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UK probe's 'legacy of failure': Goddard

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/08/2016 Helen William, Press Association

New Zealand judge Dame Lowell Goddard has abruptly resigned as head of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse in the United Kingdom, saying she should have started with a clean slate.

Dame Lowell, 67, was appointed in February 2015 to lead the inquiry following the resignation of two previous chairwomen.

Her resignation letter, which was posted to the home secretary 's website, contained just two lines.

"I regret to advise that I am offering you my resignation as Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, with immediate effect. I trust you will accept this decision," Dame Lowell wrote.

She also released a statement which said it was a difficult decision to take on the role and leave her family in New Zealand.

The inquiry had a "legacy of failure" which had been hard to shake off, she said.

"With hindsight it would have been better to have started completely afresh."

However, she was confident there had been achievements and very real gains for victims in getting their voices heard.

In her reply to Dame Lowell's resignation letter, Home Secretary Amber Rudd acknowledged it would have been a difficult decision to make but it was the right one.

She thanked Dame Lowell for her work and commitment to the role.

"You have consistently demonstrated your desire to leave no stone unturned in order that the voices of the victims might be heard.

"It is a testament to your commitment that you have taken the difficult decision to stand down now, having set the inquiry firmly on course, and allow someone else to lead it through to the end.

"With regret, I agree this is the right decision."

A new chair will be appointed. The inquiry was set up in 2014 amid claims of an establishment cover-up following allegations that a pedophile ring operated in Westminster in the 1980s.

Dame Lowell's role has hit the headlines in the last few days when British media revealed she spent more 70 days of her first year in the job either outside the UK or on holiday.

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