Victims: UK child abuse inquiry must go on after chief quits

AP News
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Posted: Aug 05, 2016 10:03 AM
Victims: UK child abuse inquiry must go on after chief quits

LONDON (AP) — The British government must make sure an inquiry into decades of child sexual abuse is not derailed by the sudden resignation of its chief, abuse survivors and politicians said Friday.

Lowell Goddard, a judge from New Zealand, quit Thursday — the third chief that the troubled probe has lost since it was announced in 2014. Goddard was chosen to head the inquiry after two previous chairwomen were appointed, and then rejected because of their connections to Britain's establishment.

Lucy Duckworth, who sits on the inquiry's panel of victims and survivors, said Goddard's resignation was frustrating but the inquiry should go on. Labour lawmaker Tom Watson said new Home Secretary Amber Rudd "needs to reassure people that she's still committed to this inquiry."

Rudd said the inquiry would continue under a new chief.

The inquiry is an ambitious attempt to confront decades of abuse in Britain's schools, hospitals and other institutions. It was set up amid a public outcry following the 2011 death of entertainer Jimmy Savile, when dozens of people came forward to say that Savile had abused them over several decades. A posthumous police inquiry labeled Savile a "prolific, predatory sex offender."

Subsequent abuse revelations have implicated British entertainers, clergy, senior politicians and others. There have also been claims that police failed to investigate allegations of abuse for decades.

There have also been some allegations that the scope of the abuse inquiry — due to release its report in 2020 — is too broad.

Goddard did not give a reason for her resignation, but said "with hindsight, it would have been better to have started completely afresh" after the troubles with her two predecessors.

The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee said it would summon Goddard to explain why she was leaving. Committee chairman Keith Vaz said it was not acceptable for her to just "resign and leave."