Following conclusion of the substantive hearings in the child migration case study the IICSA is making progress across many areas. It is also gradually making its position clear on how it will deal with evidence and the conclusions it will reach including on the thorny issue of whether it needs to make findings of fact about specific allegations.
The current status in the 13 investigations is as follows:
|Children Overseas||The Child Migration Case Study heard further evidence from 10 – 21 July 2017. The report in this case study is due to be published later this year.|
|Rochdale etc||This will be the second investigation to hold full evidential hearings. These are due to commence on 9th October 2017.|
|Roman Catholic||Full evidential hearings will proceed in connection with the English Benedictine Congregation from 27 November – 15 December 2017, starting with focus on Ampleforth and Downside. Consideration will be given thereafter to whether it is necessary to consider evidence re Worth and to assess the progress of the criminal trial linked to Ealing Abbey and how and when that evidence should be considered. Matters relating to Fort Augustus will be left for consideration by the Scottish Inquiry. No date has yet been set for the case study in to the Archdiocese of Birmingham. There will not be a separate case study in to the Comboni Missionary Order.|
|Nottinghamshire||The first preliminary hearing considered amendments to the scope of this investigation and noted that a decision about specific case studies and a substantive timetable will be made later this year. This is still awaited.|
|The Internet||Core participant applications were invited to be submitted by 28th July. They are just in connection with “the adequacy of the response of law enforcement agencies to child sexual abuse facilitated by the internet” A preliminary hearing will proceed on 19th September.|
|Accountability & Reparation||There have been no formal developments|
|Anglican||There have been no formal developments|
|Lord Janner||There have been no formal developments|
|Westminster||There have been no formal developments|
|Children in Custody||There have been no formal developments|
|Lambeth||There have been no formal developments|
|Residential Schools||There have been no formal developments|
|Child Sexual Exploitation||There have been no formal developments|
Findings of Fact – The thorny issue of findings of fact has again been addressed in the most recent determination in connection with the Roman Catholic investigation. The disputed issue is whether the Inquiry can make determination about an organisation’s handling of an allegation of sexual abuse without concluding that the abuse did or did not occur. For victims and survivors they consider that it is necessary to consider the allegations and to make findings of fact as a result. The Inquiry has concluded that it is not proportionate to consider each and every allegation and make a finding of fact in each case. It may be appropriate to do so in some circumstances but the focus of the Inquiry must be on the institutional response to the allegations and not the veracity of the allegations themselves. It may be the case that the Inquiry concludes there were failings in how an institution responded to an allegation even if in due course the allegation was unproven. The determination on this subject makes the Inquiry’s approach clear “It simply would not be possible in the context of this investigation for the Inquiry to hear evidence relating to each and every allegation of child sexual abuse in connection with the institutions selected for particular scrutiny during the public hearings and thereafter to make findings in relation to each and every one of them. To do so in a way that is fair to all those involved would entail undertaking quasi-criminal trials. Not only is the standard of proof in an Inquiry different, but doing so would significantly extend the length of our public hearings……..I am determined to conduct the Inquiry proportionately, within a reasonable timescale and without unnecessary cost.”
Confidentiality Undertakings – a number of victims and survivors had raised concerns about all core participants being made to sign confidentiality undertakings. The Inquiry has now confirmed that that remains appropriate and will be required from all core participants.
The research project continues its work both with publication of papers and the holding of seminars. Having commissioned the University of Huddersfield to undertake a rapid evidence assessment in to quantifying online facilitated child sexual abuse and exploitation, a request has been made for any data on this subject to be provided by 9th September.
The focus on the truth project as what appears to be the central core of the Inquiry continues with Prof Jay and the panel regularly travelling to speak with victims and survivors and to promote the work of this project. Most recently the Truth Project has been in North Wales.
Written by Paula Jefferson, partner at BLM