child sex abuse inquiry: 'New model needed', says probe's head

The government's independent inquiry into historical child sexual abuse will not be pursued as a "traditional public hearing model" as it "would fail", the probe's head has revealed.

Professor Alexis Jay said there was "no possibility" of investigating thousands of institutions in England and Wales in a way that people would associate with inquiries "of this kind".

Set up by then Home Secretary Theresa May in 2014, the inquiry was earmarked to take five years, but there have been suggestions it could run for as long as a decade at a cost of up to £100 million.

Ms Jay, who became the inquiry's fourth chairwoman in August, instead pledged "significant progress" by the end of 2020 and to ensure the investigation is "manageable and deliverable" and does not "extend into decades."

She had previously insisted that the inquiry would not be scaled back - after the former chair Dame Lowell Goddard claimed there was an "inherent problem" in its "sheer scale and size".

Although the inquiry will not be "reducing the terms of reference", Ms Jay said "different models and ways of working" would be used.

However Ms Jay refused to rule out the possibility that the investigation into some of the 13 subjects areas could be scaled back. She said there had been "no decisions yet", adding: "that will be announced in November".

  • 'Distractions'

In the latest controversy to hit the inquiry, last week it emerged that Ms Jay's predecessor Dame Lowell, a New Zealand high court judge, resigned days after the Home Office was made aware of concerns about her "professionalism and competence".

Ms Jay admitted that "there have been distractions" to the inquiry as she pleaded with abuse victims to "give us a chance to get on with our work".

She added that she understands why some people lack of confidence in the inquiry, but said: "We will do everything we can to restore the faith of victims and survivors as we go forward."