Lowell Goddard

The Honourable
Dame Lowell Goddard
Justice of the High Court of New Zealand
Assumed office
December 1995
Chair of Independent Police Conduct Authority, New Zealand
In office
Preceded by Judge Ian Borrin
Succeeded by Judge Sir David Carruthers KNZM
Personal details
Born Lowell Patria Goddard
(1948-11-25) 25 November 1948
Auckland, New Zealand
Spouse(s) Sir John Scott, 5th Baronet (m. 1969; div. 1971)
Christopher Hodson QC (m. 1992)

Dame Lowell Patria Goddard, DNZM (born 25 November 1948) is a New Zealand judge. In 1988, she was one of the first two women to be appointed Queen's Counsel in New Zealand. She is thought to be the first person of Māori ancestry to become a High Court judge. Currently, she is the longest-serving New Zealand High Court judge still in office. In February 2015, she was appointed to head the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales. On 4 August 2016, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced that Goddard had resigned from the Inquiry; no explanation was given.[1]

Early life

Lowell Goddard was born in Auckland, New Zealand.[2][3] Of partly Maori ancestry, she affiliates to Ngāti Kahungunu.[4] Her father was Squadron Leader Pat Vaughan Goddard.[5] She was educated at Diocesan School for Girls, Auckland, and then studied law at the University of Auckland, graduating in 1974.[6]


Goddard was admitted to the bar in 1975, and started to practise as a barrister in 1977.[3] Her work included a period as a member of the committee which helped establish a facility for victims of sexual abuse, which assisted police to establish a better approach to the examination and interviewing of victims. She also took part in a youth advocacy pilot for children and young people, and was a member of a panel on New Zealand's policy regarding children in care.[3]

In 1988, she and Sian Elias were the two first women to be appointed Queen's Counsel in New Zealand.[7] She was Crown Counsel and Head of the Criminal Law Team at the Crown Law Office in Wellington from 1989 to 1995, and served as Deputy Solicitor-General of New Zealand from 1992 to 1995.[8]

In 1990, she was awarded the New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal, and in 1993 she received the New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal.[6]

She became a High Court judge in December 1995, based in Wellington, and is believed to be the first Maori person to have served as a High Court judge.[2] She is the longest-serving High Court judge in New Zealand still in office.[9] She has also sat as a member of the Criminal Division of the New Zealand Court of Appeal.[10]

She was the first woman to serve as chair of New Zealand's Independent Police Conduct Authority, from 2007 to 2012.[3] In that capacity she served as an expert to the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture. She was appointed a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in June 2014, for her work on human rights.[7]

In February 2015, she was appointed to head the statutory public inquiry to replace the Independent Panel Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales.[3][11] The British Home Secretary, Theresa May, described her as highly respected and an outstanding candidate with experience in challenging authority in this field. Goddard said she was honoured to lead the inquiry and was aware of the scale of the undertaking, saying that "the many, many survivors of child sexual abuse, committed over decades, deserve a robust and thorough investigation of the appalling crimes perpetrated upon them."[12]

In August 2016, she tendered her immediate resignation from the child abuse inquiry in a letter to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd, giving no explanation.[13] Two months later, she strenuously denied newspaper claims that her resignation was the result of allegations of misconduct and "racism" made against her.[14][15] In November 2016, Goddard announced that she would not be appearing before the UK parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee, citing legal advice; her decision was criticised by the committee's chairwoman, Yvette Cooper.[16]

Personal life

Goddard married John Scott (later Sir John Scott, 5th Baronet), a British journalist, in 1969. They had one daughter, born in 1970, before they divorced.[5]

She married Christopher Hodson QC in 1992.[2] He served in the Territorial Force (reserve) of the New Zealand Army, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1992.[17] He is Judge Advocate General of the New Zealand Armed Forces, and the Chief Judge of the Court Martial of New Zealand,[18] and also vice-president of the International Equestrian Federation.[19]


  1. Press Association (4 August 2016). "Dame Lowell Goddard resigns as head of child sexual abuse inquiry". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 August 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 "High Court Justice Lowell Goddard". kiwifirst. 4 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Profile: Justice Lowell Goddard". BBC. 4 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  4. Houlahan, Mike (10 February 2007). "One more giant step". NZ Herald. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  5. 1 2 "Person Page".
  6. 1 2 Taylor, Alister, ed. (2001). New Zealand Who's Who Aotearoa 2001. Auckland: Alister Taylor Publishers. ISSN 1172-9813.
  7. 1 2 "Judges honoured for human rights work". The Dominion Post. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  8. Biographical data form, OHCHR
  9. The Judges of the High Court, Court of New Zealand
  10. Justice Lowell Goddard, Independent Police Conduct Authority
  11. Home Secretary announces judge to lead statutory inquiry into historical child sexual abuse, 4 February 2015
  12. "New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard to lead abuse inquiry". 4 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  13. "Child sex abuse inquiry will continue 'without delay'". BBC News.
  14. "Racist remarks claims 'false', says Dame Lowell Goddard". BBC News. 14 October 2016.
  15. https://www.rt.com/uk/362757-goddard-sex-abuse-racist/
  16. "Dame Lowell Goddard won't appear before Home Affairs Committee". BBC News Online. 8 November 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  17. Appointment of Chris Hodson QC as Judge Advocate General, beehive.govt.nz, 30 September 2008
  18. Lawyer, former unionist on advisory panel, The New Zealand Herald, 24 October 2014
  19. Houlahan, Mike (10 February 2007). "One more giant step". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
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