A previous written statement, published online two months ago, said Tom Crowther QC hoped to book a venue and invite people to hear about the probe’s ongoing work.
But a new notice, published at the Independent Inquiry into Telford Child Sexual Exploitation (IITCSE) website, says the government’s recent delay in lifting Covid-19 lockdown restrictions means the event “can no longer go ahead”.
Mr Crowther “has instead decided to convert the meeting into a virtual one” on Monday, July 5, it adds.
The inquiry had taken evidence from more than 100 witnesses and received nearly 1.3 million pages of written evidence at the time of the last quarterly update.
That written report, published on April 7, said: “As the Government Covid-19 restrictions in England begin to lift, it is hoped the chair may be able to deliver the next progress report in person in Telford, at a suitable venue where arrangements can be made to ensure the health and safety of all in attendance.”
On Monday Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions in England that was originally planned for the following week would be delayed until the following month.
A new notice, posted at the IITCSE’s website on Thursday, June 16, says “arrangements were at an advanced planning stage” to hold the planned physical meeting in early July, but “the chair has taken the decision that this can no longer go ahead”.
It adds: “That decision has also been influenced by the government’s recent updated guidance to stay local, impacting a number of local authorities where the new Covid-19 variant is spreading, as some attendees would be travelling to the meeting from these areas.
“The chair has instead decided to convert the meeting to a virtual one. Therefore, the next inquiry progress update will take place on Monday, July 5, 2021, at 5pm via a live Zoom meeting.
“The meeting will be recorded and a copy posted on the inquiry’s website for those that are unable to attend for whatever reason.”
Details of how to register to attend can be found at IITCSE.com
The notice adds that Mr Crowther, a former circuit judge who was appointed to lead the inquiry in June 2019, “remains committed to holding a further progress update in public in due course, which he hopes can take place in the early autumn”.