High Court Justice Lowell Goddard

GODDARD, Lowell Patria

 High Court Justice Lowell Goddard


Professional Data:

2014 Judge Survey Score (1-10):  6.5     Ranking (out of 63):  63rd
High Court Justice Lowell Goddard

Postion & Titles: Dame, QC,  Former Deputy Solicitor General
Judge of: High Court, Wellington, since 1995  From June 2015 to July 2016, was on a £3 million Crown retainer as Chair of an Inquiry in the UK
Specializations and Professional Interests: Goddard J was the judge entrusted with making recommendations on behalf of Independent Police Complaints Authority  investigations to the Commissioner of Police until she returned to the High Court bench in 2012.
Professional Comments: Justice Goddard is a long-serving High Court judge with a deftly orchestrated public image and past Chair of the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA).  In early 2015 she took leave for a temporary assignment overseeing an inquiry into historic child sexual abuses in the United Kingdom.

The official line is Lowell Goddard oversaw significant change at the IPCA, as the Authority publicly portrayed itself as a transparent investigative and reviewing agency of serious complaints against the Police.   The reality is different.  Justice Goddard held up and concealed a number of serious complaints against police as IPCA judicial chairperson.  Many have never been made public.

An infamous example of a less serious complaint Goddard obfuscated before being forced to make public is police prevention of a peaceful human rights protest against a 1999 trip to New Zealand by the Chinese President.  Goddard’s report eventually agreed with the Internal Affairs finding that the police action was unjustified, yet her report was not issued until eight years later.

In its sixth periodic review of New Zealand, the United Nations Committee Against Torture leveled principle criticism at the IPCA under Goddard’s tenure, observing  “The Committee is concerned at the mandate of the Independent Police Conduct Authority which does not allow this institution to fully investigate and initiate prosecution of perpetrators. The Committee is also concerned that the law leaves to the police the power to initiate investigations on the police itself, raising questions about the independence of such investigations.”

Insiders concede the IPCA became a more opaque and political agency under Justice Goddard, with legal exemptions asserted to prevent disclosures of information under the Official Information Act and Privacy Act.  Much of the agency’s work is cloaked by tight secrecy, casting suspicion on its role as an objective oversight authority beyond the United Nations criticisms.

As a High Court Judge, Ms Goddard’s human and fair trial rights record has been sporadic and sometimes appalling.  In Howse v R New Zealand [2005] UKPC 31, the United Kingdom Privy Council leveled unprecedented and scathing criticism at Goddard, finding “It is impossible to imagine a clearer example of a trial that has gone off the rails” resulting in “an unfair trial”.  The perennially-restrained Law Lords added, “We could use more robust language to describe it but, with difficulty restrain ourselves from doing so.”  A November 2007 feature article on Goddard in Police News listed Goddard’s “minimum non-parole of 28 years” sentence of Howse as one of her career highlights.  More on Goddard’s jurist record below.

While deputy Solicitor General, Lowell Goddard refused to release evidence to the Police that former judge Michael Lance was guilty of perverting justice in a police prosecution of his son Simon’s business partner, claiming it was not in the public interest to allow the prosecution.  The police inspector at the time sought release of the file; a request which Goddard and John McGrath refused.  Judge Lance later became Goddard’s deputy judge at the IPCA – demonstrating a level of audacity which is rare, even by New Zealand standards.  Parliament’s Hansard recorded Goddard recommended Lance as “a sound appointment choice.”

Lance retired in disgrace shortly afterward when it was reported he was keying cars parked in front of his Takapuna apartment.  Lance was prosecuted in 2010 and acquitted in a judge alone trial by Judge Kevin Phillips.  British tourists who witnessed the offending and returned to give evidence were deemed untrustworthy by the trial Judge.

Justice Goddard is believed to be the first Maori woman to have served as a High Court Judge. She has also sat as a member of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal.

As a lawyer, Justice Goddard defended and prosecuted in a number of homicide and other serious criminal trials, and acted as counsel assisting tribunals and Commissions of Inquiry, including the Cartwright inquiry into allegations concerning the treatment of cervical cancer at National Women’s Hospital in New Zealand

In 2009, Justice Goddard gave a speech to the Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference.  An abstract of her speech is provided immediately below this profile.

Lawyers who appear before Justice Lowell Goddard generally have little regard for her as a judge who is willing to conform to law or to rule consistent with relevant facts.  They are far more impressed with her impeccable dress and makeup.

Justice Goddard scored dead last in the 2014 Survey of New Zealand judges, with many lawyers dismissing her competency and hypocritical stances in support of human rights.

Also in 2014, in Greer v Rimutaka Prison Manager (unrecorded), Goddard J issued a private administrative minute which refused a writ of habeas corpus without appearance and off the record.  The judicial action only came to light in a Supreme Court of New Zealand appeal judgment which referenced it (SC80/2015 [2015] NZSC 136).

In early 2015, Goddard was appointed to head a United Kingdom inquiry into child sexual abuses after two previous appointees resigned under pressure.  The Guardian cited Goddard’s experience with similar cases in New Zealand.  Perhaps more telling was Goddard’s response to the Guardian, “The inquiry will be long, challenging and complex.”  On 11 Feb 2015, British Home Affairs Committee members asked Goddard if she considered herself part of the “establishment”, Justice Goddard said: “We don’t have such a thing in my country.”, then “I did have to ask carefully exactly what is meant by it so that I did understand what I was being asked to disclose.”

Goddard quit her High Court judgeship to move to London for the Sexual Abuse Inquiry widely regarded to implicate some of the most powerful people within the British hierarchy.  In June 2015, Goddard negotiated a minimum compensation package from the British government of NZ$5 Million for her services (NZ$4.4 million salary and over $500,000 in further benefits for the first 4 years) leaving many of her peers in New Zealand who recalled her trading decisions for positive mentions or an honorarium only months earlier aghast.

In August 2016, Lowell Goddard abruptly resigned as Chair of the British sex abuse inquiry after it was revealed she spent 3 months of the first year in her role travelling abroad, failed to entertain any evidence and admitted the week before that she lacked comprehension of English Law.  In her part-handwritten and part-typewritten 31-word resignation, she incorrectly referred to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse she had headed for the past year as the “Independent Inquiry into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse”.  It was revealed her total pay package made her the highest paid public servant in Great Britain, receiving twice as much as the Prime Minister.

Did Goddard Lie to Parliament?

Lowell Goddard New Zealand’s Latest Export

Background / Education: Graduated LLB from the University of Auckland in 1974 and was admitted to the Bar in 1975. She commenced practice primarily as a defence barrister and later as a Crown prosecutor.In 1988, she was appointed Queen’s Counsel and in 1989 became Deputy Solicitor-General for New Zealand.  In that role she discharged the functions of Director of Public Prosecutions at a national level.
Degrees: LLB, Auckland, 1974
Admitted to the Bar: 1975
Company Involvements:

Personal Data

Born: 25/11/48
Auckland, New Zealand
Sex: Female
Married: Married 4 times.1969 -1971 British journalist Sir John Scott??1992 Christopher John Hodson QC. He has 3 children Andrew James Hodson b.1967 Daniel Paul Hodson b.1969 Victoria Children: 1 (1st Marriage produced 1 child Rebecca Scott b1970 )
Interesting Relationships and Coincidences:  Daughter of Squadron Leader Pat Vaughan Goddard.  In 2009, Justice Goddard’s former deputy (Judge Michael Lance) was criminally charged with willful vandalism in relation to “keying” of a man’s car in front of his residence.Fifteen years earlier – as Deputy Solicitor General – Lowell Goddard covered up misconduct by Judge Lance in a criminal trial he presided over where his son’s law associate was charged with extortion.  Lance acquitted the man and ordered permanent name suppression.



In 1998, the New Zealand Government established a permanent independent body, known as the Police Complaints Authority. This was largely in response to public criticism over Police handling of complaints about alleged brutality to citizens during demonstrations opposing the 1981 Springbok tour of New Zealand. The New Zealand Police Complaints Authority was created by statute and from the outset was headed by a Judge. Its role was to better provide for the investigation and resolution of complaints against Police and to make recommendations where necessary, including that consideration be given by the Commissioner of Police to the institution of disciplinary or criminal proceedings against any member of Police.

Since its inception the Authority has undergone a metamorphosis, from a purely reviewing oversight role to a more robust and independent investigative model. To achieve this objective it has undertaken an internal restructuring and its work approach has been reformed. Its focus is now increasingly on independently investigating the most serious incidents and allegations about Police and it deploys its own investigation teams for that purpose. In addition, it has received enhanced legislative powers and has been renamed the Independent Police Conduct Authority. Further investigative powers and prosecutorial powers are in draft legislation.

This altered focus, away from merely reviewing Police investigations into complaints, towards actively investigating, was in response to public dissatisfaction over the apparent ineffectiveness and lack of transparency of the Authority’s work, brought to a head by its inability to enquire into serious historical police misconduct that came to public attention around 2000.

The Authority currently has a number of high profile investigations underway and is increasingly reporting publicly on its findings and recommendations. It has received support from the New Zealand Government in the form of increased resourcing and there is increasing public confidence in the robustness and openness of its work.

An important and exciting new dimension to the Authority’s work is the contribution it has recently made to help build international capacity in independent oversight of policing. This contribution recognises the importance of assisting in an understanding of integrity in policing to ensure that human rights are protected, particularly in developing nations and in situations where civilian police forces can become an instrument of political oppression.