The focus of the official inquiry into child sexual abuse will not be narrowed to exclude historical cases, the home secretary has made clear, as she also suggested that its former chair, Dame Lowell Goddard, may have quit because she was lonely.
Amber Rudd rejected claims by Goddard, who quit as chair last month, that the inquiry was too ambitious in scale and underfunded for the task it had been set.
The home secretary suggested that Goddard, a New Zealand high court judge and the third chair of the inquiry to depart, had resigned because it was too much for her and because she was lonely.
I think she went … because she found it too much for her, and although she could contribute to it and there was some good work done in the past year, ultimately she found it too lonely, Rudd said. She was a long way from home and she decided to step down.
Rudd confirmed to the Commons home affairs select committee that the child sexual abuse inquiry had repaid the Home Office £2.5m of its budget last year because of underspending, and suggested that Goddard had misrepresented the funding issue.
Goddard declined to appear before MPs to explain her sudden resignation and instead sent a 10-page critique in which she claimed the inquiry was facing an unmanageable and impossible task. She suggested its terms of reference should be refocused to concentrate on present child sexual abuse and the lessons for the future.
But the home secretary said she could see no inherent problem with the scale and scope of the inquiry, which includes examining child sexual abuse cases going back up to 60 years. Rudd insisted that it was important to understand past cases, however long ago, in order to get it right for the future.
Rudd agreed that she would renew the request for Goddard to give evidence to the committee by video link from New Zealand when she discusses with her the final details of the high court judge’s final package.
The interim committee chairman, Tim Loughton, said there had been suggestions that Goddard should refund some of the £500,000-a-year pay and expenses package that had been agreed when she was appointed by the previous home secretary, Theresa May.
Rudd told MPs that she had met survivors’ groups before announcing the new chairman, Prof Alexis Jay, one the inquiry’s panel members, and said they largely supported her appointment.
News Source TheGuardianNews