Liam Scarlett was terminated without trial or transparency

Liam Scarlett was terminated without trial or transparency


norman lebrecht

April 19, 2021

From a thoughtful assessment by dance writer Graham Watts, just posted in the Spectator:

… Scarlett’s career was effectively ended without a trial or any transparent due process. An independent inquiry took place in secret and concluded that there were no matters to pursue but nonetheless ended his ability to work. Of course, safeguarding and a duty of care to students should be at the highest level of secure robustness, but a duty of care to the accused is also required. Accusers get to keep their anonymity, but the accused has nowhere to hide even when allegations are dropped.

Scarlett was still a young man. He had been institutionalised within The Royal Ballet for over 20 years and yet was cut adrift with no support other than the farewell gift of an abrupt and ambiguous one-paragraph statement….

Read on here.

Many questions need to be answered.





  • Paul Dawson says:

    The article is well-argued and it’s good that the The Spectator allows newcomers through its paywall to read it. The erosion of presumed innocence in sexual harassment allegations raises serious problems. Both accuser and accused are entitled to justice, but delivering this to both parties when the evidence is frequently “(S)he says/(S)he says” is extraordinarily difficult.

  • marcus says:

    This is just a minefield. It does, perhaps, sound similar to the case of Alex Salmond in that he appears to be, at least in the minds of some people, “dodgy” without actually meeting the threshold of criminality (no smoke without fire). I have no answers here-it is undoubtedly very sad.

  • Tamino says:

    Several suicides from the #metoo summary courts come to mind. Anne Sofie von Otter’s husband for instance.

  • Job terminations don’t have trials and complaining that there wasn’t one is a distracting rhetorical dodge.

    If you want to sue in court after that, OK, but then you *will* get the transparency and a public airing of why there was a termination.

    • FrankUSA says:

      Robert Holmen, is not any type of investment by any organizations a sort of “trial” and I mean this in the broadest definition of the word “trial” and not in the narrower legal definition;a legal trial with lawyers,judges etc. You are right that the accused has the right to pursue legal options in courts but these are civil cases. Nothing ever happened in criminal courts in this case.

  • Alviano says:

    I am quite sure that the accusers receive counseling, but it probably addresses their status as victims. Maybe they should also be taught to set limits with others, speak up when they are crossed, and, most importantly, to take the words and actions of others with a grain of salt. There is a big difference between, “you don’t get the part unless you…” and “you look hot today.” Yes, this asks a lot, but sometimes being an adult is hard.
    I am sure I will be stoned for this but my own code of behavior says that if I don’t say it publicly, I don’t say it. And further if I don’t address it soon after the event, I don’t address it at all.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Well stated. You are obviously a well-adjusted person. Yes, being an adult and accepting personal responsibility is hard.

  • Karl says:

    Even when found not guilty in a trial false accusations still ruin lives. The Jian Ghomeshi case is the best recent example I can think of. He was found not guilty of charges by three separate women and the judge said there was “outright deception” in the testimony brought forth by three complainants. “Each complainant demonstrated, to some degree, a willingness to ignore their oath to tell the truth on more than one occasion.”

    What is more alarming is that none of the women were charged with a crime. Instead Canada passed laws to make it harder for men to defend themselves against false accusations. Then a Saskatchewan judge threw out the reforms in the context of a single case, deeming them unconstitutional. Judge Bruce Henning wrote that the new disclosure rules “seriously limit an accused person’s ability to effectively challenge the veracity of a complainant.”

  • FrankUSA says:

    In terms of transparency,the final reports from the various arts organization have been made public. But also what been out in the public discourse are specific behaviors that Liam Scarlett allegedly committed. I posted these two allegations but I’m not going to repeat it again. What I will repeat is the this situations must have complete transparency. Any investigation(staying within the arts field but I feel it is pertinent to any sexual misconduct) should be made completely public. The names of the alleged accusers should be made public unless they are legal juveniles or under the age of consent. Any evidence should be made public. The accused needs to be able to answer accusations and that answer should be made public. In the US,two historical events happened which really are similar to how these arts organizations handled this situation. In the 1600’s,there was a true witch-hunt. People were accused of being witches and they were summarized killed. In the 1950’s there was the Communist Red Scare. I am sure there are plenty of other examples. To summarize,on one hand we have the published reports from the various arts organizations(IMHO, completely vague) but very specific activities have been published and part of the public discourse attribute to Liam Scarlett (IMHO,)nothing proven. How can anyone come away from this situation and not say that it was mishandled. The family of Liam Scarlett is asking for privacy. It sounds as if they will not seek accountability or transparency from the mentioned arts organizations. I doubt that the organizations involved will publish any further information. So we have the tragedy of one person committing suicide and the additional tragedy that nothing will be learned and we will see a repeat of these same situations again and again.

  • MDP says:

    Companies such as the ROH, with authority over large numbers of young employees who’re engaged in physical and aesthetic work that requires a lot of handling, should figure out how to take allegations of contact (beyond the acceptable) seriously without handing the alleged a death sentence.

    This was a monumental failure of competence by the RB leadership. If the allegations are true and management ignored the victims’ abuse for 11 years, this is clearly unacceptable. And if, as per the investigation report, the allegations weren’t robust enough to warrant formal trial, management certainly did nothing to help rehabilitate Scarlett.

  • Sharon says:

    I agree that transparency in accusations is important. But part of transparency is having clear rules in policies and procedures manuals of which everyone connected to the rules is informed.
    As I said before EVERYONE who is an employee of the State of New York is required to take a sexual harrassment class with a quiz–class participants are given scenarios after the lecture and asked “Is this harrassment?”.

    In New York State government employment, the rules are actually pretty strict. If someone is your professional equal, not above or below you, you are allowed to ask him/her on a date ONCE. If refused to continue would be considered harrassment or stalking. “I like your outfit” is o.k. “You look hot” is considered harrassment. This is why Cuomo is in so much trouble.