Child sex abuse inquiry: Amber Rudd vows to press on in wake of Dame Lowell Goddard resignation

Home secretary says the ‘success of this inquiry remains an absolute priority’

Caroline Mortimer
Thursday 04 August 2016 19:26
Justice Lowell Goddard, who is a high court judge in New Zealand, has resigned from the inquiry
Justice Lowell Goddard, who is a high court judge in New Zealand, has resigned from the inquiry

The inquiry into child sexual abuse will continue "without delay" the Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said, following the resignation of its chair Dame Lowell Goddard.

Justice Goddard became the third chair of the inquiry to resign after controversy over holidays and comments she made about not understanding English law.

The New Zealand high court judge was appointed as chair of the inquiry by then-Home Secretary Theresa May after the two previous charis were forced to stand down over their links to establishment figures.

Ms Rudd said in a statement: "I can confirm that Dame Lowell Goddard wrote to me today to offer her resignation as Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and I have accepted.

"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 appointed.

"I would like to thank Dame Lowell Goddard for the contribution she has made in setting up the inquiry so that it may continue to go about its vital work."

Ms Rudd wrote in her response to Justice Goddard's resignation letter: "I want to be absolutely clear. The success of this Inquiry remains an absolute priority for this Government."

Justice Goddard, who is Britain's highest paid civil servant, worked for 44 days in New Zealand and Australia since taking up her role in April last year, The Times reported.

This is in addition to her 30 days of annual leave - which equates to three working months outside the UK.

The inquiry, which was originally set up in 2014, has been long-set by delays following changes of chairwomen and the postponement of public hearings into several politician figures while police investigations are under way.

Justice Goddard also raised eyebrows by saying she was unsure of English law when she was asked about the delays caused by police investigations and did not seem to know whether her investigation should take priority.

When Ms May reconstructed the inquiry in March 2015, she gave it statutory powers which means it can compel any British citizen to give evidence.

The 67-year-old receives a basic salary of £360,000 a year but could receive more than £5 million in pay and perks as the inquiry could potentially last a decade, as a lawyer for the victim warned The Telegraph last week.

These perks include £40,000 worth of flights from the UK to New Zealand for her and her husband, an annual £110,000 rental allowance and £12,000 per year for utility bills.

The investigation has already cost £18m and 100 fresh allegations are made to it every week - a quarter of which are forwarded onto the police - but no evidence has yet been heard.

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