The Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced that Professor Alexis Jay is the new Chairwoman of the Inquiry into sex abuse in England and Wales. Professor Jay led the abuse inquiry into the Rotherham abuse. She had previously been on the panel of advisers taking part in the investigation into claims made against public and private institutions.
Professor Jay will be the fourth Chairwoman of the inquiry and the first Chairwoman who is not a lawyer having worked in local Government for 30 years. Her work was mainly with councils in the deprived areas of Edinburgh and Glasgow. She was awarded an OBE in 2012 for her services to children and families.
BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman has said that questions “would inevitably be asked about her lack of judicial experience” but that she was regarded as giving done a fine job of leading the Rotherham Inquiry.” The independent inquiry into Rotherham found that at least 1,400 children were subjected to sexual exploitation in the town between 1997 to 2013.
People have come forward to support her appointment. Labour MP Keith Vaz Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee has said that, “Professor Jay was clearly a suitable candidate with vast experience”. Sarah Champion Labour’s Shadow Minister for preventing abuse and domestic violence has commented that, “Professor Jay was an honest and fearless woman.”
Professor Jay has stated that she is determined to make progress with the inquiry and that she is “committed to ensuring that the inquiry does everything it has set out to do with pace, confidence and clarity.”
Professor Jay has the full support of Amber Rudd who has commented that she is delighted that Jay has accepted the position and “has no doubt that she will run this independent enquiry with vigour, compassion and courage.”