Ben Emmerson quits child sex abuse inquiry one day after being suspended

Top lawyer decides to step down from post of senior counsel after two years

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The top lawyer in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has quit, only a day after being suspended from his role. 

Ben Emmerson QC decided to step down from his post of senior counsel after two years in the job. 

In his resignation letter to inquiry chairwoman Professor Alexis Jay, Mr Emmerson said he would be "sad" to leave but was clear that he remained "totally committed to securing a fair and just result for those who matter most, the victims and survivors of childhood abuse."

He added: "Shortly after you took over, you announced a review of the inquiry's ways of working to identify any changes that may be necessary in the public interest.

"When you decided to re-appoint me as counsel to the inquiry in early September, I had my personal doubts about whether I was genuinely the right person to steer that review process.

"Since then, it has become clear to me that I am not the person to take this review forward on your behalf. It is now time for someone else to take the helm with a different leadership of the Counsel team.

"There is no truth in suggestions that I have resigned due to a difference of opinion with you about the next steps for the inquiry."

Professor Jay confirmed she accepted Mr Emmerson’s decision and also said there was “no truth” in suggestions of a difference of opinion between them.

Mr Emmerson was suspended on Wednesday amid reports he was about to resign.

His departure was announced only hours after Elizabeth Prochaska, the second most senior lawyer in the inquiry, also resigned from her position. 

In a statement following Ms Prochaska's resignation, the inquiry refuted the claim it was in crisis. "This is simply not the case, and the chair and panel are united in their determination to see this important work through to a conclusion," it said. 

Labour MP Chuka Umunna, who is looking to become the chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, initially said he was concerned about Mr Emmerson being suspended. 

“As an MP to the principal survivors' group I'm extremely concerned about Mr Emmerson's suspension, yet another blow to the search for justice,” Mr Umunna said on Twitter.

Prime Minister Theresa May had earlier said the “really important” inquiry would go ahead, adding that it still retained both her and Home Secretary Amber Rudd's full confidence.