IICSA: Public hearings begin

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has issued the following Press Release concerning the commencement of its public hearings on 27 February. The inquiry was set up in 2014 by the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, and it has been delayed by controversy on the choice of chairperson, and resignations of senior legal staff. Professor Alexis Jay OBE is the fourth Chair of the Inquiry. In December 2016 she published the results of her internal review into the Inquiry’s ways of working. The report sets out how the Inquiry will carry out its work as swiftly and effectively as possible. The review sharpens the focus of the Inquiry and lays out a detailed schedule of work for 2017.

Public hearing in the Child Migration Programmes Case Study

News | 24 February

On Monday 27 February, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse begins its first public hearings. These relate to sexual abuse in the British child migration programmes and the institutional failings of organisations based in England and Wales.

The child migration programmes are a case study which is part of the Inquiry’s Protection of Children Outside the United Kingdom investigation.

The child migration programmes were large-scale schemes in which thousands of children, many of them in the care of the state, were systematically and permanently migrated to parts of the British Empire by various institutions in England and Wales, with the knowledge and approval of the British Government.  Most were sent to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and what was then Southern Rhodesia, modern-day Zimbabwe.  In 2010, the UK Government issued an apology for its role in the child migration programmes.

The Inquiry will hear from a number of former child migrants who have alleged that they suffered sexual abuse in relation to their migration in a range of institutions and contexts.  The Inquiry will also hear evidence from expert witnesses about the history and context of the child migration programmes and from the Child Migrants Trust, which supports former child migrants. A further public hearing is scheduled for July when the Inquiry will hear evidence on behalf of institutions and others involved in the child migration programmes.

The public hearings are about examining institutional failures by organisations in England and Wales, not finding individuals guilty or innocent.  Further investigations may be announced as the Inquiry progresses.

A timetable for the first week can be found in our library.


This investigation into child migration programmes is separate from those relating to abuse within religious organizations. However, the 7,000 and 10,000 British children from poor families and the care system, sent to live in Australia after World War Two, were recruited by religious institutions from both the Anglican and Catholic churches, or charities, including Barnardo’s and the Fairbridge Society, with the aim of giving them a better life.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "IICSA: Public hearings begin" in Law & Religion UK, 27 February 2017, https://lawandreligionuk.com/2017/02/27/iicsa-public-hearings-begin/

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