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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 January, 2004, 00:02 GMT
Soham school inquiry date fixed
Ian Huntley
Huntley had been investigated several times
An inquiry into the vetting failures that allowed Soham killer Ian Huntley to get a job at a school will have its first public session next week.

He was convicted of murdering Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman last month.

Soon after Home Secretary David Blunkett announced the inquiry would be carried out by former civil servant Sir Michael Bichard.

Many were shocked Huntley could get a job as a school caretaker despite a string of underage sex allegations.

On Tuesday, Sir Michael will read a public statement as to how he will carry out the inquiry.

Representatives from Humberside and Cambridgeshire Police, the two forces who dealt with Huntley, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, the Home Office and Social Services are likely to be at the first session in London.

Sir Michael is not expected to have any witnesses giving evidence until next month.

And the civil servant has not indicated if any of the Wells or Chapman families will give evidence.

Huntley was given two life sentences at the Old Bailey on 17 December and it emerged that he had been accused of rape before as well as indecent assault and a number of occasions of underage sex in or near Grimsby.

Despite having been investigated by the police on several occasions, he was not stopped from joining Soham Village College by those responsible for vetting.

Sir Michael said: "This tragic case has raised issues of significant public interest.

"There has been much media coverage and speculation as to what happened in respect both of Huntley and of the system more widely.

"I would assure those interested that I will be undertaking this inquiry in an entirely objective and independent fashion.

"In doing so I intend it to be thorough but to move quickly so that where there are any lessons to be learned, they can be quickly acted upon."

Mr Blunkett has also asked Chief Inspector of Constabulary Keith Povey to review Cambridgeshire Police's handling of the hunt for the girls' killer.

The BBC's Neil Bennett
"Sir Michael Bichard has promised to move quickly so that lessons learned can be acted on"

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