Thursday, 29 September 2016

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse - Counsel to the Inquiry

Updated 30th September:

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse - previous post - is in the news this morning.  It has emerged that Mr Ben Emmerson QC (Counsel to the Inquiry) has found out that he has been "suspended" from his duties to the inquiry.  The Inquiry has issued a statement dated 29th September in which it is said:

"The Inquiry has recently become very concerned about aspects of Mr Emmerson's leadership of the Counsel Team. He has therefore been suspended from duty so that these can be properly investigated.

Suggestions in the press that Mr Emmerson was considering resigning after raising disagreements over the future direction of the Inquiry are untrue. They are not a matter on which he has advised the Chair or Panel."

What those concerns are is not explained.  It would be wrong to speculate on this but the public interest demands a more detailed explanation of the Inquiry's decision.

Update 30th September:

Ben Emmerson QC resigned and his resignation letter has been published - HERE.   Emmerson refers to a review of the inquiry's ways of working and said that he had doubts in early September whether he was the right person to steer the review process.  The statement continues - "Since then, it has become clear to me that I am not the person to take this review forward on your behalf."  Emmerson concludes by saying that there is no truth in suggestions that he resigned due to a difference of opinion with the Inquiry Chair (Professor Alexis Jay).

The Inquiry issued a statement following Emmerson's resignation - HERE.  "Mr Emmerson has stepped down at this time because he considers that after two years at the helm it is now time for someone else to take the role forward and provide leadership for the counsel team. There is no truth in suggestions that he has resigned due to a difference of opinion with me about the next steps for the Inquiry. He will continue to be available to the Inquiry whilst his replacement is recruited and brought up to speed. I am pleased he continues to support the Inquiry's aims and objectives. He has made an enormous contribution to the Inquiry and we wish him well."

Interestingly, and unlike the Inquiry's statement of 29th September, there is no reference here to Emmerson having been suspended.  Regrettably, the observer is therefore left with the impression that the full truth has not been put into the public domain. 

The Telegraph 29th September tells us that Elizabeth Prochaska has also resigned from the Inquiry legal team - New child sex abuse inquiry as two lawyers announce their resignations in one day.   According to this report - The Prime Minister gave her full support to IICSA. Mrs May said: “We need to investigate, we need to learn the lessons of the past and if we don’t do that we can’t guarantee we are going to be able to stop such abuse from happening again in the future.  A Home Office spokesman said Ms Rudd still has full confidence in the inquiry, adding: “Ben Emmerson’s suspension is a matter for the independent inquiry."

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