The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has appointed a new lead counsel following the departure of Ben Emmerson QC. High-profile criminal barrister Brian Altman QC will take the position, it was revealed today.

He will take up the role in March.

Alexis Jay, chair of the inquiry, said the hire of the ‘hugely experienced’ Altman was an important appointment.

‘I look forward to working with Brian as we take forward the work of the inquiry,’ she added.

Altman spent 16 years as treasury counsel, the last two and a half years of which were as first senior treasury counsel.

As a member of chambers 2 Bedford Row he specialises in serious crime, including terrorism and homicide, as well fraud and bribery.

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.’

Emmerson, a member of Matrix Chambers, was suspended last year over what the inquiry said were concerns about his leadership. He resigned shortly after.

In December, he was cleared of sexual assault following an inquiry into his conduct, led by former director of public prosecutions Sir David Calvert-Smith.

Jay is the fourth head of the inquiry following the resignations of her three predecessors.