The future of the UK's independent inquiry into child sex abuse was thrown into doubt last night after Dame Lowell Goddard became the third chairman to resign.

Abuse victims said the inquiry had "descended into farce" and said they felt "betrayed" by her shock resignation. The inquiry, which they had complained was already beset by delays, is now in danger of collapse.

The Daily Telegraph recently highlighted concerns that it could take as long as a decade to conclude and the overall cost was running into hundreds of millions of dollars.

Home Secretary Theresa May announced the inquiry in 2014 to look into previously covered-up cases of child abuse in hospitals, care homes, churches and schools.


Here is a timeline to explain how the inquiry "descended into farce".

2012 - 2013

Savile shock

Police identify Jimmy Savile as a prolific child sexual abuser a year after his death. During the investigation into him, various media and political personalities, as well as many others are linked to child sexual abuse. Some are convicted and calls are made for a public inquiry.

July 2014

Inquiry launch

Following the Savile scandal, then Home Secretary Theresa May announces an independent inquiry into the way public bodies have investigated and handled child sex abuse claims. Baroness Butler-Sloss is chosen as head.

July 2014

First resignation

Retired judge Butler-Sloss quits less than a week after her appointment after a series of claims about her brother Michael Havers' role in previous investigations more than 30 years ago, when he was Attorney General.

October 2014

Second resignation

City lawyer and Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf, the second new head of the inquiry, steps down just weeks after her appointment. It emerges she had five dinners with former Home Secretary Lord Brittan from 2008-2012.

February 2015

Third time lucky

Senior New Zealand judge Justice Lowell Goddard becomes the new head of the inquiry. The inquiry is also given new powers as a statutory inquiry and the original panel is disbanded.

November 2015

Unprecedented scope

Justice Goddard announces that 12 separate investigations are to take place as part of the unprecedented inquiry, including investigations into MPs, local councils, and church organisations. In January 2016, a 13th investigation is launched into Lord Greville Janner.