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MPs to demand answers over abuse inquiry head's resignation

Permanent secretary Mark Sedwill will be questioned over Justice Goddard's resignation. Credit: PA

MPs will demand answers over the resignation of former child sexual abuse inquiry chair Dame Lowell Goddard from the Home Office's top civil servant.

Permanent secretary Mark Sedwill will be questioned at the Commons Home Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

Sedwill's appearance follows revelations that Dame Lowell resigned days after the Home Office was made aware of concerns about her "professionalism and competence".

Home Secretary Amber Rudd and her predecessor Theresa May have now been urged to reveal how much they knew.

Ms Rudd previously told the committee she believed the New Zealander, who denies allegations she used racist language, had quit because she was "homesick and lonely".

Dame Lowell Goddard resigned as chair of the national child sexual abuse inquiry. Credit: Peter Byrne / PA Wire

But on Friday night, the Home Office said it was made aware of worries about Dame Lowell's conduct on July 29, when Ms Rudd had taken over from Mrs May, who became Prime Minister on July 13.

Dame Lowell resigned on August 4.

Labour has called on Mrs May and Ms Rudd to provide assurances that there was no cover up.

These are grave allegations and the Home Secretary and Prime Minister must address them urgently.

Despite being given every reason not to trust the establishment, the victims of child sex abuse had put their faith in this inquiry. We cannot afford to lose their trust again.

We must be given an assurance that there was no attempt to cover the accusations made about Judge Goddard. Because if true, it would mean that the Home Secretary knowingly put at risk the integrity of the entire inquiry.

– Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott

Dame Lowell's replacement, Professor Alexis Jay, is expected to provide an update on the progress of an internal review of the inquiry's approach to its investigations on Monday.

Professor Jay is also due to appear before the Commons Home Affairs Committee on Tuesday.

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