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  • Scandal of children's homes abuse payouts.

  • Scandal of children's homes abuse payouts Oct 2 2006
    There has been no case on record of a parent succeeding in court in retrieving children against opposition from social services and subsequently killing or severely harming them. If any such case had existed it would have been in the criminal court,well publicised in the press,and widely quoted as a warning by social services. The only case frequently quoted by social workers to justify removing children they consider "at risk" is that of Victoria Climbé who was in fact in care and killed by her "carers" not her parents!There have however been literally thousands of cases of children put into care despite opposition from parents who have subsequently been sexually abused, physically damaged,or even killed when in "care"

    South Wales Echo October 02 2006 - Scandal of children's homes abuse payouts - More than 160 adults who claim they were abused in a sex scandal that rocked children's homes in South Wales have been paid a total of £3m in compensation.

    Scandal of children's homes abuse payouts Oct 2 2006

    Moira Sharkey And Phillip Nifield, South Wales Echo

    More than 160 adults who claim they were abused in a sex scandal that rocked children's homes in South Wales have been paid a total of £3m in compensation.

    Around £1m of this has been paid to former residents of homes or approved schools in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, an Echo investigation has revealed.

    The compensation was paid out following Operation Goldfinch, a police inquiry into claims of abuse of children in care including approved schools and residential homes 20 and 30 years ago.

    Many of the claims were made by solicitors as part of a group litigation.

    The figures have not been made public before but were revealed after an 18-month investigation and a series of Freedom of Information Act requests made by the Echo, Cardiff councillor Jayne Cowan and a former social services manager.

    Official figures from South Wales Police show 79 people were arrested or interviewed and 30 were charged during Operation Goldfinch. The offences included indecent assault, child cruelty and actual bodily harm.

    Of these, a total of 17 people were convicted.

    Carol Floris, advice and support manager of Voices From Care Cymru, believes compensation was an important part of the healing process for many of the alleged victims.

    Goldfinch detectives spoke to former residents of childrens' homes and approved schools, some of which are now closed. They asked whether the people, now adults, had been abused when they were young.

    The inquiry became highly controversial for its method of 'trawling' for witnesses and evidence. In 2002, the Home Affairs select committee pointed out that it and similar operations run by more than 30 police forces across England and Wales ran the 'unusually high' risk of causing miscarriages of justice. One reason for concern was the opportunity to apply for compensation.

    In response to an inquiry made by Coun Jayne Cowan, it was revealed that £2,927,800 was paid to 162 claimants across South Wales.

    Chief Legal officer for Cardiff council Kate Berry said in a statement that 186 claims were dealt with under a group litigation which is understood to be more widely known as the South Wales Class Action. She confirmed that none of the staff involved in the litigation were still working with children in Cardiff.

    In a separate Freedom of Information request it was found that around £1m had been paid out to claims of abuse in council homes in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.

    These included Penhill, Taff Vale, John Kane, Suffolk House and Crosslands, Cardiff and Sully and Bryn y Don, Dinas Powys.

    Coun Cowan added: 'These figures, which it took the council more than six months to produce, to my knowledge have never been made public before. As far as I am aware, they were not even seen in confidential council reports. I believe this should be a matter brought before the full council.

    'The scale of the bill being paid out is alarming. Something of this importance should not be kept secret. The public have a right to know the impact of this scandal which should never happen again.'

    Newport City Council confirmed it had paid out £717,000 to 44 claimants. Swansea paid out more than £340,000 to 35 claimants. Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council has paid out almost £250,000 to 16 claimants.

    The allegations related to homes including Bryn y Don in Dinas Powys, Neath Farm in Neath/Port Talbot, Preswylfa in Bridgend, Silverbrook in Church Village, Suffolk Place in Cardiff Boverton and Sully Assessment Centre.

    The latest figures provided under a Freedom of Information request show no compensation has been paid out in relation to allegations of abuse against former teacher John Owen. Nine cases for compensation are being processed. Owen, 49, committed suicide in 2001 before he could face trial on charges of indecent assault.

    The Clywch inquiry led by Children's Commissioner Peter Clarke found that Owen who worked at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen for 17 years, had abused pupils for more than two decades. No compensation claims were dealt with by Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil or Vale of Glamorgan councils. All the compensation has been paid through the public purse and councils' insurers.

    'It was sort of called another kind of love'

    A MAN who was abused while at school says it destroyed his life.

    The victim was just 12 when the abuse began, having been sent to the approved school when his family broke up and he became a petty criminal.

    And it led him into a life of vice as a teenager who sold his body for sex. The man, who broke his 30-year silence to the Echo at the height of the police investigation, said: 'We were taken out of our beds and messed about with.

    'I know 20 to 30 boys who were treated like that. All the lads would have known about it but we deliberately didn't talk about it.

    'It was sort of called another kind of love. It is hard to explain but if you had a bad weekend at home and came back they would take you to bed. It felt like love.'

    The man said when he left the home he almost 'missed' the abuse.

    'It had a terrible effect on me. I went out and started importuning as soon as I left the school. I charged for sex, I was doing it for the money and because I was missing something. I had been taught to do it.'

    He lived like that for three years before sorting himself out. In the late 1990s he was contacted by a lawyer and told someone had made a complaint. It was then he went to the Operation Goldfinch detectives. He gave his evidence, but claims he never made any attempt to claim compensation.

    Investigation into historical abuse

    April 21 1997: Operation Goldfinch was launched following a separate inquiry into allegations of abuse at Taff Vale Children's Home in Cardiff;

    July 1997: Following a media appeal 122 people contact the police helpline;

    April 1998: Robert Starr, of Rumney, Cardiff, became the first person to be convicted as a result of the inquiry. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison at Cardiff Crown Court after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting nine boys. His family later claimed he pleaded guilty because of the stress of the inquiry and began a campaign to prove his innocence;

    November 1999: Former headmaster Derek Brushett, pictured, was sentenced to 14 years in prison, later reduced to 12, for abusing 17 boys between 1974 and 1980. A massive campaign for his freedom grew up around his case which now operates under the umbrella group Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers (Fact);

    October 2002: South Wales Police reports to the Home Affairs Select Committee that, to date, 58 people had been arrested. There had been 11 successful prosecutions and one acquittal. The Select Committee concluded in its report that the investigation technique, in general, had produced a "new genre of miscarriage of justice";

    December 2004: Welsh-born MP Claire Curtis-Thomas tells a special conference of medical and legal experts she believes the issue of compensation is a cause for real concern when allegations are made in historic abuse cases.

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