Ex-child abuse inquiry lawyer cleared of groping colleague

By Martin Bentham
Evening Standard
December 14, 2016

The former chief lawyer at the independent inquiry into child sex abuse was today cleared of allegations of sexual misconduct after a probe conducted by a former High Court judge.

Sir David Calvert-Smith, who also served as Director of Public Prosecutions before moving onto the Bench, said he had concluded “without hestitation” that there was no truth in allegations that Ben Emmerson QC had committed sexual assault or harassment while working for the inquiry.

His finding follows allegations reported on the BBC’s Newsnight programme that Mr Emmerson – who resigned from the inquiry earlier this year after being suspended over concerns about his conduct -  had groped a female colleague in a lift.

Mr Emmerson strongly denied the allegations, but his chambers, Matrix, ordered an investigation to establish whether further action, including a referral to the Bar Standards Board, was needed.

Today, however, it announced that the investigation, carried out by Sir David, had cleared Mr Emmerson.

“Sir David concluded without hesitation that Mr Emmerson had not committed any act of sexual assault or sexual harassment,” Matrix said in a statement.

“The management committee has accepted Sir David’s findings and is satisfied that they demonstrate no case of professional misconduct to report to the Bar Standards Board.”

Mr Emmerson is the most high profile among several lawyers to have quit the troubled child sex abuse inquiry. 

The probe has also suffered the resignation of three chairwomen and continues to face criticism from victims’ groups about an alleged lack of independence.

Other critics that its remit is too broad and that the probe, which is due to run at least 2020, is excessively expensive and unwieldy and should be scrapped or slimmed down.


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