Justice Lowell Goddard: Profile

Lowell Goddard Image copyright Home Office
Image caption Justice Goddard became the first woman of Maori descent to be appointed as a New Zealand High Court judge in 1995

New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard, who has resigned as the head of the independent inquiry into historical child sex abuse in England and Wales, was not the first person to be appointed as its head.

She was the third chairwoman of the inquiry since it was set up last July, before resigning on 4 August in a letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

She is a serving judge of the High Court of New Zealand and UN committee member who has experience of working with victims of sexual assault.

In 2007, she was appointed chairwoman of New Zealand's Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) - the first woman to hold the position - and was in post when the authority released a report on the outcome of its inquiry into police handling of child abuse cases.

Born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1948, Justice Goddard studied law at the University of Auckland, and started practicing as a barrister in 1977.

In her earlier years as a barrister she worked as a member of the steering committee which helped establish the HELP Clinic, a facility for victims of sexual abuse.

In that role, she assisted police to establish a better approach to the examination and interviewing of sex abuse victims.

'Highly respected'

Justice Lowell Goddard was made Queen's Counsel in 1988 - one of the first two women to be appointed to the role - and deputy solicitor-general for New Zealand in 1992.

She became the first woman of Maori descent to be appointed as a High Court judge in 1995, and has also sat as a member of the criminal division of the country's Court of Appeal.

The BBC's home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw ‏said it is understood the then home secretary - now the prime minister - Theresa May personally interviewed Dame Lowell by video-link before deciding to appoint her as chairwoman of the inquiry into historical child sex abuse in England and Wales.

The 66-year-old was described by the UK's Home Office as a "highly respected member of the judiciary who has been at the forefront of criminal law and procedure".

Her appointment was also welcomed by Ben Emmerson QC, counsel to the inquiry, who described her as "one of the most respected and experienced judges in the Commonwealth".


In June 2014, Justice Goddard was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to law.

In 2008, she said she brought her "own perspective" to the role of IPCA chairwoman, which focussed on "impartiality" and "absolute fairness".

"In every case, a fair, rational and reasonable finding about allegations of misconduct will be made, based on the facts and in accordance with the law," she said.

Justice Goddard said the "real value" of the organisation's independence is "the reassurance that it brings, of impartial and robust scrutiny of police actions in the public interest".

Through her IPCA role, she was elected as an independent expert to the United Nations subcommittee on the prevention of torture, a human rights body with international oversight of places of custody and detention.

Justice Goddard has also worked as a participant in a youth advocacy pilot for children and young people, and as a member of a children-in-care review panel for New Zealand's Department of Social Welfare.

She is married to Christopher John Hodson QC and has three step-children and one daughter from her first marriage.

She describes her interests as gardening, her family and grandchildren, and equestrian sport. She also breeds and races horses.

Mrs May's first choice as inquiry chairwoman, Baroness Butler-Sloss, resigned after a week following calls to quit because her late brother, Sir Michael Havers, was attorney general in the 1980s.

Her replacement, Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf, stood down on 31 October amid concerns over her links to former Home Secretary Lord Brittan.

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