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Friday, December 3, 2021

Choreographer Liam Scarlett took own life after misconduct claims


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.

The world-famous London venue informed Liam Scarlett, 35, that there were grounds for disciplinary action.

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

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

According to the inquest in Ipswich, he suffered a brain injury, and his parents, who discovered him at his home in Bramford, agreed to discontinue treatment due to the poor prognosis.

He had left notes for members of his family.

“It’s clear from his own words that there were feelings of humiliation around all of what happened in regards to those allegations,” Suffolk coroner Jacqueline Devonish wrote in her report.

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

“There were allegations of drug use as well,” she added.

Liam Scarlett joined the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden as a dancer in 2005

Mr Scarlett began his training at the Royal Ballet School when he was 11 years old, and he joined the Royal Opera House in 2005, becoming its artist in residence in 2012.

In September 2019, he was suspended on full pay while the claims were investigated.

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

Ms Hurst claimed that press reports that month incorrectly stated that the allegations involved children, despite a Royal Opera House statement stating that there were “no matters relating to students at the Royal Ballet School.”

According to the inquest, additional allegations were received via a whistleblowing hotline.

She claimed that before the disciplinary process began, Mr Scarlett approached the Royal Opera House through his lawyers and stated his desire to resign.

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

‘Dragged through the press’

Deborah Scarlett, Liam’s mother, stated that they discussed the allegations after they were published in the press.

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

“He was agitated.

“We believe Liam would not have committed suicide if his name had not been dragged through the press with false allegations.”

The coroner stated that Mr Scarlett “clearly knew” that his production of Frankenstein had been cancelled by the Royal Danish Ballet prior to its announcement on April 16, and that this may have also played a role.

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