Usually chatty legal Twitterati eerily silent
There is puzzlement this morning in legal London after BBC Newsnight claimed that Ben Emmerson QC, a highly-respected barrister and former leading lawyer at an independent child abuse inquiry, has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman in the lift of a London office.
Emmerson “categorically denies” the allegations. The inquiry denies it received any complaint of sexual assault.
The top lawyer, one of 35 QCs at human rights and public law set Matrix, was suspended from his post at the national abuse inquiry in September. This happened, it was reported at the time, because the inquiry had “become very concerned about aspects of [his] leadership of the counsel team”. Inquiry chairwoman Professor Alexis Jay continued:
He has therefore been suspended from duty so that these can be properly investigated.
Now, the BBC has claimed the Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has “dropped” its investigation into Emmerson’s conduct, “despite a disclosure of alleged sexual assault”. The report goes on:
BBC Newsnight has learned the inquiry was also aware that an inquiry worker had alleged Mr Emmerson had sexually assaulted her in a lift at the inquiry’s offices in Millbank in central London in early September. The woman had given an account of the incident on the same day, but did not want the incident to be investigated.
Lawyers’ reaction to this newest revelation has been, well, pretty non-existent.
At the time Emmerson — who is believed to be the inspiration behind Bridget Jones’ on-off lover Mark Darcy — was suspended, lawyers were out in force on Twitter sharing their dismay. Here are just some of the tweets made at the time:
Wow! Didn't see this coming.
"Child abuse inquiry counsel Ben Emmerson QC suspended" over "serious concerns".https://t.co/OsqkX7T7hm
— Shoaib M Khan (@ShoaibMKhan) September 28, 2016
Beyond farcical. Ben Emmerson apparently found out he had been suspended from IICSA on the internet tonight & has instructed Bindmans?! https://t.co/MOf4YGXsl1
— Joanne Cecil (@JoanneCecil) September 28, 2016
What in pity's name is going on in the Child Abuse Inquiry and Ben Emmerson?
— John Cooper (@John_Cooper_QC) September 29, 2016
Today, however, the usually noisy legal Twitter crowd seem to be, perhaps wisely, waiting for more information to become available before they express a view.
A lawyer for Emmerson told the BBC:
Mr Emmerson categorically denies any allegation of sexual assault, or bullying or other misconduct at the inquiry.
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