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Judge told to explain to MPs why she quit child abuse inquiry

By Arj Singh

Published 06/08/2016

Dame Lowell Goddard
Dame Lowell Goddard

The chairwoman who has quit the troubled inquiry into child sex abuse has been asked to explain herself to MPs.

Dame Lowell Goddard is the third person to resign as head of the wide-ranging inquiry, which was set up amid claims of an Establishment cover-up following allegations a paedophile ring operated in Westminster in the 1980s.

Her shock move has been met with anger and disappointment by abuse victims, and Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said her departure was "extremely disappointing".

Mr Vaz told Sky News: "She is someone with impeccable credentials, so this is a big shock that she chooses to resign now.

"I think what's really important is that we find out the reasons why she has decided to take this course of action.

"I've written to her today to ask her to come before the committee when we return at the end of August and share with us her thoughts about the setting up of this inquiry and why she resigned, and where she thinks we could go.

"Because although we've had ministers and Parliament and others involved, she of course has been intimately concerned with establishing this very difficult inquiry, so what she has to say is extremely pertinent, and I don't really think a resignation letter or a statement is enough.

"So I've asked her whether she would be prepared to do this to help us in determining what is going to happen in the future."

Dame Lowell was appointed in April 2015 and had spent more than 70 days working abroad or on holiday during her time in charge.

An inquiry spokesman said the 67-year-old had spent 44 days in New Zealand and Australia on inquiry business and was entitled to 30 days' annual leave.

Dame Lowell did not give full reasons for leaving but said accepting the job had been "an incredibly difficult step to take, as it meant relinquishing my career in New Zealand and leaving behind my beloved family". She also spoke of its "legacy of failure which has been very hard to shake off".

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the inquiry would "continue without delay" and a new chairman would be found.

Concerns have been raised that the Government will struggle to find someone of the right calibre and experience to take on the role, but Mr Vaz is confident a replacement will be found.

He said it is a "tough job" but "there are six billion people on the planet, I'm sure we can find someone else".

The inquiry, which has launched 13 investigations including strongly-denied claims linked to Lord Greville Janner, has been described as the most ambitious public inquiry ever established in England and Wales.

It is estimated to take five years but many say it is likely to last a decade, while others warn costs could spiral.

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