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Serious task: New Zealand High Court Judge Lowell Goddard has been appointed as the third chair of the inquiry into historical child sex abuse.

Serious task: New Zealand High Court Judge Lowell Goddard has been appointed as the third chair of the inquiry into historical child sex abuse.

Did anybody notice this in the mainstream media? It was reported, but not very strongly.

New Zealand High Court judge Lowell Goddard has been appointed as the third chair of Theresa May’s much-aborted inquiry into historical child sex abuse in the United Kingdom.

She has told the Commons Home Affairs select committee she wants to have the troubled inquiry “up and running” by early April and would aim to revisit past wrongs, clarify what happened and ensure children were protected from sexual abuse.

She also said she intended for the inquiry, which she has been told could take three to four years, to have a “truth and reconciliation” element to it, which would allow survivors to speak about their experiences in private if necessary – as well as an investigative function.

And she said she has no links to the establishment, telling MPs: “We don’t have such a thing in my country.” This last claim may be suspect!

Concerns have been raised about her record. According to one site, while heading the NZ Independent Police Conduct Authority, Justice Goddard concealed a number of serious complaints against police and, while Deputy Solicitor General, refused to release evidence that former judge Michael Lance was guilty of perverting justice in a police prosecution of his son Simon’s business partner, claiming it was not in the public interest to allow the prosecution.

But she dismissed allegations made by New Zealand bloggers by pointing out that her prime accuser has been officially certified a “vexatious litigant” and stressing that her record on child abuse included passing the longest sentence in New Zealand judicial history on a man who abused and murdered two girls.

So that’s all right then. Is it?

One of her first moves has been to end Theresa May’s experiment to put child abuse survivors on the panel. She said: “There are inherent risks in having people with personal experience of abuse as members of an impartial and independent panel.”

Blogger David Hencke, who has far more experience in these subjects than Yr Obdt Srvt, commented: “Frankly the row and bitter campaign by some organisations, l am afraid like the Survivors Alliance, against people appointed to the panel has ended in excluding survivors voices in the writing of the report. They have shot themselves in the foot.

“There will obviously be some appointed to an advisory panel, but no one should kid themselves that they will have the same influence as a member of the panel. It will be up to the judge to decide how often and how much they will be consulted but up to her and her QC adviser, Ben Emmerson, to decide what  will appear in the report.

“A radical experiment in setting up an inquiry to deal with one of the nastiest and most persistent blots in British public life – the exploitation of children by paedophiles – has been killed  with the help of the very people who suffered that fate.” [bolding mine]

Survivors will still be able to speak to the inquiry and also to the new People’s Tribunal now in the process of being set up, which has survivors on its steering committee.

Is this a good start – or another false one?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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