Ex-abuse inquiry chief Dame Lowell Goddard who earned £500,000 a year from the public purse is branded 'disgraceful' for refusing to appear in front of MPs

  • Yvette Cooper slammed the New Zealand judge in a public response
  • The Home Affairs Committee wants a full explanation for her actions  
  • Goddard quit the probe in August amid allegations about her behaviour
  • She had provided written evidence but refused to appear in person  

The former chairwoman of the beleaguered inquiry into child abuse was branded 'disgraceful' today by MPs demanding she give evidence on her resignation.

Dame Lowell Goddard quit the vast probe in August and has since faced allegations about her behaviour and conduct in the lucrative post.

Dame Lowell, who has returned to her native New Zealand, has answered questions posed by the Home Affairs Committee in writing but refused to return to London to appear in person or give evidence over video link.

Yvette Cooper, the chairwoman of the influential committee, said: 'Dame Lowell Goddard's refusal to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee about her resignation from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse Is disgraceful.

Dame Lowell Goddard has refused to appear before MPs to explain her shock resignation in person, insisting she can better explain her position in writing. Home Affairs committee chief Yvette Cooper branded her position 'disgraceful' 

She warned Dame Lowell the committee would now investigate what powers it had to summon her to Parliament should she ever return to Britain.

Ms Cooper continued: 'Dame Lowell 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.

'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.

Home Affairs Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper branded Dame Lowell's response 'astonishing' 

'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.

'The Committee has always believed it is vital that Dame Lowell Goddard gives oral evidence to us and we will explore what options are available to us to require her to come before the Committee should she enter the UK again at any time in the future.'

Last week, Dame Lowell told MPs she believed campaigners published articles in the press in the hope of dealing a 'fatal' blow to the inquiry by forcing her to become the third head to resign the post.

She was replaced by Professor Alexis Jay, who had been serving as a member of the inquiry panel, who has previous experience running inquiries into abuse allegations. 

In her eight-page written submission to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC), the New Zealand judge acknowledged there were 'tensions' within the inquiry team.

Professor Alexis Jay became the fourth chairwoman of the inquiry after Dame Lowell's shock resignation from the post in July 

Explaining the background to her resignation, Dame Lowell said the inquiry had been subject to 'real and increasing strain' since March from 'intensifying' media criticism.


July 7, 2014 - Theresa May, then home secretary, announces a public inquiry with the remit of investigating whether 'state and non-state institutions' have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse within England and Wales. Its chairwoman will be Baroness Butler-Sloss, a retired High Court judge.

July 9 - Baroness Butler-Sloss faces calls to quit due to a potential conflict of interest over a family connection. Her late brother, Sir Michael Havers, was attorney general in the 1980s. Then prime minister David Cameron stands by the appointment.

July 14 - Baroness Butler-Sloss steps down.

September 5 - Dame Fiona Woolf, a leading tax lawyer and then Lord Mayor of the City of London, is appointed as the new chairwoman of the inquiry.

October 22 - Child sex abuse victim launches a legal challenge against Dame Fiona's appointment over her suitability for the role. She is accused of having 'close association' with Lord Leon Brittan, the late Labour peer against whom allegations of sex abuse were later dropped.

October 31 - Dame Fiona quits as chairwoman.

February 4, 2015 - Mrs May tells the House of Commons she is disbanding the former inquiry into child sex abuse and setting up a new statutory inquiry. Dame Lowell Goddard - described as 'one of the most respected and experienced judges in the Commonwealth' - is announced as its chairwoman. 

March 12 - New inquiry is set up with same remit as first.

April 29 - Dame Lowell announces the inquiry will conduct a full investigation into the issues surrounding the allegations of sexual abuse against Lord Greville Janner, citing 'clear public interest' over the adequacy of institutional responses to allegations against public figures.

July 9 - Dame Lowell officially opens the inquiry.

October 16 - Former child protection manager Peter McKelvie resigns from the inquiry's Victims' and Survivors Consultative Panel as it is revealed that he may face questioning over his own handling of pursuing allegations of child sex abuse.

November 27 - Inquiry announces its first 12 investigations and Dame Lowell says she is committed to completing the in inquiry in five years. 

December 19 - Lord Janner dies aged 87.

March 9, 2016 - Inquiry holds first hearing on the investigation into allegations against Lord Janner.

August 4 - Dame Lowell writes to Home Secretary Amber Rudd to offer her resignation citing her career and family life.

This centred on claims of unfairness in the investigation of allegations against late Labour peer Lord Janner and 'developed into widening personal attacks on me and my competence', including reports about her extended absence overseas, she said.

By late July, the reports had had 'a damaging internal impact on the inquiry and me', said Dame Lowell, adding: 'I believe this is when the team lost their nerve about my ability to continue leading the inquiry, which I perceived to be the objective of those behind the publications.

'I considered both the impact of this campaign and the effect which I saw it to have. The allegations were false but they had already done their damage.

'I nevertheless believed that, having made the commitment to the victims and survivors, I had to continue to see it through.

'I was also very concerned that if the inquiry lost a third chair that might prove fatal for it, which was clearly what the campaigners were seeking to achieve.

'The pressure was relentless, as was the impact on panel members and all who felt deeply their responsibility to the inquiry.'

It was only after three members of the inquiry's panel came to see her on August 4 and made clear she no longer had the support of senior colleagues that she decided to quit.

Dame Lowell insisted that the decision to resign was hers alone, adding: 'There was no contact with the Home Secretary or the Home Office before I made my decision and no earlier pressure either.'

She said she regarded the decision as 'right', but she regretted not calling Home Secretary Amber Rudd personally to tender her resignation.

She said a panel member had later confirmed that the team's 'loss of confidence in my leadership' had been prompted by adverse press commentary on her performance at a preliminary hearing into Lord Janner's case on July 26. But she insisted she did not regard the criticism as 'justified'.

She added: 'I categorically deny that there was any basis for any allegation of misconduct raised, or causing, or connected to my resignation.'

Dame Lowell said she had been aware of 'natural tensions' within the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) before the August 4 meeting, but believed that they were 'not serious'.

She acknowledged that her management of the inquiry had caused 'discomfort' among members of the inquiry's expert panel - who wanted to be involved in legal, procedural and managerial decisions which she believed were for her alone.

A meeting called in March to bring panel members to 'a better understanding of their role' resulted in 'heated' discussions about the inquiry's spending and management of legal work, she said.

But she insisted that the meeting - which she did not attend - was 'successful', and denied suggestions that an external facilitator had been called in to improve her working relationship with the panel.

Dame Lowell insisted that she had 'the apparent support, both given and expressed' of the panel throughout her chairmanship, and said that members agreed that attacks on her were 'aimed at undermining me for the wider purpose of undermining the inquiry itself'.


Dame Lowell has dismissed criticisms of her trips to New Zealand and Australia during her 18-month chairmanship, insisting that she was authorised and equipped to 'work remotely' and remained in contact with the inquiry at all times

The Home Office created a package for Dame Lowell Goddard that made her Britain's best paid civil servant.

Her basic salary was £360,000 and the deal was worth £500,000 a year including all benefits. 

Dame Lowell's rent, car, driver and £12,000-a-year utility bills allowance were all picked up by the taxpayer.

Four business-class return flights to New Zealand for her and her husband, plus two return economy flights a year for her children, were also part of her package.

The cost of all these flights would have cost about £55,000 a year.

Before she even took the job, the judge billed the Home Office for £15,000 in first class flights for her and her husband. 

After she quit, Dame Lowell was handed a pay off worth £90,000.  

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