Today the Home Affairs Committee heard oral evidence from the Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP, Home Secretary, and Mark Sedwill, Permanent Secretary, Home Office regarding the work of the Home Secretary. Dame Lowell Goddard who had been invited to attend did not and sent a memo (reported on yesterday) specifying her reasons for her resignation.
In relation to the IICSA, the focus was on the following factors:
1) Dame Lowell Goddard’s resignation – why had she resigned?
The Home Secretary referred to Dame Goddard’s statement to the Committee provided earlier in the week, the strengths/weaknesses she highlighted and where Dame Goddard felt she could not deliver. Beyond this the Home Secretary was unable to provide more information, as like the Committee she only had the contents of Dame Goddard’s statement to comment on. The Committee urged the Home Secretary to encourage Dame Goddard to give evidence to the Committee and said they could facilitate video link evidence given her return to New Zealand.
2) What would the pay package be for Professor Jay?
Negotiations continue and the Home Secretary agreed to provide the Committee with further information in writing but confirmed Professor Jay’s remuneration would be less than Dame Goddard’s.
3) Who is responsible for the Inquiry and its delivery?
The Chair is responsible. The Home Secretary confirmed her office was in control of drafting the Terms of Reference (TOR), appointing the Chair/Panel and assessing the budget, but the rest falls to the Chair as the Inquiry once set up is a unit itself. She said she is encouraged by Professor Jay’s focus – ‘pace, clarity and confidence’.
4) Is the work of the IICSA endless?
The Home Secretary noted it is a substantial Inquiry with a major remit and it was not for her to put a time frame on its completion.
5) Is the remit of the IICSA too wide?
The Home Secretary confirmed this issue had been discussed and it was agreed that the TOR as originally set up remained correct and there are no plans to change or revaluate them. She did not agree with Dame Goddard’s suggestion that the IICSA should be narrowed to focus on the present and future rather than the past.
6) Who has authority to appoint of staff and are there potential conflicts of interest?
The Chair has authority to appoint staff as she sees fit. The Home Secretary disagreed with Dame Goddard’s statement that she was handicapped to do so. The Home Secretary urged the Committee to put any concerns re conflicts of interests to the new Chair. Chukka Umanna MP suggested there may be some conflicts as many personnel at the IICSA are also Home Office officials.