UK

Brian Altman QC named as child abuse inquiry counsel

Brian Altman QC Image copyright IICSA

Brian Altman QC is to take over as the most senior lawyer in the inquiry into child sex abuse in England and Wales.

His appointment as lead counsel was confirmed by the inquiry's fourth chairwoman, Professor Alexis Jay.

He replaces Ben Emmerson QC, who quit in September and was subsequently cleared of allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

He has served as first senior treasury counsel - prosecuting serious cases for the Crown Prosecution Service.

The inquiry, which was set up in July 2014, has previously experienced a string of problems.

'Keeping on track'

Mr Altman said: "The Government and the public have set the inquiry a huge challenge to investigate institutional responses to child sexual abuse in the past, and to report and make recommendations in order to prevent such abuse happening in the future.

"I am delighted to have been appointed to lead a team of lawyers dedicated to completing the task of the inquiry.

"I will work to ensure that the investigations and the public hearings are kept on track in order to deliver the terms of reference of the inquiry."

Professor Jay said: "This is an important appointment for the inquiry and I look forward to working with Brian as we take forward the work of the inquiry."

Dowler case

Mr Altman spent 16 years as treasury counsel, the latter two-and-a-half years as first senior treasury counsel, advising on and prosecuting some of the most high-profile cases of the time.

Among them was the abduction and murder of Milly Dowler by Levi Bellfield and the case of John Downey, the man accused of killing four soldiers the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombing, who was given a guarantee he would not face trial.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was set up to investigate allegations made against local authorities, religious organisations, the armed forces and public and private institutions in England and Wales, as well as people in the public eye.

Justice Goddard, a New Zealand high court judge, Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former President of the High Court Family Division, and Dame Fiona Woolf, a leading lawyer have all previously stood down from leading it.

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