Racist remarks claims ‘false’, says Dame Lowell Goddard
26 minutes ago
- From the section UK
the child sexual abuse inquiry has strenuously denied a newspaper report
of allegations of misconduct and racism made against her.
Dame Lowell Goddard is alleged to have said Britain had so many paedophiles “because it has so many Asian men”, according to a report in the Times.
The senior New Zealand judge has hit back at the claims, calling them “false” and “malicious”.
The Home Office said it had received no formal complaint about Dame Lowell.
She resigned as head of the inquiry on 4 August, after 18 months in the role.
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.
Times also reported allegations that Dame Lowell had expressed shock at
the size of the UK’s ethnic minority population and mentioned having to
travel 50 miles from London to see a white face.
The paper said senior Home Office staff and advisers knew about the alleged derogatory comments and other complaints.
Lowell said: “I confirm my absolute rejection of this attack. I am
confident that in New Zealand my known reputation from my work over many
years will provide its own refutation of these falsities.”
detailed statement issued later, she added: “The specific allegations of
racially derogatory remarks are totally false. I categorically never
said that ‘Britain has so many paedophiles because it has so many Asian
“I never expressed shock at the number of ethnic people in
Britain. I have never held the views and opinions attributed to me, nor
is the language in these allegations vocabulary which I either used or
would consider using.”
Dame Lowell said any suggestion that she
“threatened at any time ‘to take this inquiry down with me'” was
“totally untrue”. She also rejected claims of being rude and abusive to
Andrew Norfolk, chief investigative reporter at the
Times, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the sources for the story
were “several people who are at a senior level and have a detailed
awareness of what has been going on within the headquarters of that
“These people, over many months, were thinking ‘what can
we do about this? This judge is seriously impacting on the work of the
inquiry,'” he said.
“They forwarded those concerns to a place
they thought was a fit place for them, the Home Office, and Theresa May
had the power to terminate her contract. The frustration intensified as
nothing was done.”
The Home Office said it had been “made aware of
concerns about the professionalism and competence of Justice Goddard”
on 29 July, six days before she was to resign.
secretary advised the inquiry that as they were independent they should
raise this directly with the chair,” its statement said.
“It is understood that they did this. No formal complaint was made to the Home Office.”
‘Questions to answer’
shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said Mrs May and her former
department had “serious questions to answer” over “suggestions that Home
Office officials turned a blind eye to allegations of impropriety”.
“How can the victims expect this inquiry to uncover child abuse when it has faced multiple setbacks of its own?
“After years of waiting for justice, they deserve better. It is crucial that this inquiry gets on with its vital task.”
Labour MP for Streatham Chuka Umunna, some of whose
constituents are among the abuse victims, said concerns about the scale
of the inquiry could be addressed by giving it a “federal” structure,
with a national body overseeing the work of several smaller
“That’s the way to change the scale of the inquiry, but to change the scope would very much worry the survivors,” he said.
Saunders, a member of the Victims and Survivors’ Consultative Panel,
which forms part of the inquiry, said the accusations reported by the
Times were not behaviour he “recognised” with Dame Lowell and he worried
about the effect the claims would have.
“[The inquiry] has had
far too many setbacks, far too many people sniping at it,” he told
Today. “There are people out there listening to this programme who most
definitely want this inquiry to fail.
“It has evolved a lot in the last few weeks. It has turned a big corner and there is a determination.”
said: “I know for certain that the people who have been speaking to me
and my colleague only have an interest in ending the deep frustration of
people, men and women, who for years, for decades, have been waiting
for the institutions that turned a blind eye to their abuse to be held
“I think what really compounds all of this is the
sense that an inquiry set up to oppose a culture of secrecy and cover-up
has become itself an exemplar of the sins it was supposed to expose.”
Abuse inquiry: How we got here
7 July 2014 – government announces independent inquiry into the way public bodies investigated and handled child sex abuse claims. Baroness Butler-Sloss chosen as head
9 July – Baroness Butler-Sloss faces calls to quit because her late brother, Sir Michael Havers, was attorney general in the 1980s
14 July – she stands down, saying she is “not the right person” for the job
5 September – Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf named the new head of the inquiry
11 October – Mrs Woolf discloses she had five dinners with Lord Brittan from 2008-12
22 October – abuse victim launches legal challenge against Mrs Woolf leading the inquiry, amid growing calls for her resignation
31 October – victims’ groups tell government officials they are “unanimous” Mrs Woolf should quit. She steps down later that day
4 February 2015 – Justice Lowell Goddard, a serving judge of the High Court of New Zealand, announced as the new head of the inquiry
13 July – Dame Lowell’s pay is revealed as more than £480,000 a year
November – inquiry begins hearing directly from victims and survivors
4 August 2016 – Dame Lowell writes to Home Secretary Amber Rudd to resign from her post
14 October The Times reports accusations of racist remarks being made by Dame Lowell when in the job. She denies the claims.
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