22 Oct

One of us, Madam?

Fiona Woolf is being interviewed by a House of Commons Select Committee concerning her eligibility to be chairman of a new enquiry into historic child abuse. Charities supporting the victims of such abuse have objected to Mrs Woolf’s appointment on the grounds that she is too close to the very Establishment which is suspected of covering up the abuse. They have singled out in particular the fact that Mrs Woolf was at five dinner parties with Leon Brittan, the former home secretary.

Mrs Woolf denies being a member of the Establishment. I suppose the next thing we shall hear is Bill Gates telling us he’s not rich.

Not a member of the Establishment? Of course she isn’t…

She was Aldermanic Sheriff of London. Now she is the 686th Lord Mayor of London and lives in Mansion House. Global ambassador for UK finance. President of the Law Society. Honorary member of Middle Temple and on the Court of three City of London livery companies. A governor of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Chairman of Chelsea Opera.

She is CBE and, when she’s completed her mayoral year, she will in all probability and following the usual pattern, be created Dame Fiona Woolf.

Nah – not a member of the Establishment – just an ordinary gel!

Not only is Mrs Woolf at the very centre of where it’s at in the traditional Establishment, she is also at the very centre of the new Establishment of Fashionable & Politically-correct Causes. Her declared project when she was elected Lord Mayor was the furtherance of women in executive careers. She is also a big noise in the Raleigh Trust which promotes sustainable development.

She said on the BBC this morning that she has to maintain her “network.” More dinner parties with cabinet ministers, I suppose, and fellow members of the Great and the Good. One of the ways in which she maintains her “network” – so she told us – is to send 3000 Christmas cards. She was asked if she sent a Christmas card to Leon Brittan and replied she couldn’t remember – which might seem to undermine the purpose of sending Christmas cards in the first place.

None of these things disqualifies Mrs Woolf from chairing the enquiry to which she has been appointed.

But not a member of the Establishment?

I must remember to ask her about that at the next Mansion House banquet.