UK & World News
Abuse Probe Process 'Becoming Shambolic'
The Home Secretary has defended her handling of claims of historical child abuse after the inquiry process she launched was labelled "shambolic".
Theresa May told the Home Affairs select committee she stood by her decision to appoint retired judge Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, who had earlier announced she was standing down before she had even started to spearhead one of two key inquiries.
She was picked to examine whether alleged abuse by politicians and other powerful figures between the 1970s and 1990s was swept under the carpet.
But her appointment was engulfed in controversy because, as an establishment figure herself, victim groups and child protection campaigners said she was the wrong person to head the Government's investigation.
In addition, her late brother, Tory MP Sir Michael Havers, was the Attorney General and Lord Chancellor during the 1980s.
He is alleged to have had a row with former Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens in the 1980s in an attempt to stop him using parliamentary privilege to make allegations about paedophilia.
Under fierce questioning by MPs on the committee, Mrs May said she was "disappointed" by the peer's decision and that a replacement would be announced as soon as possible.
Committee chairman Keith Vaz said the peer's resignation after just six days showed the inquiry process launched by Mrs May last week was becoming "somewhat shambolic".
"I reject any suggestion that it is, in your words, unravelling," Mrs May said.
"I continue to believe that (Lady Butler-Sloss) would have done an excellent job, given her experience, expertise and absolute integrity..."
Baroness Butler-Sloss, who had rejected calls to quit, said in a statement earlier that following "a widespread perception" she was not the right person to chair the inquiry, "I did not sufficiently consider whether my background and the fact my brother had been Attorney General would cause difficulties".
She said: "Having listened to the concerns of victim and survivor groups and the criticisms of MPs and the media, I have come to the conclusion that I should not chair this inquiry and have so informed the Home Secretary."
Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who has been leading a campaign for a full investigation into the claims, said she had made "the right decision".
He told Sky News: "From the moment it was announced I questioned the logic of having somebody who was so well-connected to the establishment. We always needed somebody who was more independent and could challenge the establishment like she never could."
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the probe was "in danger of losing direction" unless a replacement that could "maintain the confidence of victims throughout" was appointed.
Sky's Home Affairs Correspondent Mark White said the resignation had dealt the Government "a terrible headache" and they have to find someone "who can command the credibility they thought the Baroness would have been able to command".
White added: "They need to do that fairly urgently now, but they have got to be careful they don't make the same mistake."
Last week, Mark Sedwill, the top civil servant at the Home Office, admitted more than 100 files containing allegations of child sex abuse at Westminster were probably destroyed.