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Leading counsel suspended in latest setback to child abuse inquiry

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) today (29 September) suspended Matrix Chambers’ Ben Emmerson QC from his role as leading lawyer of the public inquiry.

The IICSA stated it has ‘recently become very concerned about aspects of Mr Emmerson’s leadership of the counsel team’ and that the suspension is meant to facilitate an investigation into it.

The inquiry said press reports Emmerson (pictured) was considering resigning over disagreements regarding the direction of the inquiry under fourth chair Alexis Jay are untrue.

Emmerson has instructed human rights firm Bindmans following the suspension. In a statement the firm said: ‘Emmerson has read this evening on the internet that he has been suspended by IICSA.’

‘If and when any allegations are put to him he will respond appropriately. He has no further comment to make at this time.’

Emmerson’s suspension is the latest in a string of setbacks for the prominent public inquiry since it was announced by the Home Secretary in 2014, preceded by the resignation of its three previous chairs. The independent inquiry was set up to investigate historical child sexual abuse in England and Wales, and the failure of the authorities to protect victims.

He is also currently the British judge on the Residual Mechanism of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The solicitor to the inquiry is Martin Smith of Fieldfisher.