Yvette Cooper blasts Dame Lowell Goddard for 'disgraceful' refusal to give evidence about child abuse inquiry

Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Yvette Cooper MP. Credit: PA

Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Yvette Cooper MP has called Dame Lowell Goddard's refusal to give oral evidence about her resignation from the national sexual abuse inquiry "disgraceful."

Dame Lowell, 67, wrote in a letter which appeared in the media this morning, that she had volunteered detailed written reports instead of oral testimony in a bid to "maintain judicial independence."

Dame Lowell also wrote: “I am disappointed that there has been no government defence of me in England, despite the fact that information refuting some of the more serious allegations has been held by the Home Office and your committee since the time of my initial recruitment.”

Former chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Lowell Goddard Credit: PA

Responding to the letter, Ms Cooper said this was unsatisfactory and an "astonishing response" from a public servant. She told ITV News that it was "irresponsible" and added that child abuse survivors "have been let down by the extremely rocky start to this inquiry."

"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," Ms Cooper said.

"Yet rather than give oral evidence to answer these questions she is relying on the fact that she is out of the UK to avoid the requirement to give evidence to Parliament."

Dame Lowell resigned as chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in August, saying there was an "inherent problem in the sheer scale and size" of the probe.

She also said the inquiry had been beset by a "legacy of failure".

Hers was only one of a string of resignations, including that of the most senior lawyer to the inquiry, Ben Emmerson QC, in September. Dame Lowell was the third chair to resign.