Home Secretary names Alexis Jay as new chair of child sexual abuse inquiry

Professor Alexis Jay is to take over as chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced.

The child protection expert will become the fourth person to lead the probe after the resignation of Dame Lowell Goddard last week.

Professor Jay previously led an inquiry that revealed at least 1,400 children were subjected to sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

Ms Rudd said: “The Independent Inquiry has a vital role to play in exposing the failure of public bodies and other major organisations to prevent systematic child sexual abuse.

“I’m delighted Professor Alexis Jay has agreed to chair the Inquiry. She has a strong track record in uncovering the truth and I have no doubt she will run this independent Inquiry with vigour, compassion and courage.

“Let there be no doubt; our commitment to this Inquiry is undiminished.

“We owe it to victims and survivors to confront the appalling reality of how children were let down by the very people who were charged to protect them and to learn from the mistakes of the past.”

Prof Jay will take over as head of the inquiry having already served as a member of a four-person panel to assist the chair.

She said: “I am committed to ensuring this Inquiry does everything it has set out to do and does so with pace, with confidence and with clarity.

“Be in no doubt – the Inquiry is open for business and people are busier than ever working hard to increase momentum.

“The panel and I are determined to make progress on all parts of the Inquiry’s work, including speaking to victims and survivors.

“I am determined to overcome the challenges along the way.

“I will lead the largest public inquiry of its kind and together with my fellow panel members we will fearlessly examine institutional failures, past and present and make recommendations so that the children of England and Wales are better protected now and in the future.”

Former senior social worker who led Rotherham scandal inquiry

Alexis Jay is a former senior social worker who came to prominence when she led an inquiry that exposed the shocking scale of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

Published in 2014, her report detailing how at least 1,400 children were raped, trafficked and abused from 1997 to 2013 by gangs of largely Asian men provoked national outrage.

She delivered an uncompromising assessment of the scandal, describing collective failures of political and officer leadership as “blatant”.

Professor Jay’s work on that probe ensured that her appointment to chair the troubled Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was welcomed by campaign groups and lawyers representing victims.

However, she will now take on the considerably larger task of leading one of the most ambitious public inquiries ever undertaken in Britain.

She is visiting professor at Strathclyde University, where she chairs the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland.

Prof Jay worked for more than 30 years in local government, most recently as a director of social services.

She was chief inspector of social work in Scotland until 2011, and then chief social work adviser to the Scottish Government, as well as being a former president of the Association of Directors of Social Work.

She is also a trustee of the Royal Voluntary Service and chairwoman of the Life Changes Trust in Scotland.

Prior to her appointment as head of the abuse inquiry, Prof Jay, 67, was already serving on a four-person panel to assist the chair.

Born in Edinburgh, she was appointed an OBE in 2012 for services to children and families.

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