The third chairman appointed to the independent inquiry into historic child sex abuse claims, who was on a salary of half a million pounds a year, has stepped down after revelations that she had spent the first three months on the job overseas or on holiday. New Zealand High Court judge Lowell Goddard resigned “with immediate effect” just hours after revelations by The Times that she had spent the first three months on the job either on holiday or overseas, primarily in her home country, and had only had two meetings with inquiry officials.
However, Ms. Goddard blamed the magnitude of the inquiry and “its
legacy of failure, which has been very hard to shake off”. She added:
“With hindsight, it would have been better to have started completely
She also said that it had been “incredibly difficult” for her to
leave her family, despite her and her husband having four return flights
plus two return flights for her family to New Zealand as part of her
£500,000 a year salary package.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Committee, which
approved Ms. Goddard’s appointment last year, said that he was
astonished by her decision. “We will expect a full explanation from both
the Prime Minister and the new Home Secretary,” he said.
The judge’s performance has also been heavily criticised after she appeared to struggle at a preliminary hearing. The Times reported
that more than a year after it formally opened the inquiry has amassed
millions of pages of documents but has yet to take any evidence from
Two years ago then Home Secretary Theresa May announced the creation
of Britain’s biggest child sex abuse inquiry after claims of an
establishment cover-up over sex assaults, which centred on the recently
deceased Lord Janner. The peer is alleged to have abused children over a period spanning more than 30 years and dating back to the 1950s.
But the enquiry is intended to go wider throughout Westminster and
to cover a dozen institutions including schools, local authorities, and
Anglican and Roman Catholic churches. The inquiry is to carry out 13
separate investigations, and is expected to take at least ten years to
Ms. Goddard is the third appointment to the role, the previous two chairmen resigned
amidst criticism for their links to the establishment. Baroness
Butler-Sloss stepped down when it was revealed her brother had been Lord
Chancellor during the period of investigation, and Fiona Woolf’s links
with Lord Brittan – who is likely to be called to give evidence – also
led to her resignation.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd stated: “I want to assure everyone with an
interest in the inquiry, particularly victims and survivors, that the
work of the inquiry will continue without delay and a new chair will be
Phil Frampton, of the abuse survivors’ group Whiteflowers, said:
“Goddard stepping down is another opportunity to finally get the child
abuse inquiry on to the right track. She was the wrong choice from the
beginning. She came from a judicial system in a country which is 20
years behind the UK.”