Why did Goddard quit the child sex abuse inquiry?

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

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

The independent inquiry into child sexual abuse has been dogged by failure since it was set up – and the loss of its latest chair will fuel conspiracy theories that it was set up to fail.

Dame Lowell Goddard’s resignation letter does nothing to dispel such ideas, as it merely states that she is standing down with immediate effect.

A statement, released later, is no less opaque, despite considerably greater length. It runs as follows:

“I announce with regret my decision to resign as chair of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, effective from today.

“When I was first approached through the British High Commissioner in Wellington in late 2014, and asked to consider taking up the role, I had to think long and hard about it.

“After carefully discussing the matter with the home secretary and her officials and seeking the counsel of those people in New Zealand whose opinions mattered to me, I decided that I should undertake the role, given my relevant experience and track record in the area.

“It was, however, an incredibly difficult step to take, as it meant relinquishing my career in New Zealand and leaving behind my beloved family.

“The conduct of any public inquiry is not an easy task, let alone one of the magnitude of this. Compounding the many difficulties was its legacy of failure which has been very hard to shake off and with hindsight it would have been better to have started completely afresh.

“While it has been a struggle in many respects, I am confident there have been achievements and some very real gains for victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse in getting their voices heard.

“I have nothing but the greatest of respect for the victims and survivors and have particularly enjoyed working with the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel which I established.”

So, what is she saying? That she’s homesick? That she regrets leaving her career for this job? That the inquiry was too difficult for her?

Impossible to say.

All we know is that the next chairperson – the fourth – will have an even harder time making headway.

When she was appointed, back in February last year, Dame Lowell Goddard told the Commons Home Affairs select committee she wanted 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 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 had no links to the establishment – unlike the previous two abortive chairs, Baroness Butler-Sloss (stood down in July 2014 following questions over the role played by her late brother, Lord Havers, who was attorney general in the 1980s) and Dame Fiona Woolf (resigned following questions over her links to establishment figures) – telling MPs: “We don’t have such a thing in my country.”

Concerns had 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.

At this rate, the inquiry will not report until everybody implicated in its investigations is long-dead.

Some might question whether that’s the idea.

Dame Lowell Goddard has resigned as the head of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.

The New Zealand high court judge – selected after two previous chairwomen quit – said the probe had already made “very real gains for victims”.

The investigation was set up in March 2015 to examine claims made against public and private institutions.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said a new chairperson would be appointed and work would continue “without delay”.

Source: Child sex abuse inquiry: Judge Lowell Goddard quits – BBC News


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8 thoughts on “Why did Goddard quit the child sex abuse inquiry?

  1. plhepworth

    How about asking Lord Justice Leveson? He did a great job on the media inquiry, albeit with recommendations stymied by powerful establishment connections.

  2. David Woods

    The farce will continue until all MP’s linked to the abuse are dead!
    If it had been against ‘the man in the street’ everyone on the list would have been steamrolled by now but they are far more concerned about damage to their party’s reputation than the damage to the victims!

  3. Christopher Campbell.

    Best not look for conspiracies … makes things even more difficult for successor … she just bit off more than she could chew … had the grit to admit.

  4. mrmarcpc

    Simple, she’d been told to or else! The ones that did these terrible acts will either be dead already or too old to prosecute in the state’s eyes, that’s no excuse, if they’re still around, they should all be prosecuted!

  5. casalealex

    Institutionalised child abuse in this country is on such an incomprehensible scale, that it could take years to get any acceptable conclusion. Many of those involved in the abuse may die before they can be brought to account. And, unfortunately many of the children may be unable to give evidence due to age and may even have passed on.

    Whilst this Inquiry is taking its course what is being done to deal with current, (as I am sure it has not, and will not just stop because of this Inquiry), children who are still being systematically abused!

    Besides ‘institutionalised’ child abuse, there is still the untapped ‘familial’ abuse of children.

  6. Dave

    Dame Lowell Goddard is part of the New Zealand judiciary who have a history of covering up child sex crimes. I should know – when our under age child was victim of sex crimes committed by a gang in Auckland, the NZ judiciary gagged our whole family in order to cover up. http://bit.ly/ourNZexperience

    1. Dez

      Now having read Daves personal mind blowing account of the way NZ establishment treatment of his daughters situation and the years of how his family were treated one has to wonder what the real reasons were for actually choosing this NZ woman to take charge of this UK inquiry. Just why was she selected? Everyone I knew, when she was appointed, said it was a good move having someone from another country who will not be tarnished by the establishment having any association with sexual offences against young children especially her words “We don’t have such a thing in my country.”!!!. Having read Daves personal account of just how corrupt and incompetent the NZ establishment really is and how far they will go legally to cover their own failings just begs the question that is exactly why NZ was chosen. They sound far worse than the UK Social Services and the still continuing unfair secret courts and unjust decisions…… The UK was promised root and branch reforms of its child secret courts and ending out of control Social Services with their corrupt and incompetent decisions. As usual diddly squat has happened because the UK establishment like the situation as it is ………..the mind boggles as I can see the UK heading the same way as the NZ establishment. Our media is so gagged with only the worst cases making the story lines but even those cases do nothing to change anything. My total respect to Dave and his family ….. this really was a David and Goliath situation and a sad, but fascinating, must read story. I am not ashamed to admit I wept with frustration and anger whilst reading this story as it bought back painful memories of such matters in the way UK establishment works however no one ever finds out unless there is a death or gross misconduct that may make the medias attention .

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