The independent inquiry into child sexual abuse has lost its chair, after Dame Lowell Goddard gave Home Secretary Amber Rudd her resignation.
The resignation of the New Zealand judge, who was appointed after two previous chairs had to resign, throws the inquiry into “crisis”, one correspondent said.
The inquiry was set up in 2014 to investigate child sexual abuse, including claims a paedophile ring operated in Westminster in the 1980s.
Earlier on Thursday, she was criticised for having spent 44 days working in New Zealand and Australia - in addition to 30 days of annual leave she was entitled to - in her first year as inquiry chair.
The inquiry has been beset by delays since it was announced.
The BBC’s Tom Symonds said the resignation threw the inquiry into “crisis”.
Despite the revelations about the amount of time Goddard spent abroad, investigate journalist Mark Watts said she had threatened to resign before over “interference” from the Home Office in the inquiry.
The inquiry has not yet held any public hearings, though preliminary hearings began in March.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “I can confirm that Dame Lowell Goddard wrote to me today to offer her resignation as chair of the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse and I have accepted.
“I want to assure everyone with an interest in the inquiry, particularly victims and survivors, that the work of the inquiry will continue without delay and a new chair will be appointed.
“I would like to thank Dame Lowell Goddard for the contribution she has made in setting up the inquiry so that it may continue to go about its vital work.”
In her 32-word letter of resignation, Goddard did not specify the reason for her resignation.
Goddard had written to Rudd: “I regret to advise that I am offering you my resignation as chair of the Independent Inquiry into Institutional child abuse with immediate effect. I trust you will accept this decision.”
In her response, Rudd wrote: “I know that this will have been a difficult decision for you to make, and something you will have carefully considered. I was sorry to receive your letter but I accept your decision.”
Rudd added: “I know how personally committed you have been to ensuring that the inquiry is a success for those at its heart: the survivors and the victims.
“You have consistently demonstrated your desire to leave no stone unturned in order that the voices of those victims might be heard.
“It is a testament to your commitment that you have taken the difficult decision to stand down now, having set the inquiry firmly on course, and allow someone else to lead it through to the end. With regret, I agree that this the right decision.”