9 Nov 2016

Dame Lowell Goddard refuses to answer MPs' questions

7:53 am on 9 November 2016

The former New Zealand judge who headed a UK inquiry into child sexual abuse has said she will not appear before British MPs to answer questions about her time in charge.

Dame Lowell Goddard.

Dame Lowell Goddard Photo: AFP

Dame Lowell Goddard said for her to be summoned would compromise the inquiry's "independence and integrity".

She also hit out at "malicious, defamatory attacks" by the British media and said she was disappointed the government had not defended her.

Dame Lowell resigned from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in August, becoming the third chairwoman to quit.

The Home Affairs Select Committee wants to question her over claims by senior members of her staff that she was challenging to work with and that a mediator had to be called in to communicate with her.

But in a letter to the committee, she says lawyers have advised her not to appear, as allegations against her could be repeated under the protection of parliamentary privilege.

The Labour MP who chairs the committee, Yvette Cooper, said Dame Lowell's refusal to appear is disgraceful.

The inquiry was set up in 2014 to look at the way public bodies investigated and handled child sex abuse claims.

But it has been beset by controversy and is now on its fourth chairwoman, Professor Alexis Jay.

In her letter to the committee, Dame Lowell said there were no "unanswered" questions about her 18 months at the helm.

Downing Street said the inquiry was independent and said it was a matter for the committee.

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