Before we were flooded by news of the sensational Presidential election victory of Donald Trump, Dame Lowell Goddard. the third chair of the troubled inquiry into child sexual abuse inquiry delivered a stunning blow to Parliament.
She refused point blank to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee in Parliament and also announced that she would refuse to give any further interviews to the media on why she resigned.
It is no wonder that the new chair of the inquiry, Labour MP Yvette Cooper issued such a strong statement objecting to her refusal.
Dame Lowell had written :
“As a High Court judge in New Zealand for many years before I resigned to take up the chair, I have a duty to maintain judicial independence,” she wrote.
“That is why I have volunteered detailed written reports (in preference to oral communication) so that no dispute on powers or damage to IICSA’s independence could arise.
“I am not aware of any matter which remains unanswered. Meanwhile I have been the subject of malicious defamatory attacks in some UK media.
“I am disappointed that there has been no government defence of me in England, despite the fact that information refuting some of the more serious allegations has been held by the Home Office and your committee since the time of my initial recruitment.”
She got a stiff reply
” Dame Lowell Goddard’s refusal to give evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee about her resignation from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is disgraceful,” Ms Cooper said.
“Dame Goddard has been paid significant amounts of public money to do an extremely important job which she suddenly resigned from, leaving a series of questions about what has been happening over the last 18 months and why the Inquiry got into difficulties.
“This is an astonishing response from a paid public servant who should know how important transparency is in an inquiry as sensitive and crucial as this one.
“Child abuse survivors have been let down by the extremely rocky start to this inquiry and we do need answers as to why it went wrong in order to be confident it is back on track now.”
I quite agree. She was given a very generous package running into hundreds of thousands of pounds to chair this inquiry . Her annual salary was £360,000. Her accommodation costs amounted to £119,000. Relocation costs were just short of £30,000 as well some £67,000 spent on travel, including trips for her whole family to and from New Zealand.
Yet she doesn’t have the slightest compunction to refuse to explain what went so horribly wrong. She was offered to give evidence by video link from new Zealand but declined because she said Parliamentary privilege would not cover the video link.
Frankly her refusal is an affront to the survivors, the general public, the taxpayer who met her bills and to Parliamentary sovereignty.
If she had been a British judge living in the UK she could have been ordered to attend. As it is she better not apply for a tourist visa to come here or she might find herself having to attend Parliament. I find her attitude arrogant particularly as she never properly explained her reasons for going.