LONDON — Britain’s efforts to investigate a long list of child abuse scandals suffered another setback this week, when it emerged that the new head of a national inquiry was on “dinner party terms” with a former minister most likely to be questioned about an alleged cover-up.
The government’s first choice to lead the investigation, Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, a former senior judge, resigned from the job within days of being appointed last July, citing concerns over a conflict of interest: Her late brother, Michael Havers, was attorney general in the 1980s, when files containing allegations about high-profile pedophiles were passed to ministers and subsequently lost.
Now her successor, Fiona Woolf, a corporate lawyer, faces a legal challenge from a group of abuse victims regarding her links to the man who was home secretary when a number of those files went missing. The former home secretary, Leon Brittan, now a member of the House of Lords, Britain’s upper house of Parliament, is likely to be called before the inquiry to give evidence about allegations that he helped cover up sex abuse claims. Mr. Brittan has denied involvement in any cover-up. ….