The top lawyer was accused of attacking a woman in a lift
A Matrix Chambers inquiry into one of its leading lawyers, Ben Emmerson QC, has concluded “without hesitation” he had not committed any act of sexual assault or sexual harassment.
The top barrister had been accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a lift — an allegation he “categorically denied”.
At the time of the alleged attack, Emmerson — who is believed to be the inspiration behind Bridget Jones’ on-off lover Mark Darcy — was the head lawyer at the Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. At the end of September, however, he was shockingly suspended. This was reportedly because the inquiry had “become very concerned about aspects of [his] leadership of the counsel team”.
Less than a month later came the sexual assault claims, with BBC Newsnight revealing it:
[H]as 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.
At the time, a lawyer for Emmerson told the BBC:
Mr Emmerson categorically denies any allegation of sexual assault, or bullying or other misconduct at the inquiry.
Now, a spokesperson for Matrix Chambers, one of the top human rights and public law sets in the country, has revealed its involvement in the saga. A spokesperson has today said that, following the sexual assault claims:
[T]he Management Committee of Matrix instructed a former Director of Public Prosecutions and retired High Court judge, Sir David Calvert-Smith, to investigate those allegations and to report to the Management Committee.
In his confidential investigation report, Calvert-Smith concluded “without hesitation” that Emmerson had not committed any act of sexual assault or sexual harrassment. The statement continues:
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.
In response, Emmerson has reportedly said:
This has been a difficult period and I am naturally very pleased that an independent senior judge has now confirmed that the allegations against me were always unfounded. I hope that the inquiry can now be left to get on with its important work, free from unnecessary distractions.
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