Britain's government has appointed a judge from New Zealand to lead a wide-ranging inquiry into alleged child sex abuse by powerful figures in British society.

Home Secretary Theresa May told lawmakers on Wednesday that New Zealand High Court judge Lowell Goddard will chair the inquiry aimed at finding out whether British public agencies — including the BBC, churches and political parties — had neglected or covered up allegations of child sex abuse from the 1970s to protect politicians and others in power.

Goddard is the third person appointed chief of the troubled inquiry since it was announced in July. May's two previous choices both quit over perceived conflicts of interest.