News story

Home Secretary announces judge to lead statutory inquiry into historical child sexual abuse

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Home Secretary Theresa May today announced that she plans to appoint Justice Lowell Goddard to lead the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

Justice Goddard, a judge of the High Court of New Zealand, has accepted the post and will appear at a pre-appointment hearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee on 11 February.

The Home Secretary also announced today (Wednesday 4 February) the Inquiry will be placed on a statutory footing under the 2005 Inquiries Act, with the power to compel witnesses to give evidence.

The current panel will be disbanded and replaced by a new panel selected against a set of criteria which will be published in the House of Commons Library and on

The Inquiry will consider whether, and the extent to which, public bodies and other important institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse.

It will seek to address public concern over failings exposed by appalling cases of organised and persistent child sexual abuse.

A highly respected member of the judiciary, Justice Goddard conducted an inquiry into the police handling of child abuse in New Zealand when she was chairman of the country’s Independent Police Complaints Association.

Home Secretary Theresa May said:

I am pleased to announce I have approached Justice Lowell Goddard to lead the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

She is an outstanding candidate with experience in challenging authority in this field, having led with distinction an inquiry into police handling of child abuse cases in New Zealand.

I am grateful for the input of survivors and their representatives who have been involved in discussions regarding my appointment, as well as the previous Panel for all its work which will not be lost.

We must leave no stone unturned if we are to take this once in a generation opportunity to get to the truth.

Justice Goddard said:

I am honoured to be asked to lead this crucial Inquiry – and am well aware of the scale of the undertaking. The Inquiry will be long, challenging and complex.

The many, many survivors of child sexual abuse, committed over decades, deserve a robust and thorough investigation of the appalling crimes perpetrated upon them. It is vitally important that their voices are now being heard.

I am committed to leading a robust and independent inquiry that will act on these matters without fear or favour and will hold those responsible to account.

The outcome of the Inquiry must ensure that the children of today and of the future will not only be protected from such dreadful exploitation but also empowered to combat it.

For more information read Justice Goddard Biog (PDF, 51.6KB, 1 page)