The chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee has attacked retired New Zealand high court judge Dame Lowell Goddard QC for refusing to give oral evidence on the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse (IICSA).
In a letter dated 7 November, Goddard turned on the Home Office for not doing more to protect her during her tenure heading the public inquiry. ‘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,’ she said.
Goddard further announced she would refuse to return to the UK to give oral evidence before the Home Affairs Select Committee in the letter to Labour MP Yvette Cooper.
The former head of the inquiry has instructed London media boutique Carter-Ruck following reports in The Times over her handling of the investigation in response to what she called ‘malicious defamatory attacks’ in the UK press.
As well as instructing Carter-Ruck, with a team led by partner Guy Martin, Goddard is being advised in New Zealand by Harbour Chambers duo Hugh Rennie QC and former New Zealand Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer QC.
In a statement today (8 November), Cooper responded: ‘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.’
Cooper added Goddard had been paid ‘significant amounts of public money to do an extremely important job which she suddenly resigned from’ and suggested the retired high court judge was looking to ‘avoid’ questions.
The inquiry also recently saw the departure of its lead counsel Ben Emmerson QC of Matrix Chambers. Emmerson instructed human rights firm Bindmans following his suspension.
Lawyers involved instructed in IICSA have told Legal Business there are serious doubts about the scope and scale of the inquiry, with the new chair Professor Alexis Jay estimating the investigation would last until at least 2020.
One QC involved in the inquiry said: ‘You could better spend the money. If it is going to cost £200m then we could do a yearlong inquiry into how child sex abuse is investigated now, not in the last 50 years.’