Leading Abuse Lawyer Commends The Work Of Suspended Counsel Ben Emmerson

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The Law Of… following up on historic sexual abuse

Leading abuse lawyer Peter Garsden has commended the work of Ben Emmerson QC, who has been suspended from his post as Counsel for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
The Law Of… following up on historic sexual abuse

Representing a group action against the former Lord Janner, whose case is due to be heard by the IICSA, Peter explains how the inquiry's leading lawyer commanded the respect and trust of survivors.

Suspension From Abuse Inquiry

Coming just one month after the IICSA appointed a new Chair, the inquiry's leading lawyer, Ben Emmerson QC, has been suspended.

It is claimed that the inquiry had become concerned about aspects of the Counsel's leadership and how he was running his team of legal experts.

The BBC has reported that there has been more than one complaint against the inquiry's most senior lawyer.

Emmerson's suspension follows a raft of press rumours that he was planning on resigning, as it is alleged that he shared the opinion of former Chair Dame Goddard, who claimed that the scope of the inquiry was too large to uncover historic abuse.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd and new Chairwoman Professor Alexis Jay have dismissed claims that the inquiry's scope needs to be changed and have informed survivors that they will continue with the IICSA's original discourse.

Troubled Start

The inquiry has suffered a troubled start, with four Chairwomen attempting to lead the inquiry since its inception in 2014 by then Home Secretary Theresa May.

The first two Chairwomen left over allegations of their connection with the very establishment figures that the inquiry was designed to investigate.

Last month, Dame Goddard – the inquiry's longest serving Chair – resigned, claiming in a parting shot that the scope of the investigation was too large.

Since its inception, the IICSA has yet to hear a single piece of evidence from a victim of abuse.

The suspension of Ben Emmerson QC could serve to be another blow to the IICSA's momentum, which looked to be back on track after the appointment of Professor Alexis Jay, who was said to have filled survivors with hope after her successful uncovering of the sexual abuse in Rotherham.

Discussing the work of Ben Emmerson QC, and the way he was perceived by survivors, Peter Garsden said:

“Ben Emmerson has effectively won the respect and trust of survivors, who see him as a forceful, capable, well-organised, and knowledgeable lawyer with their interests at heart."

"Speculation around his suspension and future with the Inquiry is yet another damaging development, following the multiple resignations of Chairpersons. The suspension of someone they have invested their fragile faith in will undoubtedly affect their mood, attitude and ultimate trust in the Inquiry."

“One must speculate whether there is a conflict between the stated political objective of continuing with the Inquiry as it is, and the practicalities of the amount of work that entails and hence its likely length, with the resources made available to it."

"The inevitable consequence from a survivor's perspective is that they will think that this is yet another attempt by those in positions of authority to undermine the Inquiry – one which many feel was set up to fail from the beginning."

“It is important for survivors that the multiple strands of this Inquiry are allowed to proceed swiftly, without further internal machinations, and in a way that allows all the necessary connections to be made and conclusions to be reached."

"The government must take responsibility for providing the impetus and resources to restore trust which is currently incredibly shaken, and in danger of being lost altogether”.

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