THE third person to chair an inquiry into child sexual abuse in public and private institutions has quit.
Dame Lowell Goddard wrote to Home Secretary Amber Rudd yesterday (August 4) to resign as the head of The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) which was set up in July 2014.
Justice Goddard, a New Zealand high court judge, had been at the helm for 16 months and was appointed after two previous chairwomen quit.
She citied leaving behind her “beloved family” and relinquishing her career as part of the reasons for stepping down and said the inquiry had a “legacy of failure” that was hard to shake off.
Justice Goddard added: “With hindsight it would have been better to have started completely afresh.”
Her resignation came 24 hours after being criticised in reports for taking three months’ holiday since her appointment.
Ms Rudd described the inquiry as “the most ambitious public inquiry ever established in England and Wales” and said she wanted to reassure victims and survivors “that the Government’s commitment to this inquiry is undiminished”.
Ms Rudd added in her statement she was “determined to keep the process on track” and was taking steps to appoint a new chairperson as soon as possible.
The inquiry – which is examining claims made against local authorities, religious organisations, the armed forces, public and private institutions and people in the public eye – is expected to take five years to complete
The inquiry head is assisted by a panel of advisers including Professor Alexis Jay, author of the inquiry into the Rotherham abuse scandal.
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion, who is also shadow minister for preventing abuse, said the resignation was "disappointing" because many child abuse survivors had put their trust in Justice Goddard’s inquiry to get them justice.
Ms Champion added: “The Government now needs to swiftly get a new chair so that the work can continue.”
Ms Champion gave her backing online to Professor Jay taking on the role.