Who Will Lead The Child Abuse Inquiry?
She has boxed herself in by promising to make the announcement of who will lead the child abuse inquiry by the end of January.
The hours are counting down – she simply cannot afford another delay, for another promise to survivors to go unfulfilled.
For some time now her team at the Home Office has been making the kind of thorough checks that they failed to make with Baroness Butler-Sloss and Fiona Woolf.
To those who were abused by members of the British establishment it simply isn’t good enough to have someone who has even the loosest links to that establishment.
We know much of the panel’s work will focus on politicians, the judiciary, the military and others who consider themselves to be at the top of society. Theresa May needs someone with authority but also independence. So who might that be?
BEN EMMERSON QC
The current counsel to the inquiry may be a logical choice given the fact that Theresa May needs the inquiry to make meaningful progress as soon as possible.
Mr Emmerson is already familiar with the people involved and the discussions they have had so far. He’s a leading human rights lawyer who has previously tried Rwandan war criminals and is a UN legal expert on counter-terrorism.
He has, though, clashed with one abuse inquiry panel member, Sharon Evans, who claimed he had “bullied and intimidated” her. The Home Office dismissed the claims as “unfounded”.
Currently the Deputy Children’s Commissioner for England, Sue Berelowitz told Sky News earlier this month that she’d be
“extremely pleased” to offer her leadership or expertise to the inquiry.
She has a strong track record working across a range of children’s services for the past three decades.
She recently chaired a national inquiry into child sexual exploitation in gangs and is seen as someone who is prepared to speak out and highlight difficult issues.
Ms Berelowitz started out as a speech and language therapist before gaining a Masters in Social Work from Sussex University. She sits on a number of national bodies and advisory boards.
MICHAEL MANSFIELD QC
The maverick lawyer has said he would “absolutely” like to take on the role overseeing the troubled inquiry.
He has had a long, colourful career working on high profile cases including the Birmingham Six appeals and the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. He also represented Mohammed al Fayed at the inquest into the death of his son and Diana, Princess of Wales.
Last year a group of sexual abuse survivors, care workers and lawyers wrote to Theresa May asking for him to be appointed.
The fourth option is perhaps the most intriguing. Could the Home Office plump for an overseas candidate who could come in and be a truly independent inquiry chair?
The US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are just some of the countries that could offer suitable people and the move would almost guarantee a candidate with no links to the British establishment.
Whoever takes on the role, convincing survivors that it will work this time is perhaps the biggest challenge.
Survivors are not one group of people who all think the same way. They are individuals who have been through life-changing experiences.
Each has their own opinions on how Theresa May and David Cameron should proceed.
They have grown tired of promises and assurances – they want action.