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HACKNEY ABUSE INQUIRY DELAYED UNTIL 1997

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An independent child abuse inquiry at Hackney LBC will not begin until next year. ...
An independent child abuse inquiry at Hackney LBC will not begin until next year.

John Barratt, the former Cambridgeshire CC chief executive who wrote the damning report on the Westminster asbestos scandal, has been appointed to lead the inquiry into Mark Trotter, the former Hackney social worker who died of Aids last year, amid fears that he abused children in his care.

But Mr Barratt is currently investigating last year's public disturbances in Bradford and will not be able to start the investigation until January.

Announcing the appointment, Hackney chief executive Tony Elliston said: 'Mr Barratt is a tough, credible and experienced investigator who has a high reputation in local government.'

Mr Elliston chose Mr Barratt from a shortlist of five candidates, conspicuous for the absence of any member of the recognised social services establishment.

The other candidates were former Northamptonshire CC chief executive Geoffrey Greenwell, former Norfolk CC chief executive Barry Capon, former Greenwich LBC chief executive Peter Brokenshire and Sir Brian Cubbon, formerly permanent secretary at the Home Office.

Prior to the appointment, Mr Elliston consulted Westminster City Council chief executive Bill Roots, who strongly recommended Mr Barratt. He will be paid £500 a day plus VAT for the duration of the inquiry.

The timing of the probe is supported by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children because it coincides with the likely completion of its efforts to trace children who may have come into contact with Mr Trotter.

Hackney New Labour spokesman Philip Pearson said: 'We're not entirely happy with the delay, but we bowed to the decision because Mr Barratt has such a strong reputation.'

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