12 June 2013
A senior UK lawyer with 35 years experience of family law is being nominated to chair the Committee of Inquiry into Historical Abuse.
Sally Bradley QC was first called to the Bar in 1978 and was appointed as Queen’s Counsel in 1999. She was appointed as a Recorder in 2000 and as a Deputy High Court Judge in 2001. For many years her legal and judicial work has had a particular emphasis on child care work including cases of serious physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
On 6 March 2013 the States agreed that the Chairman of the Committee of Inquiry should be a senior legally qualified person from outside Jersey and that he or she should be selected by a Panel comprising the Greffier of the States and two independent people from the UK. The Greffier of the States, Michael de la Haye, invited Belinda Smith, Senior Legal Counsel – Child Protection at the NSPCC and Ed Marsden, the Managing Partner of Verita, to form the selection panel. Informal discussions were held in the UK with 14 potential chairmen before four people were invited to Jersey at the end of May for a formal interview.
Michael de la Haye said “The selection panel agreed that the Chairman needed to have appropriate experience to chair the inquiry either through having chaired similar public inquires elsewhere or perhaps through sitting as a judge. We considered that it was also important, if possible, for the Chairman to have significant experience of dealing with victims of abuse and crucial that he or she had a suitable personal style and manner to handle witnesses appropriately. It goes without saying that we also needed to be satisfied that the person selected would take a robust and totally objective approach to the work to ensure that the inquiry was effective.”
“At the end of the meetings we held in Jersey the selection panel was unanimous that Sally Bradley QC’s knowledge and experience made her eminently suitable for this role. She has vast experience of dealing with vulnerable people and an in-depth understanding of matters such as the impact that abuse in childhood can have throughout a victim’s life. In addition she has, for the last 12 years, sat regularly as a Recorder and as a Judge of the Family Division of the High Court presiding over extremely challenging and complex cases, many of which have involved allegations of serious abuse of children, and we considered that this judicial experience was particularly relevant.”
Mrs Bradley’s appointment must be approved by the States and the Chief Minister will be lodging a proposition in the coming days so that the appointment can be considered by the Assembly on 16 July. Steps are now being taken by the selection panel, working with the proposed Chairman, to identify two committee members. It's hoped they will be appointed by the States Assembly in September so that the Committee can begin its work in the autumn.
Mrs Bradley said “I am honoured to have been nominated to serve as Chairman of the Committee of Inquiry. I know that many people in Jersey have been waiting for a long time for the Committee to be established and once the two committee members have been appointed I am keen for the inquiry to begin work as soon as possible. I intend to devote myself entirely to this work from the autumn so that we can conclude the inquiry within the timescale set out by the States Assembly. It will be very important for the inquiry to be run in a way which encourages all those who want to give evidence to us to do that and I am determined to manage the inquiry in that way. It is vital that the Committee of Inquiry gets to the truth in a fair and objective way for all concerned and I realise how important it is for the Island of Jersey that the inquiry achieves this objective.”