Devastating farewell letter to former colleagues: this has been a ‘five-month nightmare’
By David Hencke and Alex Varley-Winter | 11 February 2015
One former member of the inquiry into child sex abuse has told ex-colleagues that he will not re-apply to join the new panel.
Graham Wilmer suggests in a farewell letter to ex-colleagues that no survivor of child sex abuse (CSA) will be appointed to the new panel. Therefore, as a CSA survivor himself, he sees no point in re-applying.
And in a devastating blow for the Home Office’s inquiry, Wilmer says that he will not even be part of any CSA advisory group to it.
Wilmer is director of the Lantern Project, a charity in Wallasey in Merseyside that supports other CSA survivors. He was one of the initial two members of the ill-fated panel, dissolved a week ago, and describes his time on it as a “five-month nightmare”.
As a member of the Anglicans’ and Methodists’ joint safeguarding liaison group, Wilmer has also been at the forefront of forcing the Church of England to recognise its problems with child sex abuse.
In addition, Wilmer was instrumental in making the police launch an investigation into the sexual abuse of children at schools run by a Catholic order in Great Britain – the Salesians. The investigation exposed a priest and teacher who masqueraded as a child psychotherapist but was a “prolific paedophile”.
Theresa May, home secretary, indicated to Parliament last week that “advisers” to the inquiry may include CSA survivors. She announced Lowell Goddard, a New Zealand judge, as chairwoman of a new statutory panel inquiry.
May’s Labour shadow, Yvette Cooper, asked for an assurance that the panel would continue to include CSA survivors.
May did not answer directly, but said: “The Inquiries Act 2005 provides the possibility of individuals being advisers – or assessors, as they are called – to a panel. I will explore with Justice Goddard how we can get the greatest breadth of input from survivors to ensure that their voice is truly heard in the inquiry’s work.”
In his farewell letter to fellow members of the dissolved inquiry panel, a copy of which has been passed to Exaro, Wilmer wrote: “I wanted to inform you that I will not be making any application to be part of the new Goddard inquiry, either as a panel member or as part of any survivors’ advisory group, in whatever form that may take.
“My reasons are these: firstly, I am led to understand that the new panel will not include any survivors, so making an application would be pointless in any case.”
He also blames what he describes as “the clarion voices” of people who falsely claim to represent those who suffered sexual abuse in their childhood, “and the aggressive and abusive tactics of the lone-wolf campaigners, together with the questionable motives of some lawyers and others who claim to represent the interests of survivors.”
“Finally, I want to be able to prosecute my own case, and those of the hundreds of survivors I support through my charity, without fear or favour, which would not be possible were I to have any connection to the inquiry, other than as an individual survivor or as a survivors’ advocate.
“It would be disingenuous of me to say that I have enjoyed the experience of the past few months in its totality, as I have not. But I have enjoyed meeting and getting to know you all, and those memories I will take with me from this short, but difficult journey.”
Wilmer’s farewell letter comes as Goddard is due to be questioned in a pre-appointment hearing this afternoon by MPs on the House of Commons home affairs committee.
Theresa May, home secretary, dissolved the inquiry panel at a tense meeting last week shortly before her announcement to Parliament.
Exaro then revealed that Lord Brittan, former home secretary, was buried in an unmarked grave following disclosures of a major police investigation into him over multiple allegations of rape and child sex abuse.
Yesterday, details of a private dinner were disclosed in which Bernard Weatherill, then speaker of the House of Commons, was stunned when a businessman who hoped to become a Conservative MP told him that Brittan was a paedophile.
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