Lowell Goddard branded a 'disgrace' after refusing to appear before MPs over her resignation from child sex abuse inquiry

By Michael Wilkinson
November 8, 2016

Dame Lowell Goddard

Dame Lowell Goddard, the former chair of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, is refusing to answer questions from MPs about her resignation.

The former High Court judge from New Zealand, who resigned from the beleaguered inquiry in August after less than 18 months in the role, said she was "not aware of any matter which remains unanswered".

In her post, Dame Lowell received £360,000 a year plus allowances and flight homes to New Zealand, while a committee of MPs heard that she had also secured an £80,000 pay-off.

She is now refusing to answer MPs' questions about her departure, either by flying back to London or by videolink, because doing so would pose an "unacceptable risk" that "malicious defamatory attacks in some UK media" could be repeated.

Dame Lowell has also warned that she will no longer respond to any further requests for interviews or comments.

Her refusal to appear before MPs has been branded "disgraceful" and an "astonishing response" from a paid public servant, by Yvette Cooper, chairman of the home affairs select committee.

Ms Cooper said: "Dame Goddard has been paid significant amounts of public money to do an extremely important job which she suddenly resigned from, leaving a series of questions about what has been happening over the last 18 months and why the Inquiry got into difficulties,” said Cooper.

"Yet rather than give oral evidence to answer these questions she is relying on the fact that she is out of the UK to avoid the requirement to give evidence to Parliament.

"This is an astonishing response from a paid public servant who should know how important transparency is in an inquiry as sensitive and crucial as this one. Child abuse survivors have been let down by the extremely rocky start to this inquiry and we do need answers as to why it went wrong in order to be confident it is back on track now."

In a letter to Ms Cooper, Dame Lowell also said she was "disappointed" the British government had not defended her against "malicious defamatory attacks in some UK media".

Ms Cooper said her committee would now explore how they could require Dame Goddard to come before them if she returns to the UK in the future.

Dame Lowell was replaced by Professor Alexis Jay, who also led the Rotherham abuse inquiry, which concluded in 2014 that 1,400 children had been subjected to sexual abuse in the town.



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