Time for Dame Lowell Goddard to explain why she quit

lowell goddard

Dame Lowell Goddard giving evidence to House of Commons home affairs committee today. Pic credit: BBC

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

The shock decision of Dame Lowell Goddard to quit the child sex abuse inquiry has been compounded by her very terse statement on why she resigned. See here Dame_Lowell_Goddard_letter

Survivors have been suddenly let down  by someone who only two years ago committed herself to a five year comprehensive inquiry that would cover every aspect of child sex abuse from VIP paedophiles to institutions as varied as children’s homes, religious orders,  schools and colleges.
It already has a packed programme  including a controversial hearing of the facts surrounding the allegations against Lord Janner; the scandal in Rochdale around Sir Cyril Smith, Lambeth Council, the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England to name but a  few. It was also, I understand, to look at the Westminster paedophile ring and Operation Midland but not until 2018.

So her decision to leave at this crucial moment when the inquiry was starting to get into its stride is more perplexing. Her statement today in full  read :

“I announce with regret my decision to resign as Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, effective from today.

“When I was first approached through the British High Commissioner in Wellington in late 2014, and asked to consider taking up the role, I had to think long and hard about it. After carefully discussing the matter with the Home Secretary and her Officials and seeking the counsel of those people in New Zealand whose opinions mattered to me, I decided that I should undertake the role, given my relevant experience and track record in the area.  It was however an incredibly difficult step to take, as it meant relinquishing my career in New Zealand and leaving behind my beloved family.

“The conduct of any public inquiry is not an easy task, let alone one of the magnitude of this. Compounding the many difficulties was its legacy of failure which has been very hard to shake off and with hindsight it would have been better to have started completely afresh.

“While it has been a struggle in many respects I am confident there have been achievements and some very real gains for victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse in getting their voices heard. I have nothing but the greatest of respect for the victims and survivors and have particularly enjoyed working with the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel which I established.”

What I find particularly perplexing is her implication that she should never have been appointed to continue the inquiry in the first place. If suggests that she did not think things through.

The inquiry following the resignations of Baroness Butler Sloss and Fiona Woolf because of conflicts of interest had already been remodelled – changing it from an independent panel to a  statutory judicial inquiry. Its work  and costs have gone up enormously and Lowell Goddard, as The Times pointed out, has taken time off and obviously misses her family.

The volume of work must be enormous – I know from sitting on a much smaller independent panel myself which I cannot talk about – that historic inquiries generate masses of documents.

In the child abuse area  a chair also needs to have a tough skin and a focused mind – since he or she is entering a minefield of controversy – and will face a barrage of complaints from a small but vocal minority who don’t believe that most of the child abuse took place – and most survivors are liars or bounty hunters.

Remember there are websites  devoted to the idea  that Jimmy Savile was totally innocent and everything has been made up by disturbed people. After all as Dame Janet Smith found the BBC either didn’t know or couldn’t bring itself to believe that he was a paedophile.

Therefore it seems to me that if she thinks there is something wrong in the process she should say so and she owes  the public who paid her a lot of money to chair this inquiry a full and frank explanation.

Reports suggested to me that her decision to go was not sudden. She has been seen as a little distant from event ( and not just physically ). There have been suggestions that Home Officials have tried to capture the direction of an independent inquiry and other suggestions that Ben Emmerson, the counsel in charge of the inquiry, may have had too much power.

Whatever happened we need a full explanation. And action from the Home Office and Theresa May, the PM who originally set up the inquiry as home secretary to make sure investigations and hearings go ahead regardless.

As I am the only person made redundant from Exaro who has a personal website – I intend to continue reporting on child sex abuse issues here and on Byline.com. Those who wish to keep abreast of developments should follow this blog or keep an eye on  Byline.com.

 

 

 

 

 

22 thoughts on “Time for Dame Lowell Goddard to explain why she quit

  1. David,
    Like you I am surprised by her departure, but equally I do wonder precisely who is going to match the (rightly) standards of propriety required by relatives of the victims of this abuse. This woman was massively well rewarded but was being asked to abandon her NZ roots for five years to conduct an impossibly convoluted inquiry. It’s easy to shoot at these people, much harder to know how to find replacements. This makes me feel deeply uneasy. James

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  2. To be honest David, her departure doesn’t surprise me at all. Anyone filling this position may come up against allegations that people very high up in the elite establishment were indeed paedophiles. It’s a fair bet she has been “Leant on” to produce the results needed by those people, and as I have eluded to before on this topic, the light of day may never shine into the dark corners of the places these people hide. I will only be shocked if this inquiry does NOT turn into the next “Hillsborough” and we get any meaningful results inside 5 years. certainly nothing will be released before the next general election. 😦

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      • But Janner is being investigated. The IICSA is not the body to do this. Again leave it to the well put out IPCC and the 2 Chief Constables

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      • The reason why it should stay with IICSA (as well as be investigated by IPCC) is that a whole groupof institutions were involved in the failures and cover-up – not just the police, but CPS, Leicestershire council, Labour Party, etc.as well. The issue isn’t simply what Janner did (to the level of warranting prosecution at least) but who allowed him to do it and how to prevent anyone else from getting away with it in future.

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  3. Thanks for this piece, David, and for your welcome commitment to continue reporting the issue of child sexual abuse in British society after Exaro has folded.

    The media-managed release of Goddard standing down – conveniently post-Brexit, post-Cameron etc – has been timed so that it will be conveniently eclipsed by Olympics & Silly Season coverage.

    Some say the existing IICSA is too large – effectively being the umbrella for 13 concurrent inquiries.

    However the converse is true. Only when the Inquiry includes Kincora in Northern Ireland will we get a sense of just how many state institutions were complicit in covering up child sexual abuse for wider political goals.

    Facing up to these truths still has to be done.

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    • Mansfield has said he does not expect to be asked. Therefore, and while I acknowledge he does seem to be the popular choice with survivors, with all due respect, I can’t see the point of this petition.

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  4. She cannot explain why she decided to quit after her visit to Australia. I think the Australian Secret Service said that the UK Secret Service are not willing to have their operatives exposed. She therefore feels that she cannot go forward knowing that the reason the inquiry was set up cannot be investigated.

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  5. A point that a certain investigator omitted from her reworking of the Goddard Wikipedia article was that Goddard had been a member of the UN OHCHR Sub-Committee on Prevention of Torture, where she was a colleague of Ben Emmerson and Malcolm Evans.

    Emmerson was the principal relict of the original Home Office appointed team who survived through to the Goddard version of the inquiry. It seems improbable that Goddard would have accepted the Home Office offer without discussing the inquiry and the challenge it posed with Emmerson, and it seems unlikely that the Home Office would have approached Goddard without first obtaining Emmerson’s assessment of her capability to see the task through, particularly after the two previous disasters.

    Given that, it’s hard to credit that Goddard would have come to such a sudden realisation of her inability to cope with the challenge that she dashed off a two line resignation shorn of all the polite niceties that usually accompany a voluntary withdrawal. It’s unusual too that as Mark Smalley has noted the media seem all of a sudden to have come up with substantial criticisms of her attention to her work and her pay arrangements. Would it be too much of a conspiracy theeory to imagine that The Times and The Telegraph had their cards marked for them (with the Mail playing catch-up this time)?

    There was limited enthusiasm for Goddard but on the whole her appointment was accepted as being lless obviously flawed than that of her two predecessors and no-one wanted any further waste of time in getting the inquiry started. At the time of the Parliamentary announcement Theresa May and Sir Paul Beresford both seemed extremely pleased with themsleves that all probblems in the way of appointing Goddard had been sorted out. I think they need to tell us how they and Emmerson got such an important decision wrong at the third time of asking.

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    • Owen

      Interesting point you raise -particularly if her last position at the Un – where she would have met Emmerson – has been removed from Wikipedia.
      It seems to me highly likely that the home office might have briefed the papers ” off the record” to put their spin on the decision. I know for a fact that this happens when I was a national journalist.

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      • A misunderstanding, David. The UN Sub-Committee wasn’t removed from LG’s Wikipedia article, it was something that the famous blogger failed to mention in her triumphal revelation of facts about Goddard seemingly largely gleaned from Wikipedia and known to most followers of the inquiry’s progress more than a year ago. I wondered whether the omission of the Emmerson connection from the blog’s potted biography was intentional or an oversight.

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      • TheTelegraph and Times reports really whiffed of HO briefing. Sean O’Neill doesn’t seem quite so much of a journalist as he used to.

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  6. I believe she quit because of the cover up she knows about over Midland and the Martin Allen case. She cannot carry on knowing what she knows, and resigned from immediate effect, and she knew they would have to accept that. Indeed they were expecting it, and the cryptic letter from the Home Secretary is proof if you can read between the lines.

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    • I know the UN links with her and Goddard are well past Hayman but what about the links in-between the parties . Hayman at the FCO was the Superintending Under Secretary for the United Nations (Political) Department i.e. Peacekeeping, UN Charter, International Court of Justice etc. As a dedicated paedophile how did he have time for these heaviest Charles Street duties. With help. That where you should be looking: And Enouch begat Irad and so on.

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