Fiona Woolf announced Friday night that she had resigned as the head of the inquiry into historic child sex abuse after facing extraordinary pressure to quit.

She had been urged to stand down by representatives of child abuse victims had after fresh revelations emerged about her links to former Home Secretary Lord Brittan.

They also criticised her lack of expertise on the subject of child abuse.

Christine Sands, Head of the Child Abuse Claims Department at Jordan’s Solicitors said: “The inquiry is clearly important and deals with highly sensitive issues. The person ultimately leading the inquiry needs to strike a balance in terms of experience and qualifications but we also have to remember that it is not just built around the work of one person.

“Expertise from a range of areas will also be needed and it has to be hoped that the important investigations that need to take place are not going to be hindered while a new inquiry head is found. “

In a statement Mrs Woolf said: “I did not think it was going to be possible for me to chair [the inquiry] without everybody’s support.”

She told the BBC that it has been clear to her for some time that she did not have the confidence of the victims. and that it had been “brewing for some time”.

She said: “I was determined that the inquiry got to the bottom of the issues and if I don’t command their confidence to run the panel fairly and impartially then I need to get out of the way.

“It has been brewing for some time. Ever since the issue first arose I have been worrying about the negative perceptions and there has been a lot of negative comment and innuendo and that has got in the way as well.”

The calls for her resignation came mere hours before representatives of child abuse victims were due to meet inquiry officials for the first time and appeared to leave Woolf in an increasingly shaky position at its helm.

Home Secretary Theresa May said she had regrettably accepted Mrs Woolf’s resignation.

Mrs May – who made a statement in the Commons yesterday – said the inquiry panel would continue its work while a new chairman was appointed

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