When a short sharp shock policy turns into mass sexual and physical abuse

While attention has been focused on a Westminster paedophile ring an extraordinary police investigation into a now closed young offenders institution in Durham is revealing the mass abuse of inmates.

No fewer than nearly 900 people  have come forward alleging physical and sexual abuse  at Medomsley young offenders institution in Durham  dating back to 1970s and 1980s  a decade or so after a trial did convict two people of abuse.in 2003.

The investigation was triggered after former prison officer Neville Husband was jailed for eight years for abusing five youths.Others coming forward and he was subsequently jailed for a further two years for other attacks.He died in 2010, after being released from prison.

His former colleague Leslie Johnson, who was jailed for six years in 2005 for sexual offences, has also since died.

But now I gather Durham Police  have traced 24 other people involved in the abuse – six of them have also since died – but  up to 18 people could well be charged – if the Crown Prosecution Service agrees they should face justice.

The abuse not only took place inside the closed institution but I gather inmates were taken off the premises across Durham to be physically and sexually abused.

If the case goes ahead it will be the largest number of people ever abused in one institution. There is also an interesting cross reference to Neville Husband’s previous job at Portland prison in Dorset..It is worth reading a blog by Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform here linking issues at the two penal institutions.

Before  reporting restrictions severely limit what can be said – one common factor is emerging – many of the people who were abused at a time when the Thatcher government was enthusiastically pursuing under William Whitelaw the ” short sharp shock ” policy – a tough regime for petty offenders aimed at making them go straight.

I am sure Willie Whitelaw and Margaret Thatcher did not intend to promote sexual and physical abuse of young offenders – but what does appear to have happened is that the policy in this one institution became a licence for this  type of abuse.

In some sense the historic disclosures resonate with today’s government’s punitive views -pursued particularly by Chris Grayling, the current justice secretary- whether it is banning access to books for prisoners or the record suicides among young people in prisons.

If people are treated like dirt by politicians and are seen by society to be worthless – then those in charge of them might well be tempted to abuse them because it doesn’t matter what happens to them. Given Chris Grayling unlike Theresa May, the home secretary,is on record to a member of the public that he thinks having an inquiry into sexual abuse is  “a waste of money” one wonders whether there are current Medomsley’s in the present system.

Justice Saunders Sentencing Remarks at the Hacking Trial

What the judge said about Coulson and the other defendants in full.Andy Coulson got 18 months in jail.

The Criminal Media Nexus

R –v- Coulson and others.

Sentencing Remarks

Parliament has decided that it is a criminal offence to access the voicemails of other people without their consent or an order of the court. Parliament has decided that the offence applies to members of the press in the same way as it does to all other citizens. This law provides the same protection to all citizens including those who, for one reason or another, are in the public eye. Parliament set the maximum sentence for the offence of intercepting communications at 2 years imprisonment and Parliament has decided that the same maximum sentence applies to an offence of conspiracy which can cover, as it does in this case, a very large number of individual offences.

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Phone Hacking Trial: Andy Coulson guilty of phone hacking charge, Brooks not guilty on all charges – Martin Hickman

How is the mighty press secretary for David Cameron, the love cheat who exposed David Blunkett, fallen! What does this mean for Rupert Murdoch when a right hand man is exposed as a conspiratorial phone hacker! What does it say about Cameron’s judgement when Matthew Ancona’s book reveals that Coulson himself warned Cameron of the problem of the police investigation into the News of the World meant he shouldn’t take the job in the first place.

Inforrm's Blog

Andy CoulsonAndy Coulson, the former tabloid guilty who became the Prime Minister’s director of communications, was today found guilty at the Old Bailey of conspiring to hack phones while running the News of the World.

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Phone Hacking Trial: Closing Speech, Clive Goodman “groomed” to take sole blame for phone hacking- Martin Hickman

Damning summing up by David Spens for defendant Clive Goodman who says he was ” groomed ” by Andy Coulson to take the phone hacking rap so other NI executives could escape blame.

Inforrm's Blog

davidspens(1)Day 109: Clive Goodman, the News of the World’s royal editor, was “groomed” to take sole blame for the phone hacking scandal, his lawyer told a court today.

Making his closing speech at the phone hacking trial, David Spens, QC, said his client was encouraged by executives to stay silent in 2006-07 about the full scale of illegality at the paper as part of a “cynical” cover-up.

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Phone Hacking Trial: Clive Goodman: CPS had evidence incriminating three NOTW execs in 2006 – Martin Hickman

So Clive Goodman has now implicated THREE News International executives for involvement in phone hacking and the Crown Prosecution Service for not wanting to prosecute them. Extraordinary claim against Coulson that he could arrange for Goodman not to go to prison. Goodman was later jailed for four months. Wow!

Inforrm's Blog

News Of The WorldDay 72: The Crown Prosecution Service had evidence incriminating three News of the World executives in phone hacking seven years ago – but made a decision to limit the case to the paper’s royal editor Clive Goodman, he claimed at the Old Bailey today.

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Phone Hacking Trial: Clive Goodman lied to newspaper execs about paying police officers – Martin Hickman

So Goodman now says he deliberately lied over paying police officers. What is more revealing is how the News of the World treated sources: taking a ” heartless commercial decision” to expose them to get another story.

Inforrm's Blog

Clive-GoodmanDay 70, Part 2:  Clive Goodman lied to newspaper executives that he was paying police officers so that his stories were published and his contacts were paid more promptly, he said today.

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Historic child sex abuse investigation now looks at an unsolved murder

The Met Police paedophile unit is now  investigating the sadistic murder of a boy  possibly by one of the country’s most notorious paedophiles Sidney Cooke.

The allegations have surfaced as part of a renewed investigation into sex abuse parties held in the 1980s following the seizure of film  by the Met Police in their investigation into whether there was a  group of VIP paedophiles, including a former Cabinet minister, in the 1980s.

 Details are revealed by my colleague Mark Conrad on the Exaro website this weekend.

 He writes: “Police believe that some of the “sex parties” were organised by Sidney Cooke, the notorious paedophile who led the ring of four who were jailed for killing Jason Swift, a 14-year-old boy, in Hackney, east London after gang raping him in 1984.

In a chilling development, the detectives are investigating whether Cooke was involved in an incident in which a pre-teen boy was strangled to death during a sustained sexual attack at a basement flat in London.

Detectives have interviewed what they believe to be a witness to the murder.”

 Cooke is still serving a life sentence in jail for the sexual abuse of two young brothers in the 1970s and 1980s and is now aged 86, one of the growing numbers of elderly paedophiles in prison following successful police prosecutions.

In a quite separate and bizarre development allegations are being made that the security services and special branch may be involved in monitoring the revival of investigations into paedophile rings in the 1980s. People have turned up at  survivors and witnesses addresses saying they are journalists but leaving no cards or numbers. in the latest development reported in the Sunday People and Exaro News a person turned up at a key witness address saying he was from the Sunday People  They had not sent anyone there.

This is disturbing given the alleged record of the security services and special branch about Cyril Smith – who had been monitored by special branch – but no criminal action was taken against him. It could be that the security services are becoming the insecurity services as a result of these new investigations.