Goddard must explain resignation, say MPs

Child sex abuse inquiry: Dame Lowell Goddard must explain resignation, say MPs

  • 1 hour ago
  • From the section UK

 Dame Lowell Goddard

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Reuters

Image caption

Dame Lowell Goddard was the third head of the inquiry into child sex abuse to quit

MPs have asked the
former head of the child sex abuse inquiry to explain her departure amid
concerns the government was aware of misconduct claims.

Dame Lowell Goddard quit in August but denied a report on Friday alleging misconduct and racism against her.
The
most senior civil servant in the Home Office has also been asked to
explain to MPs what the government knew about her resignation.
Prime Minister Theresa May and the home secretary may also be asked to appear.
Asked if the inquiry was now an embarrassment, Mrs May told the BBC: “No, it’s very important.
“We have to remember about all the survivors and victims of child sexual abuse who deserve justice.”
The
Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is investigating the extent
to which institutions in England and Wales have failed to protect
children from sexual abuse.
Dame Lowell was appointed in February
2015 and became the third inquiry head to quit, resigning in August
after 18 months in the role.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the Home Affairs Select Committee at the time that she believed Dame Lowell left because she was homesick.

But on Friday, the Times reported that Dame Lowell had been
accused of making racist comments and being rude to junior staff, and
that senior Home Office staff and advisers knew about alleged comments
and other complaints.
The senior New Zealand judge hit back at the claims, and called them “false” and “malicious”.
The
Home Office later said it had been “made aware of concerns about the
professionalism and competence of Justice Goddard” on 29 July, six days
before she resigned and several weeks before the home secretary appeared
before the committee and made no mention of the concerns.

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AFP

Image caption

Chuka Umunna said Dame Lowell ‘owes it to the survivors and their families’ to answer MPs

The committee has asked Dame Lowell to appear either in person or by video link from her home in New Zealand.
Labour
MP Chuka Umunna, who is a member of the committee, said: “Not only
would this help with the smooth running of the inquiry going forward,
but I believe she owes it to the survivors and their families.”
Permanent secretary Mark Sedwill will be asked to appear in front of the committee, possibly as early as Tuesday.
MP
Tim Loughton, the committee’s acting chair, said Mr Sedwill would be
giving evidence “on the basis that he was sitting alongside the new home
secretary [Ms Rudd] when the committee questioned her about the Lowell
Goddard situation.”
Mr Loughton said the committee would also need
to “decide whether to call Theresa May, rather than Amber Rudd, as she
was home secretary when the whole thing came to a head about Lowell
Goddard”.

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AFP/Getty Images

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Diane Abbott said Mrs May and her former department had “serious questions to answer”

Diane Abbott MP, Labour’s shadow home secretary,
said they were “grave allegations” and demanded an assurance there had
been no attempt to cover up the accusations made about Dame Lowell.
“Because if true, it would mean that the home secretary knowingly put at risk the integrity of the entire inquiry,” she said.
Though
the child abuse inquiry is independent of the government, the Home
Office would have had the power to remove the judge from her post, but a
Home Office statement said it had received no formal complaint.
A
source on the committee said it did not have the power to compel Dame
Lowell to appear but suggested it could announce a formal censure if she
failed to give further evidence.
The committee is to question the new chair, Prof Alexis Jay, on Tuesday.

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