Royal Opera House’s Liam Scarlett ‘humiliated’ by sexual misconduct claimson November 12, 2021 at 10:06 am

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An inquest hears a Royal Opera House dancer felt “humiliated” by sexual misconduct allegations.

Liam Scarlett

Image source, Getty Images

A former Royal Opera House choreographer accused of sexual misconduct took his own life following the “humiliation” of the allegations and press reports, an inquest heard.

Liam Scarlett, 35, had been told by the world-famous London venue there were grounds for a disciplinary process.

He left the company in March 2020 and was found by his parents at his flat in Suffolk on 12 April this year.

He had a cardiac arrest and died in Ipswich Hospital four days later.

The inquest in Ipswich was told he suffered a brain injury, and his parents, who found him at his home in Bramford, agreed to stop treatment due to the poor prognosis.

He had left notes for family members.

Suffolk coroner Jacqueline Devonish recorded that he died by suicide and said: “It’s clear from his own words that there were feelings of humiliation around all of what happened in regards to those allegations.”

Leah Hurst, the Royal Opera House’s head of legal and business affairs, told the court the allegations “included inappropriate physical contact in rehearsals and other settings, sexual behaviour out of the workplace that was felt to be inappropriate [and] improperly made casting decisions”.

“There were allegations around drugtaking as well,” she said.

Royal Opera House audience and stage

Image source, Royal Opera House

Mr Scarlett had trained at the Royal Ballet School from the age of 11, joined the Royal Opera House in 2005 and became its artist in residence in 2012.

He was initially suspended on full pay in September 2019 while the claims were investigated.

Mr Scarlett was informed in January 2020 that there were sufficient grounds to proceed to a disciplinary process, the inquest heard.

Press reports that month incorrectly stated that the allegations involved children, Ms Hurst said, while a Royal Opera House statement had made clear there were “no matters in relation to students at the Royal Ballet School”.

Further allegations were received via a whistleblowing hotline, the inquest heard.

She said that before the disciplinary process began, Mr Scarlett approached the Royal Opera House through his lawyers and said he wanted to leave.

“It was a difficult process on all sides,” she said, adding that Mr Scarlett was offered support.

Deborah Scarlett, Liam’s mother, said that they spoke about the claims after they appeared in the press.

“He told me they weren’t true and he couldn’t understand why people would make allegations against him,” she said.

“He was deeply upset.

“We feel Liam would not have taken his life if his name hadn’t been dragged through the press with inaccurate allegations.”

The coroner said Mr Scarlett also “clearly knew” that his production of Frankenstein had been called off by the Royal Danish Ballet, ahead of its announcement on 16 April, and that this may also have been a factor.

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