The New Zealand judge heading the UK's historical child abuse inquiry has shocked barristers by admitting that she is confused by English law.

Dame Justice Goddard is set to earn around £5million (NZ$9.17m) as chairwoman of the inquiry after being appointed by Theresa May.

The case could run for a decade - and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds, it emerged earlier this week.

The probe is receiving up to 100 fresh allegations every week - a quarter of them referred to the police.


The largest inquiry in British legal history had already been earmarked to last around five years.

But a lawyer for some of the alleged victims yesterday said it could now take 'at least ten years'.

It sparked fury from campaigners and raised fears the probe could become 'another Chilcot', the Iraq war inquiry that took six years to complete - longer than British troops were in the country.

Some lawyer have expressed their concerns about the delays and Dame Justice Goddard's handling of the inquiry.

During the preliminary hearings last week, she admitted she was 'unsure of local law', when police attempted to block details of an investigation going public, according to The Times.

The independent child abuse inquiry has already spent almost £18million of public money and has yet to publicly question a single witness or victim.

Lawyers can receive up to £200 (NZ$366) an hour from public funds - while Dame Justice Goddard, is being paid £360,000 a year.

On top of that she will be given £110,000 annual rental allowance, £40,000 for flights home for her and her husband and £12,000 on yearly utility bills, according to The Telegraph.


At a hearing this week, she announced that a key investigation - into claims of abuse by the Labour peer Lord Janner - would be postponed by at least six months. It is one of 13 cases launched by the inquiry team examining alleged institutional cover-up, with other areas under scrutiny including the Catholic and Anglican churches and abuse in children's homes in London.

Ben Emmerson QC, counsel to the inquiry, described how swamped his team was. He said they were 'receiving 80 to 100 allegations a week' and that '20 to 25' of these were being referred to the police.

That means forces potentially face a deluge of 1,000 new investigations a year generated by the inquiry. There are already concerns that officers are having to devote too many resources to historical sex abuse claims. Peter Garsden, a partner with the law firm Simpson Millar - which is representing 16 alleged victims of Janner among others - said the inquiry risked being overwhelmed.

He said: 'This could take at least ten years. There is so much material to go through.' The barrister said his clients welcomed the scope of the inquiry but were concerned it would drag on too long, 'reawakening memories of abuse'.

The inquiry - set up in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal to examine the way public bodies handled child sex abuse claims - has spent £17.9million on staff, instructing a battery of lawyers and setting up a string of regional offices, but is yet to hear a single word of evidence.

Barristers can receive up to £200 an hour representing alleged victims, while solicitors can get £150 - paid for out of inquiry funds.

Dame Justice Goddard, who made her opening statement more than a year ago, receives £360,000 a year salary and a further £110,000 a year in 'rental allowance'. If proceedings take five years, the 68-year-old will receive more than £2.4million of public money.