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PROMINENT criminal and civil set 1 Crown Office Row has lost its second senior clerk in just six months - midway through a major constitutional shake-up.
The departure of Douglas Neave so soon after he was called in to replace longstanding senior clerk Patrick Duane has raised eyebrows within the Inns of Court.
It comes at a time when the set's head, Richard Ferguson QC, is no longer technically its leader, as the old constitution has been scrapped and a new one, which will be voted on later this month, is being drawn up.
It is understood that personality clashes within the chambers had prompted Duane's departure in February to join Two Dr Johnson's Buildings.
Neave was unavailable for comment and it is not known whether he has secured a new post. It is understood he and the chambers are still discussing the terms of his departure.
Neave had joined the chambers after a short spell at the small Kent common law set Maidstone Chambers.
Up until April 1996 he was senior clerk at the commercial set Brick Court Chambers.
John Phipps, who was already in the clerking room at 1 Crown Office Row, is now expected to take on the senior clerking role.
Ferguson acknowledged that there was a power vacuum at the chambers but he expected to be reinstated as its head of chambers.
He denied that there were any major internal problems at the set, saying Duane had left of his own accord.