Former Child Abuse Inquiry Chief Lowell Goddard "Disgraceful"

Sky News
November 24, 2016

Dame Lowell Goddard's refusal to give evidence to MPs following her resignation as chairwoman of the inquiry into child sexual abuse was "disgraceful", a report has concluded.

The Home Affairs Committee has been reviewing the inquiry, which has been beset by problems since it was set up in 2014.

In its report, the committee said it would invoke its power to summon the New Zealand judge - who became the third inquiry chief to resign, if she returns to the UK.

Confidence in the inquiry's work had been "seriously diminished", the report found.

Committee chairman Yvette Cooper described Dame Lowell Goddard's behaviour as "shameful" and said the inquiry had to be effective "for the sake of survivors and child protection".

She said: "So far it has been beset by problems and it needs to sort them out fast.

"It is shameful that the former chair won't give oral evidence about what happened under her leadership."

Ms Cooper said the inquiry was "far too important to be sunk by problems" and that "urgent action" was needed to sort them out.

"Survivors of abuse deserve nothing less," she said.

Yvette Cooper has called for the problems to be sorted out 'fast'

The report also mentioned allegations of bullying and sexual assault within the inquiry, saying they had not been "taken seriously enough".

It also said senior lawyers had left the inquiry at "an alarming rate" and that there was a risk to its authority "if there is a perception of a cover-up over allegations of abuse".

Failures within the inquiry have already prompted one survivors group to pull out.

In response to the report, current chairwoman Professor Alexis Jay said: "Nobody is more determined to deliver a successful inquiry on behalf of victims, survivors and the wider public than the panel and myself.

"We recognise that the past few months have been difficult for the inquiry and for the victims and survivors who have placed their trust in it.

"I am personally sorry for any unnecessary anxiety the inquiry may have caused to victims and survivors during this transitional period."

In a letter to the committee, Dame Lowell refused to give evidence about her resignation and said it would be "unacceptable" for allegations against her to be aired in public, where those who make them are protected from prosecution.

She said she had been the "subject of malicious defamatory attacks" in the UK media and had informed the committee of "the falsity of these and their apparent purpose".

Dame Lowell revealed in October that she had quit.

She described a crunch meeting on 4 August when three of the four members of the panel confronted her over allegations about her behaviour - claims which she has denied.

Dame Lowell said it then became clear she did not have the support of her team and she resigned from the ?360,000-a-year position.

The inquiry's brief stretches back 60 years and covers allegations of abuse at institutions including the church, schools, councils and Westminster.

It is expected to run for at least 10 years and cost about ?100m.








Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.