Suffolk choreographer took own life after sexual misconduct allegations

Internationally renowned choreographer Liam Scarlett who has been suspended from the Royal Ballet am

Liam Scarlett, who lived near Ipswich, died by suicide - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

A former Royal Ballet choreographer from Suffolk who was accused of sexual misconduct took his own life after feeling "humiliation" over the allegations, an inquest has heard.

Liam Scarlett, who was employed by the Royal Opera House as a dancer from 2005, then as artist in residence from 2012, was accused in 2019.

The 35-year-old was suspended on full pay in September 2019 while the allegations were investigated and he parted ways with the company in March of the following year.

Leah Hurst, head of legal and business affairs for the Royal Opera House, told an inquest at Suffolk Coroners' Court the allegations "covered a variety of areas" — including physical contact, inappropriate sexual behaviour and drugtaking.

She said there were "sufficient grounds to proceed to a disciplinary process" but said some press reports in January last year incorrectly said the allegations involved children.

However, Ms Hurst insisted Mr Scarlett was offered support, adding: "I believe we did support him during the process. It was a difficult process on all sides.

"We had not only to think of our duty of care towards Liam but also those individuals who came forward."

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Mr Scarlett’s parents, Deborah and Laurence Scarlett, went to his flat in Bramford, near Ipswich, on April 12 this year, after each receiving text messages from him, and they called emergency services after finding him there.

He had left notes to his family members.

Mr Scarlett had suffered a cardiac arrest and died at Ipswich Hospital four days later, of a brain injury due to suspension by ligature, with his family agreeing to stop treatment due to the poor prognosis.

Recording that Mr Scarlett died by suicide, Suffolk area coroner Jacqueline Devonish said: "It’s clear from his own words that there were feelings of humiliation around all of what happened in regards to those allegations."

She said the "main contributing factors to his decision" were the "serious nature of the allegations made by individuals at the Royal Opera House" and "press reports making public those allegations".

Mr Scarlett's mother told the inquest: "We feel Liam would not have taken his life if his name hadn’t been dragged through the press with inaccurate allegations."

If you need help and support, call Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust’s First Response helpline 0808 196 3494 or the Samaritans on 116 123. Both services are available 24 hours 7 days a week. You can also download the Stay Alive app on Apple & Android.

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