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Bishop hits out at delay in abuse probe led by lawyer with Leon Brittan links

Fiona Woolf urged to step down from abuse inquiry over Leon Brittan links

A senior Church of England bishop has criticised delays created by the controversial appointment of a high-profile lawyer to lead the Government’s historic child abuse inquiry.

The Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, who is the chairman of the Church’s committee on abuse, said that the long-awaited investigation would not start work until almost five months after it was announced, because of Fiona Woolf’s existing workload.

And he highlighted concerns that until the inquiry begins, officials accused of a cover-up could be shredding important documents

His intervention comes after The Mail on Sunday revealed Mrs Woolf has close links to Tory grandee Leon Brittan, accused of failing to investigate alleged VIP paedophile rings when Home Secretary.

It can also be revealed that the 66-year-old commercial lawyer, who, as Lord Mayor of London, has spent much of the past month on overseas business, has not yet responded to urgent calls to appear before MPs. Bishop Butler told a child protection conference: ‘Given her very heavy duties as Lord Mayor, it is hard to see how the inquiry will be able to get under way until late November at the earliest.

‘This is an unfortunate delay, since the initial announcement was made in early July. It has already led to concerns being expressed about files being shredded in Government departments and elsewhere.’

Read More: Bishop hits out at delay in abuse probe led by lawyer with Leon Brittan links