Child abuse inquiry hit by ‘cover-up’
The national child abuse inquiry was accused of concealing the truth about why its two top lawyers resigned.
Ben Emmerson, QC, 53, and Elizabeth Prochaska, 35, the lead and first junior counsel at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), are understood to have signed confidentiality agreements when they quit.
The Times understands that their working relationship had become a source of concern among the inquiry’s senior officials. Ms Prochaska left two weeks ago. Mr Emmerson resigned on Thursday, 24 hours after he was suspended because the inquiry chairwoman Alexis Jay had become “very concerned about aspects of [his] leadership of the counsel team”.
The child abuse inquiry is betraying victims by playing office politics
Britain needs urgently to rebuild confidence in its system of child protection. But the process designed to do so, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, has lost its focus and seems to be consumed by internal power games.
The events this week have inflicted serious damage. The suspension and resignation of its legal counsel, Ben Emmerson, QC, follows the loss of three chairwomen. The most ambitious and potentially most expensive public inquiry in history is betraying abuse victims with its almost farcical inability to tackle its brief. Not a single day of evidence has been heard in two years.
Victims are right to be angry because they were promised a thorough investigation into institutional failure. Instead they are having to deal with an inquiry that is turning itself into an institution, with a staff of 167 and a habit of bureaucratic secrecy. The departure of Mr Emmerson, well regarded by many victims because of his stubborn independence from the Home Office, was conducted with an utter lack of transparency.