Child sex abuse inquiry: Social worker Prof Alexis Jay who helped expose Rotherham scandal named as new chair
Prof Alexis Jay said she would ‘fearlessly examine institutional failures’ A former social worker who helped expose the Rotherham abuse scandal has become the fourth chair of the beleaguered independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.
Prof Alexis Jay vowed to “fearlessly examine institutional failures, past and present” as she took up the role after the resignation of Dame Lowell Goddard.
Prof Jay has over 30 years’ experience of child protection during a career in local government which saw her become Scotland’s chief social work adviser. The families of child abuse victims appeared supportive of the choice when she emerged as the front-runner for the job in recent days.
However questions have been raised about her lack of legal experience, with Keith Vaz, the Labour MP and chair of the Home Affairs Committee, nothing she lacked “judicial qualifications”. Prof Jay becomes the fourth chair of the inquiry in two years after Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, Dame Fiona Woolf and Dame Goddard all left after questions were raised about their suitability.
The inquiry was up by Theresa May when she was in the Home Office and has a wide remit to investigate whether institutions within government and elsewhere “failed in their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation”. Prof Jay led the inquiry in child abuse in Rotherham which found that at least 1,400 children were subjected to appalling sexual exploitation in the town between 1997 and 2013.
She has since accused the Labour-dominated council of turning a blind eye to the problem because of “their desire to accommodate a community that would be expected to vote Labour, to not rock the boat, to keep a lid on it, to hope it would go away”.