Saturday, 8 November 2014

Does Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss have an instinct to protect the powerful?

In July Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss was appointed to head the Home Office's Child Abuse Inquiry.

Only days later she had to resign due to a visible conflict of interests relating to her late brother Sir Michael Havers.

See, for example, 'Conflict of interest' raised over Butler-Sloss role in child abuse inquiry

A number of media reports referred to Sir Michael Havers' attempt to prevent or discourage the late Member of Parliament Geoffrey Dickens from naming Sir Peter Hayman as a paedophile using Parliamentary Privilege.

Fewer media reports mentioned the much more serious issue of Sir Michael Havers' role in the supposed "inquiry" into child abuse at the Kincora Boys' Home.

The Chair of the Inquiry, Judge Hughes remarked about the scope of the Inquiry:

“The conduct of the police, or elected representatives, or clergymen, or military intelligence or any other persons who may have been in receipt of allegations, information or rumours relating to Kincora or any other home, was not under scrutiny in this inquiry.”
The supposed Inquiry didn't inquire at all into a possible cover-up by the groups that Judge Hughes named.

Nor did Judge Hughes' inquire into the conduct of the judiciary, so far as I'm aware.

All very convenient for the Establishment.

It seems that Sir Michael Havers had an instinct to protect the powerful at least with respect to the diplomat Sir Peter Hayman and those who might have participated in a cover-up of child abuse at the Kincora Boys' Home.

All mainstream media reports I have seen used terms such as "unimpeachable integrity" ro refer to Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss.

Is it really the case that questions cannot reasonably be asked about Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss?

Could Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss share her late brother's instinct to protect the powerful

It seems to me that Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss may indeed have an instinct to protect the powerful.

In 2005 Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss provided a false name for the claimant and respondent in a claim that was made against King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. Butler-Sloss assigned the title Maple v Maple to the case.

It did make it pretty difficult for the public to realise who the parties to the case were.

See Judge protected king with false name

Butler-Sloss then went on to give a judgment that the King was entitled to "Sovereign Immunity". Her decision is reported to have been overturned by the Court of Appeal.

The Family Division, at least sometimes with good reason, is a particularly secretive part of the English High Court.

As a result it is possible that Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss's liking of secrecy may not be confined to Maple v Maple.

Of course, exploring whether there are further judicial mini-skeletons in the cupboard won't be easy.

So much for Butler-Sloss's instinct for secrecy.

Are there any actions of Butler-Sloss that are directly relevant to child abuse allegations?

Indeed so. Butler-Sloss omitted the name of a Church of England Bishop from a report on child abuse in the Church of England.

See Baroness Butler-Sloss hid claims of bishop's sex abuse

Was that, too, a reflection of Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss's seeming instinct to protect the powerful?

In addition, there are unanswered questions about Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss's approach to the Cleveland Child Abuse Inquiry.

The key issue raised by Beatrix Campbell here,
A child abuse inquiry requires a truth-seeker. Grabbing a grandee isn't enough
is whether Butler-Sloss's  Cleveland Inquiry  "was a model of establishment guile and bad faith".

Did Butler-Sloss conduct the Cleveland Child Abuse Inquiry in such a way as to obscure the true extent of child abuse?

That's what Beatrix Campbell alleges. She puts it like this:

Though her report did not, ultimately, doubt the diagnosis, it encouraged the myth that it was all wrong.
If Beatrix Campbell is correct in her analysis there are very serious questions indeed to be asked about the past conduct of Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss.

I hope in due course to have the time to study the evidence to arrive at my own view as to whether or not Butler-Sloss's Cleveland Inquiry "was a model of establishment guile and bad faith".

It's a question worth asking, don't you agree?

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