My Lords, I, too, am very grateful for the opportunity to speak in the gap in this debate. I wanted to take part in the debate, but felt some inhibition about doing so for two reasons. First, I was briefly instructed on behalf of the estate of the late Greville Janner in a civil claim—all the claims have now been withdrawn. Secondly, I gave a statement and evidence to IICSA. However, having heard the right reverend Prelate, who is in a similar provision, give his account to your Lordships’ House, it seemed only appropriate that I should at least briefly, without in any way compromising or suggesting any lack of independence on the inquiry, give a perhaps slightly different version of what took place.
My involvement in the inquiry came about because, 20 years ago, I was counsel instructed by the insurance company in the north Wales abuse cases and, as such, was instructed to cross-examine a number of claimants who were giving accounts of allegations and seeking damages for something that had happened 20 years before that. I gave a statement about my involvement, in so far as I could remember it. I was then subjected to some hostile cross-examination by counsel for the inquiry on the basis that my cross-examination had been too hostile and might well have upset the claimants seeking damages. I was even asked by one of those sitting with the chair whether I was aware of vulnerable witness training. I am. First, it did not apply 20 years ago and, secondly, it has never applied to civil claims for damages. So I was a little concerned by the inquiry’s approach. I remain hopeful that the inquiry will achieve a potentially extremely important task and that something will emerge from it, but my experience causes me a little anxiety, and I felt that in those circumstances, I should bring that to the House’s attention.