New Westminster sex abuse inquiry chair named by embattled home secretary

Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May (Reuters / Daniel Leal-Olivas)
A New Zealand Judge will take over as head of the historic child sex abuse inquiry, Home Secretary Theresa May has announced.

Justice Lowell Goddard, who May said was “highly respected” and fitted all the laid-out criteria, will take on the role, from which two previous chairs have resigned amid scandal.

Goddard is believed to be the first Maori woman to have served as a High Court Judge and has also sat as a member of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal. She is now also the first New Zealand woman to hold the position of Independent Police Conduct Authority.

The judge would be as “removed as possible” from institutions that may become part of the investigation, May emphasized.

The inquiry was set up to investigate allegations of a pedophile sex ring operating in Westminster during the 1980s and will investigate if “public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales.”

READ MORE:Child abuse victims suffer ‘death threats’ after minister published names online

May also said the original committee had been “dissolved” and that a new panel would be discussed with Ben Emmerson QC, legal advisor to the committee.

She also expressed a desire to stretch the scope of the investigation to earlier decades, rather than focusing exclusively on the 1980s.

The historic abuse inquiry has been plagued by misfortune after both of the previous chairs, Baroness Butler-Sloss and Fiona Woolf, stood down.

Butler-Sloss resigned from the post following allegations she had personal connections with those involved in the inquiry. Woolf, meanwhile, said abuse victims participating in the inquiry did not have confidence in her.

READ MORE:Secret dossier on historic child abuse potentially seen by Thatcher - intelligence expert

Survivors of sexual abuse and politicians have criticized the inquiry’s management.

Only last week, survivors of child abuse claimed they endured death threats after a Commons committee chairman published swaths of emails containing the names of victims online.

The victims in question, who campaigned for changes to Britain’s child abuse inquiry, condemned Keith Vaz’s decision to publish emails that identified them.

Vaz, who holds the position of chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC), uploaded the emails on to the Committee’s official website.

It was further suggested by a senior intelligence expert in January that a secret dossier containing documentation of “unnatural” sexual behavior in the 1980s could have been seen by then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.