Published Thursday, 31 May 2012
Sir Anthony Hart will lead the inquiry into the abuse of children living in residential care in Northern Ireland between 1945 and 1995.
He began his law career in 1969 and was the first person to be appointed as Presiding Judge of the County Courts in Northern Ireland in 2002.
In January 2005 Sir Hart was promoted to be a High Court judge, and until his retirement in January he was responsible to the Lord Chief Justice for the pre-trial case management of all the Crown Court trials conducted by High Court judges, and presided over many criminal trials.
The First Minister and deputy First Minister expressed their confidence in Sir Anthony's leadership of the investigation.
"We are very pleased that Sir Anthony Hart has agreed to lead this Inquiry and we know that he will be unflinching in his pursuit of the truth and scrupulous in his analysis of the evidence," said Peter Robinson.
"The Inquiry will assess whether there were systemic failings by the state or institutions in their duties towards children under 18 for whom they provided residential care between 1945 and 1995.
"Many people have called for this inquiry. I am confident that the scope and nature of this process is robust, will provide a thorough examination of what happened and will get to the truth."
Martin McGuinness said the inquiry will include a confidential "acknowledgement forum" in which victims and survivors can recount their childhood experiences in institutions.
"We are pleased that Beverley Clarke, Norah Gibbons, Dave Marshall QPM, and Tom Shaw CBE have agreed to be the acknowledgement forum panel members. Each has unique personal experience of investigating child abuse and they are eminently suited to the role," he said.
The forum panel members will listen to and acknowledge the testimony of victims and their work will result in a report of their experiences.
Beverley Clarke has wide experience of social work and child care, working in Canada. She is an independent expert witness and has worked for the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office.
Norah Gibbons is Director of Advocacy in Barnardo's Ireland. She was also a Commissioner of the Ryan Inquiry into historical institutional abuse in Ireland.
Dave Marshall, QPM is a consultant in the field of child safeguarding, investigation and management. For nine years he was Detective Chief Inspector and head of the Metropolitan Police Child Abuse Investigation Command's Major Investigation Team.
Tom Shaw CBE reviewed the regulatory framework in Scotland designed to ensure the welfare needs and rights of children in residential institutions from 1945-1995. Subsequently he chaired a pilot forum for those who had experienced abuse in residential childrens' institutions in Scotland.
The inquiry is expected to begin its work in the autumn, and will report to the Executive in three years' time.
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