UK Politics

Dame Lowell Goddard won't appear before Home Affairs Committee

Lowell Goddard Image copyright AFP/Getty

The former head of the inquiry into child sexual abuse has said she will not appear before MPs to answer questions about her time in charge.

Dame Lowell Goddard said for her to be summoned would compromise the inquiry's "independence and integrity".

She also hit out at "malicious, defamatory attacks" by the British media and said she was disappointed the government had not defended her.

Dame Lowell resigned in August, becoming the third chairwoman to quit.

The inquiry was set up in 2014 to look at the way public bodies investigated and handled child sex abuse claims.

But it has been beset by controversy and is now on its fourth chairwoman, Professor Alexis Jay.

The Home Affairs Select Committee wanted to question Dame Lowell over claims by senior members of her staff that she was "challenging" to work with and that a mediator had to be called in to communicate with her.

But in a letter to the committee, she said there were no "unanswered" questions about her 18 months at the helm.

She said lawyers had advised her not to appear as it could mean allegations against her were repeated under the protection of Parliamentary privilege.

Labour MP and Home Affairs Committee chairwoman Yvette Cooper said her refusal to appear was "disgraceful".

She added: "Dame Goddard has been paid significant amounts of public money to do an extremely important job which she suddenly resigned from, leaving a series of questions about what has been happening over the last 18 months and why the inquiry got into difficulties."

Downing Street said the inquiry was independent and said it was a matter for the committee.

"Who appears at the committee is a matter for them," said the prime minister's spokesman.