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Allegations of sexual assault and rape committed by Lord Janner, who died in December, were to have been examined by the inquiry under the chairmanship of Dame Lowell Goddard.
But just hours before her dramatic resignation last Thursday, Janner’s family wrote to the inquiry informing it of their legal bid to have allegations against him dropped from it.
The family is convinced the move added to pressure building on Dame Lowell, already struggling with the inquiry’s huge scope, to quit.
One of the inquiry panel’s members, Ivor Frank, told abuse survivors at a meeting on Friday that there had been “tensions and challenges” under Dame Lowell’s chairmanship.
More than 30 alleged victims of Janner, the former Labour peer, want to testify against him as part of a wider inquiry into claims his alleged crimes were covered up by the police and Labour party.
But public hearings into Janner due to begin next month were postponed by Dame Lowell, in preliminary hearings last month, until March at the earliest.
It is a manifestly unfair procedure. It is difficult enough that he is dead.Daniel Janner
Her resignation from a job worth £500,000 a year in pay and perks will now cause concern to alleged victims that further delays to the Janner hearings will give the family time to mount a judicial review.
Daniel Janner QC sent an email informing the inquiry of his plan to take Dame Lowell to court at just after 1pm on Thursday. Her sudden resignation was announced a few hours later.
Mr Janner told The Telegraph: “We are considering a judicial review to get my father’s strand of the inquiry removed.”
Mr Janner said his legal team believed there were a number of grounds to have him excluded, including the refusal of the inquiry to allow witnesses accusing Lord Janner of abuse to be cross-examined by the family’s lawyers.
“It is a manifestly unfair procedure,” said Mr Janner, adding: “It is difficult enough that he is dead.”
The family also accuse Dame Lowell of wrongly picking out their father for investigation since the inquiry’s remit is to examine institutional treatment of abuse, while they also point out Lord Janner was never convicted of any offence.
They also argue that civil claims against his estate by alleged victims should proceed before the inquiry hears any public evidence.
“My plea to the inquiry is for the new chairman to remove my father as a separate named strand of the inquiry. This has become a legal Titanic without a captain,” said Mr Janner.
Family members have produced a dossier of evidence, which they say bolsters their claims of Lord Janner’s innocence. They say one of his most vocal alleged victims made previous, false claims of sexual abuse against a female care home worker.
The Crown Prosecution Service has said that prior to his death there had been three missed opportunities to charge Lord Janner. The missed chances will be the focus of the Lord Janner strand of the inquiry.
The Home Office has ruled out appointing an interim chair. Abuse survivors are keen for Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, to appoint Professor Alexis Jay to the role. Prof Jay already sits on the panel and led the investigation into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham. READ IN FULL Source
A Home Office spokesman did not deny that could be the case. “It is reasonable that we allow Dame Lowell time to make alternative living arrangements and until then we will carry on paying her London accommodation,” said the spokesman, adding: “I cannot give you any categorical denial” that she would not receive a pay-off.
Dame Lowell stepped down as inquiry chair in the wake of criticism of her pay deal and the amount of time spent abroad during her first year in charge.
The Home Office said it was urgently seeking her replacement but Lord Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, said the role was now so toxic that it was “not so much a poisoned chalice but a lethal injection”.
Lord Macdonald added: “As for finding someone to take this on, this is going to be extraordinarily difficult.
“I can think of many people who would be qualified. I can’t think of many, if any, who would be prepared to take it.”
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said he planned to call Dame Lowell to give evidence to MPs.
Mr Vaz said: “I think what’s really important is that we find out the reasons why she has decided to take this course of action.
“I’ve written to her today to ask her to come before the committee when we return at the end of August and share with us her thoughts about the setting up of this inquiry and why she resigned, and where she thinks we could go.”
Peter Saunders, who sits on the inquiry’s Victims and Survivors’ Consultative Panel, described Dame Lowell’s departure as a “blessing in disguise”.
Mr Saunders, a child sex abuse campaigner, said: “This will give us the impetus to get going. We have been frustrated by the slow pace of the inquiry.”
Some lawyers have predicted the inquiry, under Dame Lowell’s stewardship, could take at least 10 years.
The government should reconsider the scope and remit of the huge public inquiry into institutional child abuse in the UK in the wake of the resignation of its third chair in little over two years, victims’ representatives and experts have argued.
Dame Lowell Goddard, the New Zealand judge who was appointed in February last year to chair the unprecedented inquiry into decades of child abuse and its cover-up, announced her resignation on Thursday evening, saying the inquiry was beset with a “legacy of failure”.
Following a brief resignation letter to the home secretary, Amber Rudd, Goddard released a statement that indicated that the controversies and challenges of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, set up in 2014, were insurmountable.
The home secretary, Amber Rudd.
Rudd said she was sorry to receive Goddard’s letter and accepted her decision but emphasised that the government’s commitment to the inquiry was undiminished.
Sue Berelowitz, the former deputy children’s commissioner, called for a review into the inquiry, which was established by Theresa May when she was home secretary.
“There should be a review of where it has got to and how it is doing,” Berelowitz said. “It seems to me the inquiry has lost its way. The real importance of learning lessons about institutional failings in the past is to stop children being abused today.
“I think there needs to be some reform of the inquiry. I don’t think it was right for it to have been set up as a quasi court for hearing individual cases. In a sense the inquiry has got too specific.”
Berelowitz, who as deputy children’s commissioner investigated child sexual exploitation, said she would be willing to undertake the review if asked.
Graham Wilmer, who established the Lantern Project, which helps victims of sexual abuse, and was a member of the abuse inquiry panel under its second chair, Dame Fiona Woolf, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the existing structure was “far too complicated”.
Tom Watson, the Labour deputy leader who has campaigned on child abuse issues, said Goddard’s departure, following the resignations of the two initial inquiry chairs amid criticism of their establishment links, posed “a very big challenge” for Rudd.
“First of all she needs to reassure people that she’s still committed to this inquiry, that it will be far-reaching, it will be properly resourced, and have the powers it needs to get to the truth,” Watson told Today. “I hope she will be able to explain precisely why Lowell Goddard is gone, I think that’s important, but also provide reassurance and a remedy to this very shortly.”
Lucy Duckworth, who sits on the inquiry’s victims and survivors’ consultative panel, insisted the process would continue despite Goddard’s departure.
“It’s not called the Goddard inquiry; it’s the independent inquiry. There are many staff there that are working extremely hard to lay down the infrastructure, which they have done as a foundation,” she told Today. “We need to make sure that, going forward, survivors that are encouraged to come and share their story with the inquiry are well supported and that is what is taking the time.”
Duckworth said she was “frustrated by the situation” but did not want to unduly blame Goddard, who “came over to England from the other side of the world and she worked very hard, she was incredibly professional”.
Phil Johnson, who has spent 20 years campaigning for justice for survivors and is acting chair of Macsas (Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors), said his initial reaction to Goddard quitting was “complete shock, and I felt a bit betrayed”.
He added: “I’m seriously concerned about the future of the inquiry. Goddard was its third chair. In the public eye, the credibility of the inquiry is in tatters – so much public money is being spent, and it seems to be achieving so little.”
“Michael”, who was allegedly repeatedly raped by a Church of England vicar in the 1980s and has accused the church of a cover-up, said: “When I saw the news, I thought: ‘Here we go again’ – this is grind to a halt time.” Survivors like him were left with no confidence in the processes, he added.
But David Greenwood, a solicitor who has specialised in child sexual abuse cases for 20 years, said he had confidence in the inquiry. “My first reaction was that [Goddard’s resignation] was a shame – I thought she was committed to the task. But the whole inquiry and its job is bigger than just one person,” he said.
“There are dozens of really committed staff members and lawyers working at the inquiry. So I have complete confidence that it will continue and result in really strong evidence-based recommendations at the end of it.”
Greenwood rejected “paranoia from some quarters” that the inquiry itself was “some sort of establishment organisation. It really isn’t – its focus is to get to the truth of the whole thing.”
Leon Brittan. The former home secretary was among the politicians alleged to have been part of a VIP paedophile ring.
Others questioned the home secretary’s assurance that the inquiry would continue with a new chair without delay.
Jim Gamble, former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), said: “How can this go on without delay? This should be a chance to pause and reflect on the health of the whole inquiry. To simply push on for the sake of it makes no sense without the independent leadership that this inquiry requires.”
Responding to Goddard’s resignation on Thursday, Rudd said she was determined to keep the process on track.
Goddard quit 24 hours after being criticised in reports for taking three months’ holiday since being appointed in April 2015. But her statement suggested there were deeper reasons for resigning, which date back to the inquiry’s inception, and its troubled beginnings.
Goddard, who was on a remuneration package that included a salary of £360,000, said: “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.”
Goddard had recently started sitting on the preliminary hearings into 13 public investigations into non-recent child abuse including within the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, Westminster, Lambeth council and Medomsley detention centre, and allegations against Greville Janner and Cyril Smith.
But a year after the inquiry was set up no evidence has been taken, and an unprecedented project known as the Truth project, to catalogue thousands of individual testimonies of abuse, has only just begun.
The first chair, Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, stood down in July 2014 amid questions over the role played by her late brother, Michael Havers, who was attorney general in the 1980s. Her successor, Woolf, resigned following criticism over her “establishment links”, most notably in relation to Leon Brittan, the former home secretary who died in 2015.
May, the then home secretary, redrew the inquiry under Goddard in March 2015, responding to demands from victims’ groups that it be placed on a statutory footing, which meant it had the power to compel witnesses to give evidence.
Goddard’s departure is a critical blow for those victims who believed that, after decades in which abuse was covered up, they would finally get to the truth of what had taken place. It came after criticism that many victims were being excluded from a key role in the hearings and a report in the Times that said Goddard – whose inquiry has been given a budget of £17.9m in the first year – had taken three months’ holiday since being appointed in April of last year.
The paper said Goddard had worked for 44 days in New Zealand, her home country, and Australia after taking up the role in April last year. The Guardian
Dame Lowell Goddard has resigned as the head of the UK’s independent inquiry into child sexual abuse, the home secretary has announced.
The New Zealand high court judge was appointed to lead the inquiry in 2015 after the resignation of two previous chairwomen.
The probe was set up in March of that year to examine claims made against public and private institutions.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said a new chair would be appointed.
The reasons for Justice Goddard’s resignation are unclear but BBC home affairs correspondent Tom Symonds described it as a “crisis” for the inquiry.
Ms Rudd said in a statement: “I want to assure everyone with an interest in the inquiry, particularly victims and survivors, that the work of the inquiry will continue without delay…
“I would like to thank Dame Lowell Goddard for the contribution she has made in setting up the inquiry so that it may continue to go about its vital work.”
The inquiry is to investigate allegations made against local authorities, religious organisations, the armed forces and public and private institutions, as well as people in the public eye.
Dates for the full public hearings are yet to be finalised.
But preliminary hearings began in March at the Royal Courts of Justice in London. BBCNEWS
Dame Lowell Goddard has resigned as Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, the Home Secretary has confirmed.
It comes amid reports she spent three months on holiday or abroad in her first year in the £500,000 job.
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, reassured victims of abuse that “the work of the inquiry will continue without delay and a new chair will be appointed”.
Dame Goddard, a New Zealand judge, was appointed after two previous chairwomen.
The inquiry was established in 2014 to look at claims of a cover up by the establishment after allegations a paedophile ring operated in Westminster in the 1980s.
It has yet to hear any evidence from witnesses.
Dame Goddard spent 44 days in Australia and New Zealand in the inquiry’s first year – but a spokesperson told the Times she was on “inquiry business” and learning from a similar Australian abuse inquiry.
On top of this, the judge also gets 30 days annual leave.
Her annual salary is £360,000, she gets £110,000 to rent a flat and £12,000 for utility bills.
The Government also pays for four return flights to New Zealand for Dame Goddard and her husband. SOURCE
- Britain’s troubled sex abuse inquiry claims Kiwi scalp thenewdaily
- Judge Lowell Goddard quits as head of UK inquiry into child sex abuse
- Child sex abuse inquiry: Dame Lowell Goddard becomes third chairwoman to quit
- Child sex abuse inquiry head Dame Lowell Goddard ‘spent 70 days working abroad or on holiday in a year’ Telegraph 02.08.16
The future of the independent inquiry into child sex abuse was thrown into doubt last night after Dame Lowell Goddard became the third chairman to resign.
Abuse victims said the inquiry had “descended into farce” and said they felt “betrayed” by her shock resignation. The inquiry,which they had complained was already beset by delays, is now in danger of collapse.
The 67-year-old, who is a high court judge in New Zealand, had faced criticism over the scale of her pay and benefits and also the amount of time she has spent abroad since taking on the role in April last year.
Under her generous package she had become one of Britain’s highest paid public servants with a £360,000 salary, a £110,000 accommodation allowance and regular free return flights to New Zealand for her and her family.
Since taking on the role she had spent more than 70 days overseas, either on holiday or working abroad.
She also admitted in a preliminary hearing last week that she did not have a clear understanding of aspects of English law.
In a brief statement, Dame Lowell failed to give a reason for her shock decision simply saying she was resigning with “immediate effect”.
The inquiry has already been beset by delays and the Daily Telegraph recently highlighted concerns that it could take as long as a decade to conclude with the overall cost running into hundreds of millions of pounds.
In recent days a spokesman for the inquiry had refused to respond to repeated questions about whether Dame Lowell’s paid for flights would be First or Business Class.
Despite the shock announcement, Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, insisted the inquiry would continue and a new chairman would be appointed.
She said: “I can confirm that Dame Lowell Goddard wrote to me today to offer her resignation as chair of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse and I have accepted.
“I want to assure everyone with an interest in the inquiry, particularly victims and survivors, that the work of the inquiry will continue without delay and a new chair will be appointed.
“I would like to thank Dame Lowell Goddard for the contribution she has made in setting up the inquiry so that it may continue to go about its vital work.”
The inquiry was set up in 2014 amid claims of an establishment cover-up following allegations that a paedophile ring operated in Westminster in the 1980s.
But within weeks of being announced the inquiry looked to be in doubt when two previous chairman stood down over criticism of their links to the establishment.
Baroness Butler-Sloss, who was the first nominee resigned within days after reports were raised over her handling of an earlier inquiry into abuse in the Church of England.
She was replaced by Fiona Woolf, the former Lord Mayor of the City of London, but she stepped down after it emerged that she had links with Lord Brittan, the former Home Secretary, who had faced a number of allegations of child abuse and who was likely to come under the inquiry’s scrutiny.
Phil Johnson, spokesman for the Minister & Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors group, said: “This latest resignation is deeply disappointing and worrying and I fear for the future of the whole inquiry at this moment.
“The inquiry is already massively behind schedule.
“I am very surprised she has resigned. I don’t know what the reasons are but I can’t imagine it’s the criticism in The Telegraph and the Times. It must go deeper than that.
“I am shocked and deeply concerned about the future of the inquiry. She was the third chair. This means pressing the reset button again and I don’t know what the public appetite is for that. It is in danger of looking like a farce. We do need an inquiry to get to the truth and this does not help.”
My clients will feel very let down by somebody in a position of authority in whom they had invested their trust
Last night, Peter Garsden, a lawyer who represents a number of alleged victims of Lord Janner at the inquiry, said his clients would feel betrayed by Dame Justice Goddard’s resignation.
Mr Garsden said: “This is a disaster. This will set everything back. My clients will feel very let down by somebody in a position of authority in whom they had invested their trust.
“I am sure they will see this resignation as a betrayal of trust whether that is true or not. I am sure there are other factors behind this that have influenced her decision that we don’t know about. They now have to find a new chairman very, very quickly.
“While I sensed at the Janner hearings a nervousness on her part, I am very very surprised that she has resigned after a little bit of criticism in the media. I can only assume there are external factors we know nothing about.”