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Kiwi judge slammed by UK MPs in report

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 24/11/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">Dame Lowell Goddard, the former NZ head of the UK's inquiry into child sexual abuse, will be summoned to appear before MPs if she ever returns the the UK.</span> © Getty Dame Lowell Goddard, the former NZ head of the UK's inquiry into child sexual abuse, will be summoned to appear before MPs if she ever returns the the UK. The New Zealand former head of the United Kingdom's inquiry into child sexual abuse has again been slammed by UK MPs and warned she'll be hauled in front of them if she ever steps foot in the country again.

Dame Lowell Goddard has been criticised for refusing to appear before a committee of MPs looking into the work of the troubled inquiry despite receiving almost STG500,000 ($NZ840,500)-a-year in pay and allowances while she was its chair.

She resigned abruptly in August after just 18 months.

The Commons Home Affairs Committee report said Dame Lowell's failure to appear in front of it was "disgraceful".

"We regard this refusal as falling well below the standards we would expect of any public servant," it said in the report.

"Should Dame Lowell travel to the UK in the future, we would invoke parliamentary procedures to seek to summon her to give oral evidence."

Earlier this month the high court judge said she had never declined to provide oral evidence to the committee but said she was not aware of any unanswered questions relating to her time at the head of the inquiry.

She had provided written submissions to the committee.

As a judge she had a duty to maintain judicial independence, which was why she had written detailed reports so the inquiry's independence could not be damaged.

But the chair of the committee, Labour MP Yvette Cooper, said: "It is shameful that the former chair won't give oral evidence about what happened under her leadership."

The inquiry has been beset by problems since it was set up in 2014 and is now onto its fourth chair and in its latest setback one of the largest victims' groups involved withdrew from the probe, branding it an "unpalatable circus".

The report said allegations of bullying and sexual assault at the headquarters of the inquiry have not been taken seriously enough and warned its problems may impact on its ability to deliver on its objectives.

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