Sex abuse inquiry could be extended

Published: Saturday 14th February 2015 by The News Editor

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The inquiry into child sex abuse could be extended to examine alleged crimes committed since 1945, according to the New Zealand judge chairing the process.

Justice Lowell Goddard suggested the investigation could even go back further – saying fixed cut-off points tended to be “artificial”.

Home Secretary Theresa May recruited the judge after two other senior figures had to step down over their establishment links.

It had been thought that the probe would focus on allegations of illegal activity after 1970.

But Justice Goddard told the Mail on Sunday the period was “elastic”.

“The terms of reference talk about going back to 1970 but there is a push from certain quarters to take it back to about 1945,” she said. “A cut-­off point is always a bit artificial – someone who falls on the wrong side of it is aggrieved.”

According to the newspaper, Mrs May supports the judge’s position and is ready to remove all time limits.

But Justice Goddard plans to issue a series of interim reports to avoid a repeat of the controversy over the Chil­cot Inquiry into the Iraq War, which has been held up for six years.

The 66-year-old said she “wouldn’t shrink” from summoning prominent people to give evidence. “I don’t feel intimi­dated,” she said. “Nobody should be beyond the reach of the law.”

She added: “Sexual abuse of little children has never been anything short of a seri­ous crime and that does not alter through religious or cultural mores or a different era or time.

“If criminal offending is evident it will be handed to police. There are people who need to be given a voice about what has happened to them.”

Published: Saturday 14th February 2015 by The News Editor

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