Appointment of the Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse - Home Affairs Contents

2  The candidate

19. The criteria used for selecting the new Chair and Justice Goddard's CV are at Appendices 1 and 2. During the evidence session we questioned Justice Goddard about, in particular:

a)  real or perceived conflicts of interest in relation to her past experience and her other current commitments, and how she would deal with any conflicts in the future;

b)  the relationship between the Inquiry and the Home Office, and between the Inquiry and this Committee;

c)   how she would demonstrate her authority and independence and how she would restore public confidence in the inquiry; and

d)  her relevant expertise.

20. Justice Goddard has a high degree of professional competence. Based on the information available to us, we are pleased to endorse the appointment of Justice Lowell Goddard to the post of Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse.

21. We note that Justice Goddard had not previously been asked to write an open letter detailing her interests in time for it to be presented to this Committee; we believe that this should happen as soon as possible. We reserve the right to recall Justice Goddard, once we have received the relevant correspondence, should it disclose any new information which might give cause for concern.

22. We also make the following recommendations concerning the future management of the Inquiry:

a)  Members of the Inquiry Panel should be chosen primarily for their specialist expertise and experience in areas that are likely to be covered by the investigation, as well as in providing support for survivors, and in providing redress for victims.

b)  We can see the logic of Justice Goddard's comment that survivors did not need to be represented on the Panel, but only provided that a parallel Survivors' Forum is established on a formal basis, with strong links to the Inquiry Panel. Its remit, status and relationship with the Panel should be clear from the outset and it should be properly funded to provide the necessary support to its members.

c)  We were encouraged by Justice Goddard's undertaking that no survivor who did not want to do so would be required to give evidence in public. The Panel should do everything within its power to ensure that survivors are able to give their best evidence, including the use of the "special measures" that are used in court to help vulnerable and intimidated witnesses and, where necessary, taking evidence in private.

d)  The Home Office should re-examine the arrangements for providing funding to support survivors' participation to ensure that smaller organisations are able to access those resources.

e)  The Panel should give consideration to employing its own specialist staff to provide support to survivors giving evidence.

f)  The Panel should have access to all relevant Government material, including all the material discovered by the Wanless and Whittam review, and the Permanent Secretary of the Home Office should conduct a new search to establish that no relevant documents have been overlooked.

g)  Careful thought needs to be given to the composition of the secretariat, in which Home Office secondees currently appear to be very well represented. Members of the secretariat should be chosen for their skills and the Panel should look well beyond the Home Office and the civil service if that is necessary to produce the right skill mix.

h)  The Chair of the Inquiry should fully consult the Chairs of the Northern Ireland Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse and the Scottish national public inquiry into historical abuse of children in institutional care, with particular regard to seeking to avoid gaps between the areas covered by the various inquiries.

i)  The Chair should consult the Director of Public Prosecutions to ensure that all avenues for bringing successful prosecutions against abusers are kept open.

j)  The Panel should produce periodic interim reports as frequently as it sees fit but should aim to produce its first interim report as soon as possible.

k)  The Panel should look to the examples of Hillsborough and Leveson as well-run, focused, and victim-centred inquiries.

Future of the inquiry

23. Although the original Panel got off to something of a false start, it is important that the material from the Panel's work, especially its listening meetings with survivors, is considered by the new statutory inquiry, providing it with a base to build on. Some continuity in the Panel membership, as well as the secretariat, would help to ensure that the work of the last seven months has an impact on the outcome of the inquiry. It will nonetheless be important for Justice Goddard to meet survivors herself, to discuss how the inquiry should proceed, within the framework of the 2005 Act.


24. It is crucial that the Chair will play a full role in the selection of Panel members, that it should be clear with whom the final decision lies, and that the selection process should be fully transparent from the outset.

25. We note with approval the 2014 recommendation from the House of Lords Select Committee on the Inquiries Act 2005, that the Act should be amended to include a provision specifying that the chairman, and only the chairman, may appoint the counsel to the inquiry.[14] We are pleased that Justice Goddard will have a free hand over the appointment of the Inquiry Counsel and Secretariat, as she acknowledged when she gave evidence to us. She must be permitted to shape the Inquiry team as she thinks appropriate.


26. The terms of reference for the original Panel confined the scope of its inquiry to England and Wales, with an undertaking that any relevant material would be passed to the devolved administrations. Several people have suggested to us that the scope of the inquiry should be extended to include the whole of the United Kingdom, and in particular the abuse which took place at the Kincora Boys' Home in Belfast in the 1970s. Child protection is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland, and the Northern Ireland Executive has established its own Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry, which began work at the beginning of 2014. However, that Inquiry's powers of compulsion do not extend to the UK Government, which calls into doubt whether it will be able to deal effectively with allegations of the possible involvement of UK Government agencies in the abuse. Justice Goddard told us, quite understandably, that she was not familiar with the details of the Kincora case and had not yet given any thought to its inclusion in her Inquiry.

27. In September 2014, the Northern Ireland Assembly resolved, without a vote,

    That this Assembly notes with deep concern the allegations of sexual abuse that took place in Kincora Boys' Home during the 1970s and 1980s; further notes allegations that senior politicians, military personnel, paramilitary figures and businessmen from Northern Ireland and Great Britain were involved in the commissioning and subsequent cover-up of the abuse, as well as allegations that members of the intelligence service were complicit in a cover-up of this scandal; believes that the nature and seriousness of the allegations, especially that MI5 was involved in a cover-up, means that this cannot be adequately considered in any way other than a Westminster Government-led inquiry; and urges the Home Secretary to include Kincora Boys' Home in the inquiry by Fiona Woolf as the most appropriate means of achieving truth and justice.[15]

We recommend that the scope of the inquiry be extended to include cases of abuse in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where there is reason to believe that material relevant to the case might be held by the UK Government. This would include cases such as the Kincora Boys' Home.

28. A further concern has been the cut-off date of 1970 in the original terms of reference. Survivors have pointed out that many of them suffered childhood abuse before this date, and the arbitrary cut-off will prevent the inquiry from considering their experiences. We welcome the Home Secretary's announcement that she is open to giving the Panel a much earlier cut-off date than 1970, which will give a reasonable prospect of the experience of most living survivors falling within the scope of the inquiry.

29. It is clear from the scale and scope of the task concerned that the inquiry will take several years. However, the opportunity to take any further action which the inquiry might find to be necessary to address any failings it might identify should not be delayed unnecessary. We recommend that the Panel draw up terms of reference which will allow it to complete its work within a reasonable time frame, producing interim reports where necessary to ensure that key recommendations can be implemented without unnecessary delay.

14   HL Paper 143 (2013-14), p. 69 Back

15   Official Report of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Volume 97, No 8 (Tuesday 30 September 2014), p. 41 Back

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Prepared 13 February 2015