A serial killer haunts the streets of the Rhondda Valley. Bent Police who torture suspects and beat up a whistleblower colleague come to the Rhondda on a mission to get rid of evidence. In North Wales two children escape the clutches of a care home run by a paedophile only to be murdered later. And in London a far left group backing the miners strike is run by a control freak hypocrite with a penchant for sexually abusing young women.
This is a riveting and horrific tale and there is hardly a sympathetic character in the book. Only Terry Vaughan, a local policeman who joined the force to escape the Valleys and is described as a ” wet behind the ears sheep-shagger ” by his bent superiors emerges as a hero in the tale.
The author, Roger Cottrell, is a former investigative crime reporter and was a young Trotsykite on the Central Committee of the Worker’s Revolutionary Party during the miner’s strike. Now a script writer for TV and film in Ireland and a university academic this is part of a ” work in progress” trilogy.
For those, like me, who love to frighten themselves watching edgy Scandi Noir on BBC 4 on a Saturday night this tale is a perfect fit. Indeed the author has already written a script.
Put together in the mix, an ambitious graduate local reporter nicknamed ” Clever Trevor” with a drug habit in the Rhondda; an ambitious woman hack on the Sun and News of the World and those senior bent police officers, all on the trail of a serial killer who murders paedo victims and young women who support the miner’s strike. It also a cover up of a paedophile ring involving Westminster politicians. To add a literary angle the mysterious killer who taunts the police goes by the name of Azazel, the fallen angel who joined Satan in Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante’s Inferno creeps into the story.
For those who remember this era the background of the miner’s strike with pickets stoning coaches bring in scabs, and police from the Met roughing up striking miners in the back of vans, is very familiar. Added spice comes when striking miners smash up Rhondda’s police station and the police wreck a miner’s club in retaliation.
Some references in the book are more than just fiction. There is the murder of a black social worker Americk Fraser for trying to expose a paedophile ring operating in the London borough of Lambeth. He was handcuffed to shopping trolley, doused in lighter fuel and set ablaze and dumped in the Thames. In real life Bulaq Forsythe a black social worker was murdered for trying to expose a paedophile ring in Lambeth. He didn’t die in such horrendous circumstances But he had notes linking the South Vale Care Home in South Norwood to paedophiles. The Met Police launched an investigation into his death but nothing came of it. Now we know from the official Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and a recent internal inquiry there was widespread child sexual abuse in Lambeth.
Similarly the North Wales care home where the boys absconded in the book had for years been part of a paedophile ring and its ring leaders in the 1980s included the late North Wales Police chief superintendent Gordon Angelsea. He was never exposed until a National Crime Agency investigation secured his conviction in 2016. All the stuff about Masonic links and the police co-operating with care homes is based on grim fact.
And Liam O’Leary, the head of the Workers Revolutionary League, is based on the now long dead Gerry Healy, the head of the WRP, who is said to have sexually abused 26 women and employed two thugs to impose discipline in the far left organisation.
This is indeed a very dark book but made more menacing because a lot of the fiction in the tale has a basis in reality. It has a very dramatic ending which I won’t spoil by revealing but it is very cinematic. Read it if you can stomach it.
Jaded Jerusalem by Roger Cottrell. Available from Amazon £12.99
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It was unfortunate that the long awaited final reportfrom the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse coincided with the resignation of Liz Truss, the shortest serving PM in British history. The Westminster psychodrama has drained political discussion of any policy initiatives from the government while the main protagonists in the Tory Party fight each other to the death for the top job.
If Theresa May , who commissioned the inquiry, was still PM I suspect that action would have been taken promptly. As it is there will be no response from the government for six months and I doubt whether we will see any new laws for years. Particularly if Boris Johnson becomes PM again as he made it vividly clear that investigating child sex abuse was a waste of money. You only have to look at how long it is taking to reform the antiquated Mental Health Act to see a parallel.
Having reported on it and even helped to initiate the inquiry as a journalist, I have followed it with a lot of interest , both when I was on Exaro News and on this blog. I have mixed feelings about the £186m inquiry .
On the plus side the scale of the inquiry – some 15 investigations in every institutional area of the UK from the Roman Catholic Church and Church of England to local authority care and the reach of the global internet – should put to bed any misconceptions that child sex abuse is not a major epidemic in this country. And it proves that in many instances that those in charge of those institutions are more than willing to turn a blind eye and pretend it doesn’t exist either for reputational reasons or because they actively connived in the sexual exploitation of children.
Also it did provide a much needed voice for thousands of survivors who might never get real justice but at least now felt people had listened to their appalling life changing experiences.
On the other hand I felt -because it was closely tied to the legal profession- they felt they had to be ultra cautious and only take on proven cases by perpetrators – whether Bishop Ball or dead people like Sir Cyril Smith – because the fury from families of the living, I am thinking of Greville Janner, wanted no discussion of anything to suggest that he might have been involved.
The inquiry also took place during the conviction of paedophile Carl Beech whose detailed revelations turned out to be made up and the Metropolitan Police spent millions investigating them. I suspect that made them more cautious and the media ultra cautious in reporting fresh allegations.
The downside of this is that has protected more paedophiles from media scrutiny and made authorities less likely to believe victims. One only has to see the total silence in the media of the allegations revealed in Simon Danczuk and Dan Smith’s book, Scandal at Dolphin Square, of a well researched story of David Ingle, a victim of abuse by a Lincolnshire farmer there.
Now the proof will be in the legacy of this inquiry. It has proposed the mandatory reporting of sexual abuse – making it a criminal offence not to do so. But there is an argument whether this goes far enough.
Richard Scorer, the head of abuse law at Slater and Gordon, which represented more than 120 victims at the inquiry, said there should also be a criminal penalty for failure to report abuse that is reasonably suspected, otherwise organisations will continue to turn a blind eye.
He is reported in a good analysis by Rajeev Syal in the Guardian as saying:” Children rarely disclose abuse, perpetrators almost never do,” he said. “Mandatory reporting can only work if the requirement to report suspicions has consequences, such as a criminal sanction. The inquiry’s proposal falls short of what survivors seek.”
More must be done to support whistleblowers of sexual abuse
More can also be done to support whistleblowers in this situation.
Jayne Senior, Director of Safeguarding at WhistleblowersUK, said; “After a week of political turmoil, it would be easy to overlook the damning reports exposing the failure by every possible authority to protect Children and the most vulnerable in our society and the Whistleblowers who have selflessly spoken up only to become targets and subsequently victims themselves.”
The report also proposes a national compensation scheme for survivors of sexual abuse and “the creation of a Child Protection Authority (CPA) in England and in Wales. The CPAs will have powers to inspect any institution associated with children. They will not replace current inspectorates in relation to the statutory authorities, but may require inspection of those authorities by existing inspectorates. The CPAs over time will become centres of expertise, and may extend their child protection functions to other forms of harm experienced by children.”
There are also 17 other recommendations. They vary from tougher controls of the internet to extending the debarring and disclosure scheme for staff to those working overseas with children to the end of pain compliance techniques for children held in custody.
The problem is that again unfortunately these measures come at a new time of austerity and fresh spending cuts so I can’t see a government committed to lifting the burdens of regulations wanting to implement them soon.
The problem is immense and the report estimates that child sexual abuse costs the country £10 billion and of the 13 million children in the UK “Babies, toddlers and children are potentially at risk, with current estimates indicating that 1 in 6 girls and 1 in 20 boys experience child sexual abuse before the age of 16.”
But it is going to take a lot of action and public pressure to make the government act and also create a gamechanger situation for the millions of children suffering sexual abuse which is a global problem.
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Schools should be safe places for children. They also unfortunately make good targets for paedophiles.
The latest report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, published this week, focuses on residential schools- from specialist schools for aspiring musicians to boarding schools and residential schools for vulnerable children
As the report chillingly said: “According to Operation Hydrant,[a police investigation]approximately 40 percent of reports of non-recent child sexual abuse involving an institution, organisation or person of public prominence had connections with schools.”
Sexual abuse antithesis of what should happen at school
It went on: “The instances of the sexual abuse of children presented in this report will shock and horrify. They represent the antithesis of everything that a school should be. For many victims and survivors, the impacts have been profound and lifelong. Some perpetrators have been brought to justice, but many have not. Some of those in positions of authority and responsibility have been held to account for their failures of leadership and governance in varying degrees, but many have not.”
Some of the examples where child sexual abuse has been proved are indeed horrifying.
“Hillside First School was a maintained school for children aged four to eight in Weston-super-Mare. For 15 years from 1995 to 2010, teacher Nigel Leat had his “favourites”, young girls many of whom were vulnerable in some way. From September 2006, there was evidence that in each school year Leat selected a different girl to sexually abuse, doing so in various locations in the school. Police discovered 454 original videos in which Leat had filmed himself abusing his pupils. He was charged with 36 separate offences, including a count of attempted rape, eight counts of sexual assault by penetration and 23 other counts of sexual assault, all against girls under 13, the youngest of whom was 6. He pleaded guilty.”
And a third.
Clifton College is an independent boarding school in Bristol, offering a range of educational provision, from nursery to sixth form. In 2008, a former teacher, Stephen Johnston, was convicted of buggery and indecent assault of a pupil over a three-year period in the early 1990s. He had invited the boy to his flat to drink and watch pornographic videos. When other staff had complained of teenage boys going into the flat, the headteacher responded that “what happens in a private house which is not part of the School is nothing to do with me as Headmaster”. Between 1998 and 2014, what the respected housemaster Jonathan Thomson-Glover did in both his private house and in a boy’s day house at the school was to hide cameras – including in the showers, toilets and bathrooms – to film 2,500 hours of videos of boys undressing, showering, using the toilet and engaging in sexual acts. “
What emerges here – there are other examples – is that perpetrators are not involved in an isolated act – it is the industrial scale of abuse by individuals or groups of people.
ignorance and reluctance to report sexual abuse
The report said there is still either ignorance or reluctance to believe that children are sexually abused in residential schools and cases are not always reported to safeguarding officers either – even though there are dedicated officers to handle complaints. Inspections of schools are haphazard and standards in schools vary enormously.
Their chief recommendation to government said:
The Department for Education and the Welsh Government should: • require all residential special schools to be inspected against the quality standards used to regulate children’s homes in England and care homes in Wales; • reintroduce a duty on boarding schools and residential special schools to inform the relevant inspectorate of allegations of child sexual abuse and other serious incidents, with professional or regulatory consequences for breach of this duty; if the recommendation above is implemented, residential special schools will automatically be subject to this duty; and • introduce a system of licensing and registration of educational guardians for international students which requires Disclosure and Barring Service and barred list checks to be undertaken.
“Day and residential schools play a key role in keeping children safe from harm, but despite 20 years of enhanced focus on safeguarding they are not as safe for children as they should be. This must change. The seven recommendations in this report must be implemented to vitally improve the current systems of child protection in schools.”
This is the last investigation report from the inquiry. A final report on all its findings will be published later this year.
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New book published today reveals child sex scandals dating back to the 1980s and a thwarted Met Police investigation that wasn’t the discredited Operation Midland
An amazing new book today reveals the notorious history of one of London’s iconic block of flats – the 1930s built Dolphin Square overlooking the Thames- home over the last nine decades to the rich and famous, spies, Fascists, entertainers and glitzy film stars and even the unofficial home of the Free French army during World War II.
The authors chronicle the lives of about 300 people who lived there from Oswald and Diana Mosley who were interned in World War Two, the Vassall Russian spy and Profumo sex scandals of the 1960s to murders down to an amazingly discreet character, Major Monty Chidson, who smuggled diamonds out of Amsterdam in a daring do operation during the German invasion of Holland. It kept them out of Nazi hands in the Second World War.
This book has been well covered by the Daily Telegraph magazine and other national media with one extraordinary exception. Not a single word has been written about the groups of men who used Dolphin Square for child sex abuse despite two chapters in the book devoted to their alleged crimes.
I am going to concentrate on these stories because you won’t read them anywhere else – I suspect because both the police and the media have been bruised by the activities of Carl Beech, a paedophile who posed as a survivor and fed elaborate and detailed stories of the rich and powerful abusing children and is now in jail for perverting the course of justice.
The terrible heart rending tale of David Ingle
The first story dates from 1982 is of David Ingle, described as an articulate and handsome youth from Lincolnshire, who was taken to Dolphin Square by a Lincolnshire farmer, Gordon Dawson,, after being repeatedly raped by him.
The authors write “According to David, he suffered abuse in three locales: in Lincolnshire, at Dolphin Square and in guesthouses close to the spectacular Blickling Estate in Norfolk. All the while, David’s life away from Dawson was unravelling. He became withdrawn and his previously high performance at school dipped steeply. His only real peace came in the company of the horses he loved to ride”
Dawson took him to London while on church business where he sub leased a flat in Dolphin Square. He took him to dinner with “important people” from the Church of England and MPs. Later he was taken back to the flat. The authors write: “He does have memories of waking up in the flat the next morning, sometimes hearing the voices of men milling about the apartment. He frequently experienced pain in his body that he knew did not correspond to the physical effects of the rapes that Dawson had perpetrated. In other words, he was assaulted by some person or persons other than (or in addition to) Dawson on these weekends. Unable to recall the specifics of the attacks, he would feel ashamed, stripping the bed of soiled sheets, removing the very evidence of his abuse in his anxiousness that no one should know what had been done to him.”
It took him to 2007 to go to Lincolnshire Police to complain about Dawson. The police told him that he was not the first to complain about him. They went to arrest Dawson but once he knew about David’s complaint he went into the woods and was found dead with a bullet to the head.. An inquest gave an open verdict.
The case was raised again in 2015 under the Met Police’s Operation Fairbank but because he couldn’t name anyone it was dropped. Lincolnshire Police also re-opened their inquiry but could not progress the case further.
“It felt to David as if he would only be listened to if he could come up with the name of a ‘big-hitter’ to investigate, or else he would need to produce a signed confession from one of his abusers, or perhaps a videotape.”
William van Straubenzee
The second story comes from the late David Weeks, Tory leader of Westminster about the role William van Straubenzee, a Tory minister who was solicitor to the Dolphin Square Trust and also a paedophile. Weeks said van Straubenzee was a gatekeeper to getting a flat in Dolphin Square. Straubenzee himself lived in a grace and favour flat in Lambeth Palace. The authors write, using evidence given to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse:
‘In 1982, MI5 received information that suggested that William van Straubenzee engaged in sexual activities with young boys whilst in Northern Ireland [he had been Northern Ireland minister between 1972 and 1974]. This information was shared with the Cabinet Office, who shared it with the Prime Minister (Margaret Thatcher).’ MI5 confirmed that if this intelligence had been received today, under current policy it would be passed to the police.”
The third story is the most dramatic. The authors write:
“Among the most incendiary evidence of wrongdoing at Dolphin Square came in a statement taken from a former police officer identified only as GB. It was entered into evidence only at the end of the last day of hearings in IICSA’s Westminster investigation and the witness did not appear in person to give evidence, nor were they seemingly provided with questions by the inquiry to which GB would have been legally obligated to give answers. The statement adduced in evidence dated from 20 December 2016 and was given as part of Operation Winter Key, the Metropolitan Police’s investigation into allegations of non-recent abuse.”
He revealed another investigation called Operation Mileshogue.
“GB’s statement was wide ranging. It included allusions to surveillance of a London MP who was suspected of hosting young people overnight in his constituency office. But it also included significant detail of police operations concerning Dolphin Square in the 1990s.”
“MH was … an intelligence gathering operation revolved around a guy called [NAME REDACTED] … He had been a rent boy himself, living in Greenwich at that time. He had a series of young boys. One was [WM-A118] another was (WM-A119] and another 5 or 6. Those boys I interviewed on tape several times. suggested that these children were thirteen or fourteen when they were speaking to them but that their abuses had started when they were as young as 8.] “They claimed one another had been abused by other people, were taken to parties and things by [NAME REDACTED] himself he was like a modern day Fagan [sic]. He also had them doing robberies and burglaries but he was also an informant for the police, inform on them and then turn up as their appropriate adult. These were kids all from local Children’s Home”.
GB then referred to the ‘Fagin-figure’, saying: ‘He also mentioned Dolphin Square he had been there as a child himself, been abused.’ GB discussed how they had made requests for additional investigative resources to senior officers but their requests were repeatedly refused or bounced back as it was ‘too difficult to do at this time’ and ‘we weren’t regarded as a priority of the Paedophile Unit at that time, GB said: ‘They didn’t want to know about a mass operation with loads of kids to interview. They didn’t know how to deal with it.’ I asked the child sex abuse inquiry their reaction to this. A spokesman denied the inquiry had not weighed up GB’s evidence and pointed instead to an inquiry by the Independent Office for Police Conduct into GB’s allegations. and evidence from Met Police Commander Catherine Roper about the operation. She gave evidence on a number of child sex abuse investigations in London to the inquiry.
Whatever the disclosures both the inquiry and the book conclude there was never a specific VIP paedophile ring.
But they do say: “it is fair to conclude from a wealth of evidence, powerful individuals who did abuse children in Dolphin Square and who got away with it because of who they were and who they knew: in other words, they abused because they knew they could.”
Scandal at Dolphin Square: A notorious history . History Press £20
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Yet another disturbing report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse highlights a national failure to tackle gangs sexually exploiting vulnerable children.
The findings of this investigation led me to me to pose the question in the headline. The report’ s conclusion is damning: “Children are sexually exploited by networks in all parts of England and Wales in the most degrading and destructive ways. Each of these acts is a crime. This investigation has revealed extensive failures by local authorities and police forces to keep pace with the pernicious and changing problem of the sexual exploitation of children by networks.”
The question is why. The report took evidence from six diverse areas in England and Wales – Durham, Swansea, Warwickshire, St Helens, Tower Hamlets and Bristol.
What was particularly alarming is that in two – the London borough of Tower Hamlets and Swansea – there was a denial of the existence of any gangs at all. I would really be surprised that such organised gangs did not operate in the borough or elsewhere.
Indeed the report cites two instances where complaints were not taken forward.
“In Swansea, there was a police investigation into serious sexual assault against CS-A25 which led to the arrest of two males but no further action was taken due to evidential difficulties. • In Tower Hamlets, in the case of CS-A22, the child made disclosures of assault and rape but these allegations did not lead to prosecution. Although a number of named potential perpetrators were added to a crime report and suspects database, the report was closed. Some information was passed to the local force but there is no evidence of any arrests.”
Perpetrators finding new way to exploit children
The report says: “Parental neglect, substance misuse, domestic violence or mental health issues may increase the vulnerability of children to sexual exploitation. Around half of the case study children were in care and more than a third had complex disabilities or neurodevelopmental disorders. “It is widely recognised that alcohol, drugs and actual or threatened violence against the child, their friends and family are often used as a means to groom and coerce children. Perpetrators are finding new ways, including through mobile phones and other devices, social media and dating apps, to groom and abuse ever younger children.”
It goes on: “Research suggested that many complainants report dissatisfaction with the responses of local authority staff and police officers to the sexual exploitation they faced and these themes were reflected in some of the experiences of the case study children. Some felt unprotected by care home staff failing to intervene when they knew or suspected that the children were being sexually exploited. Others were frustrated that those who had sexually exploited them were not held accountable through the criminal justice system.”
The report also highlights a worrying lack of data on who the exploiters are which has led people to blame South Asian males behind the gangs because of some high profile cases.
Poor data collection on the ethnicity of perpetrators
The report says: “Some of the high-profile child sexual exploitation prosecutions have involved groups of South Asian males. There has been heated and often polarised debate about whether there is any link between ethnicity and group-based child sexual exploitation. Poor data collection on the ethnicity of perpetrators or victims fuels that debate and makes it difficult to identify whether there is any such link. It also hampers the ability of police and other services to provide culturally sensitive responses, interventions and support.”
The report recommends that the law should be strengthened so that when two or more people found guilty of sexual exploitation they should get an aggravated sentence.. It also wants both English and Welsh guidance strengthened and tool kit to handle sexual exploitation should be updated and strengthened.
Professor Alexis Jay, who chaired the inquiry, said: “The sexual exploitation of children by networks is not a rare phenomenon confined to a small number of areas with high-profile criminal cases.
“We found extensive failures by local authorities and police forces in the ways in which they tackled this sexual abuse.”
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Step will strengthen rights for women and men facing bullies and workplace sexual harassment
Unless any MP objects next month the UK government will start drawing up a submission to the International Labour Organisation to ratify a new convention outlawing violence and harassment at work.
The announcement hardly noticed by anyone was made by Therese Coffey, the work and pensions secretary, in a written answer to Parliament this month. MPs were told if there were no objections within 21 days a ratification submission to the ILO will be drawn up and it will come into force a year later. This will make the UK the tenth nation in the world to ratify this convention and it is the culmination of two years of work following an initiative started under Theresa May when she was PM.
Rare case of political unity
In a rare case of unity in the present polarised world that characterises the UK, the action has all party backing. It has the support of the Westminster Tory government, the Welsh Labour government, the Scottish National and Green Government and the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein Northern Ireland government. It is supported by both the CBI and the TUC and has the strong support of many international NGOs, women’s groups, Care International and the human rights organisations like Amnesty International.
The convention took time to draw up and it is – for an exclusively work orientated convention – remarkably inclusive..
Stephen Russell, policy officer at the TUC, says the convention itself is very broad based and also through ILO procedures means the UK will have to produce reports every two years on how it is being implemented.
The convention covers “persons working irrespective of their contractual status, persons in training, including interns and apprentices, workers whose employment has been terminated, volunteers, jobseekers and job applicants, and individuals exercising the authority, duties or responsibilities of an employer.”
It is also covers not just the workplace but also work related trips, accommodation provided by employers, harassment on social media, office parties and other work related social activities and commuting from home to work.
According to the TUC and the government the UK had a big role in drawing up the scope of the convention. One of the leading figures was Amanda Brown, deputy general secretary of the National Education Union , which represents teachers. She is on the governing body of the ILO and was on the committee that drew up the scope of the convention.
Therese Coffey said that the government already has the legal framework to meet the requirements of the convention in both criminal and civil law but proposed to go further following recent consultations on sexual harassment in the workplace.
She said she would introduce ” a new proactive duty requiring employers to take steps to prevent their employees from experiencing sexual harassment and introducing explicit protections for employees from harassment by third parties, for example customers and clients.”
The issue of sexual harassment and violence against women has been highlighted lately in the police and Parliament where one former Tory MP. Charles Elphicke, was jailed for assaulting a member of his staff, The House of Lords has also introduced compulsory training for peers after some were accused of harassing women, including Parliamentary staff.
Only Fiji and Uruguay have ratified this, Namibia is next
So far internationally only two countries, Fiji and Uruguay, have ratified it. Another seven countries are in the process of ratifying it, including Greece, Italy, Namibia, Somalia, Ecuador, Argentina and Mauritius. Namibia will ratify it from December 9.
While the UK has ratified four UN conventions covering the rights of the child, eliminating all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW), racial discrimination, and the rights of the disabled, but has not introduced all encompassing laws to implement the conventions.
When Scotland tried to implement in full the ratified UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Boris Johnson instructed lawyers to go to the Supreme Court to block the move and succeeded. Similarly the government is not keen on implementing CEDAW in full with a Women’s Rights Bill.
Jocelynne Stutt, president and patron of CEDAW in Law, said: ” This is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough in sexual harassment cases. There is harassment of tenants by landlords, there is rampant harassment of students in education, and sexual harassment in the home. None of this is covered by the new convention and the UK has not ratified the Istanbul Convention which comprehensively covers sexual harassment and violence towards women.”
Child Sex Abuse Inquiry keeps private more detailed report to protect victims
Another coruscating report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has condemned Leicestershire Police and Leicestershire County Council for their handling of allegations from survivors of abuse.
Following damning reports by the inquiry into Rochdale, the London borough of Lambeth, the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, a picture is now emerging across many parts of England of failures among the police, social services and the churches to tackle this problem with thousands of survivors being let down by authorities that should have protected them.
The national press and the BBC have rightly highlighted the failures of the police and the council to adequately investigate claims by survivors yet again in cases of historic child sexual abuse.
However it is in the mind blowing detail of the report that exposes how incompetent the police and council were in handling the investigations. It reveals a picture of quarrelling under resourced police officers, hiding of key evidence, and a difference of approach to investigations into a VIP figure, Lord Janner, from other less prominent people.
The report shows there were two separate police investigations into child sexual abuse by Leicestershire Police – one in 2000 Operation Magnolia – into abuse at two children’s homes and the second -Operation Dauntless in 2005 – into specific complaints against Greville Janner. The first also involved Lord Janner though it was mainly directed at suspected staff in the homes.
The initial budget for the first operation was just £10,000- and it kept being paused as investigating officers were put on other police work including murders.
The inquiry reports: “Detective Constable (DC) Nigel Baraclough, one of the team of officers involved in Operation Magnolia, told us that the Operation was a low-priority investigation, allocated to the least experienced SIO[senior investigating officer]and Deputy SIO, and was poorly staffed. The Operation was classed as a Category C investigation, the lowest of three gradings for a major investigation.”
During the investigation two residents alleged they had been sexually assaulted by Lord Janner which would normally trigger a reference to the assistant chief constable. This does not appear to be have been done and one officer thought the allegations were “lies”. Lord Janner was never interviewed. Nor were the two cases ever referred to the Crown Prosecution Service. The rest of the allegations against staff of physical or sexual abuse led to no prosecutions by the CPS. The statements given by the two children against Lord Janner were locked away in a drawer at Market Harborough Police Station.
They only resurfaced after fresh allegations were made against Lord Janner in 2005 when Operation Dauntless was launched. Even then no attempt was made to reinvestigate them or even find out whether the children were still alive. Officers argued whether Lord Janner should be arrested and his home searched.
“Staggering, bewildering and disappointing” a policeman’s verdict
Detective Sergeant Swift-Rollinson told the inquiry it was “incredible that an individual such as Lord Janner should be treated any differently by not interviewing him, not arresting and searching” his properties. He stated that the fact that Lord Janner “was not allowed the opportunity to dispel those allegations or provide a reasonable account is staggering, bewildering and disappointing”.
This time the CPS was informed but before any further investigations took place. The CPS advised not to interview Lord Janner or pursue this any further. The inquiry describes the view as complacent. The case was wound down despite protests from some officers.
It was not until 2012 when Leicestershire Police launched a further investigation, Project Enamel, that Lord Janner was finally charged when 33 former children came forward. By then Lord Janner was not well and died before any trial could take place.
This has left a situation where all the complainants have no resolution to what happened to them and Lord Janner’s family are left denying the charges but cannot challenge them in court. Daniel Janner, his son, has however been wrong in trying to stop the inquiry investigating the circumstances as this report will remain a permanent guide on how not to investigate child sexual abuse cases. Without it other police forces could be tempted yet again to dismiss such allegations.
One issue the inquiry has decided I find rather difficult. This comes from the decision to produce two reports – an expurgated report-now published – and a much longer and more detailed unexpurgated report. The inquiry’s explanation is that they have to protect the anonymity of those who allege were sexually abused for life. They did not answer my questions on whether the survivors will see the report, whether they also took this decision to prevent any litigation from Lord Janner’s family who have been opposed to the inquiry and would find the details of the allegations pretty damning.
A spokesman told me: “In order to protect the identity of complainants, who are entitled to lifelong anonymity under the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992, a part of the public hearing for this investigation was held in closed session, reflecting the necessity for a restricted report. The Inquiry took steps to ensure that as much evidence was heard in public as possible, and the same approach was taken in regard to the unrestricted report. Whilst the restricted report cannot be publicly published due to anonymity issues, it will still be used by the Chair and Panel to inform findings and any recommendations they choose to make in the Final Report. ”
Chair to the Inquiry Professor Alexis Jay said:“Despite numerous serious allegations against the late Lord Janner, police and prosecutors appeared reluctant to fully investigate the claims against him. On multiple occasions police put too little emphasis on looking for supporting evidence and shut down investigations without pursuing all outstanding enquiries.”
“It was a similar picture for Leicestershire County Council, which had a sorry record of failures in relation to the sexual abuse of children in its care over several decades. A number of council staff had concerns about Lord Janner’s association with a particular child in residential care, and further enquiries should have been carried out.”
“This investigation has brought up themes we are now extremely familiar with, such as deference to powerful individuals, the barriers to reporting faced by children and the need for institutions to have clear policies and procedures setting out how to respond to allegations of child sexual abuse, regardless of the prominence of the alleged abuser.”
With the horrendous murder of Sarah Everard by a serving Met police officer dominating the headlines by coincidence the government’s benefit watchdog this weekend released minutes of a meeting with officials from the Department for Work and Pensions on tackling domestic abuse.
The little known Social Security Advisory Committee was examining new regulations from the ministry due to come into law on payments and help for victims (usually women) of domestic abuse.
You might not think the DWP would have any role in domestic violence but actually it can help by removing benefit penalties and also open the door to money to improve security measures in a victim’s home.
The ministry must have been pretty tardy in doing anything about this as the reason for the new regulations stemmed from a government defeat at the European Court of Human Rights.
At the centre of this case was the much loathed ” bedroom tax ” where 14 per cent of your housing benefit payment can be clawed back if you have more bedrooms than you need.
Women who throw out an abusive partner or grown up member of the family could find themselves liable for this ” tax” if they want to stay in the family home. This regulation exempts them.
No relief from benefit penalties if you are pursued by a stalker
But as the committee found it is a pretty narrow concession. If you are being abused by a stranger or a stalker you can’t escape the penalty. The ministry has decided they are not ” family” even if they are being as violent or frightening as any member of the family.
And it only applies if you live a council house or flat – is you live in private rented accommodation you have to apply for a discretionary housing payment – and given it is discretionary you may not get it. And that applies whether it is family or a stalker.
That’s why I think the change is half hearted and half baked -designed to help a minimum number of people.
But the meeting also disclosed much more. To qualify for these payments and removal of penalties you have to enrol in a sanctuary scheme. This is service which can protect you in your home -by installing extra locks, fireproof letterboxes and in some cases a ” panic room” with a reinforced door where you can flee from attack from an abusive partner or intruder and call the police.
But guess what? The onus is on the claimant to find out about the sanctuary scheme – not on the Department to tell them about it. Just like the millions of 50swomen over their pensions and the millions of people opted out of SERPS who have lost out on a guaranteed minimum pension, the ministry is not bothered to ensure they know. Both of these issues led to rulings of ” maladministration” against the ministry by the Parliamentary Ombudsman.
Department for Work and Pensions hasn’t a clue
But it is even worse than that. The ministry hasn’t a clue how many people are in sanctuary schemes because there is no central record.
Only next year will local authorities have a duty to collect this information but otherwise it is being left to charities, the police and other bodies to tell claimants. The minutes say: “A number of ways to identify claimants in scope of the measure were attempted – requests were made to local authorities, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Home Office – but the information is not available”
Details of the sanctuary scheme are here – it is aimed at charities.
Such a situation has led the chair of the committee, Stephen Brien, to write to the DWP:
“Given the vulnerable situations of those affected, there is a compelling case for the Department to examine what options exist in terms of proactively identifying those potentially affected. This should be supplemented by a strong communications strategy that sets out clearly the criteria for this exemption, along with guidance on how to access it.” “There is a risk that a number of claimants entitled to take advantage of this scheme, particularly those who have already benefitted from a sanctuary scheme security adaptation prior to these regulations coming into force, will be unaware of this change.
” A number of claimants will be unaware “-Stephen Brien
“Given the vulnerable situations within which this group finds itself, there is potential risk of harm should these claimants remain unaware of the support available to them resulting in their leaving a home where additional security has been installed.”
He also said the definition of who could escape the penalty was too narrow and should be extended to stalkers and that there was not enough being done to support people in private rented accommodation.
“The narrow focus adopted by the Department could lead to inconsistent treatment of people at risk of violence because their circumstances fall outside of those defined by the regulations.”
The SSAC has not formally objected to the new regulation but is seeking some improvements.
This seems to be yet another example of the ministry not informing people of their rights and in this case in an area where public concern has been heightened by the issue of male violence makes it doubly important that something is done. Will the DWP do it though?
After some highly critical reports into the cover-up of appalling child sexual abuse in the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse has now produced a new report into other faith organisations in England and Wales – notably Muslim and Orthodox Jewish faith groups, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It also covers a wide range of other faiths from the Methodists and Baptists to Buddhism and Sikh religions.
The report contains more horrific tales of abuse by people in charge of these organisations, their denial and cover up of what is happening, their failure to safeguard vulnerable children and the lack of measures to ensure proper inspection of the schools they run.
Worse of all after holding this inquiry the IICSA reveals that they don’t know the extent of the problem in these faith organisations because a number of them don’t want to co-operate with state institutions. Even police forces don’t keep records of how many recorded child sex abuse cases there have been in these faith organisations. And some of them even don’t carry out basic security checks on the people they employ to make sure they do not have criminal records.
Abuse at an Orthodox Jewish community
Examples of the horrific abuse stories include Todros Grynhaus, a prominent member of the Charedi Jewish community in Manchester and a Rabbi’s son. He sexually abused over 20 years two girls and a boy – one girl regularly between the age of seven and 15. Only when one of the girls went to Israel and told a rabbi there did the abuse become known and Grynghaus was offered counselling. Two years later when she was 18 she told prominent Jewish members of the Charedi community and was offered £5000 compensation and told not to go to the police or she would be regarded as a Moiser – what we know as a snitch – by informing on another Jew. When he faced charges Grynghaus fled the country on a forged passport and had to be extradited from Israel. Eventually the case did go to court and Grynghaus in 2015 was sentenced to 13 years in jail. But only after one of the rabbis was compelled by a judge to give evidence.
Abuse at a Muslim Madrassah school
Another example involved years of abuse at a Muslim madrassah school -held in a home- of a girl from the age of the age of eight to 11 by the 16 year old teenage son of the family ending in her rape. When she told of the case at the age of 14 she was abused as ” a tart” and a “slag” by the Muslim community who did not want the boy’s family disgraced. Eventually it did go to court and he went to prison for a year.
Four year old girl sexually abused at a Jehovah’s Witnesses Bible class
Another example involved the sexual abuse of two young girls by a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses during Bible classes. One of the girls was as young as four and the abuse continued until she was nine. Peter Stewart was a ministerial servant in Kingdom Hall responsible for the organisation. He was arrested in 1994 when another person accused him of sexual assault. The girl did not tell her mother for six years about the sexual abuse and only decided to tell her after he was released from prison for the first offence. By the time the police got around to arresting him, he had died. The mother pursued a civil claim against the Jehovah’s Witnesses and won the case – despite the organisation fighting the claim.
The report goes into detail about the failure of many faith organisations to protect and train people in safeguarding and take the issue seriously rather than try and cover it up. In the three cases above the organisations tried to cover up what had happened and not take responsibility.
Two immediate recommendations
The report makes two immediate recommendations . They are that all religious organisations should have a child protection policy and supporting procedures;
and that the government should legislate to amend the definition of full-time education to bring any setting that is the pupil’s primary place of education within the scope of a registered school, and provide Ofsted with sufficient powers to examine the quality of child protection when undertaking inspection of suspected unregistered schools.
It estimates that 250,000 children are given supplementary education by faith organisations and none of the schools need to be registered or inspected.
They also have some long term proposals that will appear in a further report. These include whether mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse should be introduced; whether criminal checks should be compulsory for all faith organisations; and whether child protection policies should be compulsory for every faith organisation.
“Religious organisations are defined by their moral purpose of teaching right from wrong and protection of the innocent and the vulnerable. However when we heard about shocking failures to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse across almost all major religions, it became clear many are operating in direct conflict with this mission.
“Blaming the victims, fears of reputational damage and discouraging external reporting are some of the barriers victims and survivors face, as well as clear indicators of religious organisations prioritising their own reputations above all else. For many, these barriers have been too difficult to overcome.”
“We have seen some examples of good practice, and it is our hope that with the recommendations from this report, all religious organisations across England and Wales will improve what they do to fulfil their moral responsibility to protect children from sexual abuse.”
The independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse today published its worst ever findings of the scale of child sexual abuse in the United Kingdom. It looks like large numbers of paedophiles got away with the mass sexual abuse of children.
An investigation into Lambeth Council’s children in care revealed that over 700 children had alleged they had been sexually abused and treated as worthless by council staff. And this is certainly an underestimate. The scandal continued from the 1960s right through to the late 1990s.
The report which only looked at five of the council’s closed homes makes incredibly grim reading. The report said:
Cruelty and sexual abuse ” hard to comprehend”
“It is hard to comprehend the cruelty and sexual abuse inflicted on children in the care of Lambeth Council over many years, by staff, by foster carers and their families, and by volunteers in residential settings. With one or two exceptions, a succession of elected members and senior professionals ought to have been held accountable for allowing this to happen, either by their active commission or complicit omission. Lambeth Council was only able to identify one senior Council employee, over the course of 40 years, who was disciplined for their part in this catalogue of sexual abuse.”
It goes on: “By June 2020, Lambeth Council was aware of 705 former residents of three children’s homes in this investigation (Shirley Oaks, South Vale and Angell Road) who have made complaints of sexual abuse. The biggest of these homes – Shirley Oaks – was the subject of allegations against 177 members of staff or individuals connected with the home, involving at least 529 former residents. It was closed in 1983.
“Frontline staff employed to care for these most vulnerable children frequently failed to take action when they knew about sexual abuse. In so many cases they showed little warmth or compassion towards the child victims, who were left to cope with the trauma of their abuse on their own.
Hostile and abusive treatment of black children
…”There were many black children in Lambeth Council’s care. In Shirley Oaks in 1980, 57 percent of children in its care were black. During 1990 and 1991, 85 percent of children who lived at South Vale were black. Racism was evident in their hostile and abusive treatment by some staff.
” Shirley Oaks and South Vale were brutal places where violence and sexual assault were allowed to flourish. Angell Road systematically exposed children (including those under the age of five years) to sexual abuse.
“Nor did foster care routinely provide a safe alternative for children in care. For many years, foster carers were not adequately vetted by the Council and were not the subject of criminal record checks.”
Some of the cases described are horrendous.
Children screaming at night while they were raped
“LA-A307 was taken to Shirley Oaks at the age of nine. He described hearing other children screaming at night and he himself routinely experienced violence and sexual assault, including being photographed whilst being raped.
LA-A147 was in the care of Lambeth Council in the 1990s and 2000s, from the age of three. Over ten years, she was placed in nine children’s homes and with four sets of foster carers. She described being raped by a foster carer’s teenage son at the age of nine, and was also frequently sexually abused by older men she met whilst in care. By the age of 13, she had developed a drug addiction and was “selling herself” to fund it.
LA-A2 was found dead in a bathroom at Shirley Oaks in 1977. Lambeth Council did not inform the coroner that he had alleged being sexually abused by Donald Hosegood, his ‘house father’. In the course of Hosegood’s employment at Shirley Oaks, six out of eight children looked after by him and his wife alleged sexual abuse by him.
LA-A7 described sexual abuse by three male members of staff, including two from South Vale. Two of them separately photographed him at their private homes when he was either naked or wearing only his underwear. One of them, Leslie Paul, was convicted of indecent assaults against LA-A7.”
Only six perpetrators prosecuted
Extraordinarily just SIX people have been successfully prosecuted by the police, meaning that hundreds of people must have got away with the vile sexual abuse of children.
All this took place against a background of fraud, corruption, racism, nepotism by both staff and some councillors. Those who tried to stop it were intimidated and threatened. The report shows even two chief executives, Herman Ouseley and Henry Gilby were the subject of intimidation.
“Lord Ouseley described how both his office and home were ‘bugged’ at the instigation of one of his own staff. He also received threats to his family. Mr Gilby’s office was the subject of a serious arson attack. His home and office were broken into and computer records were stolen during a time when he was attempting to deal with corrupt practices. Dame Heather Rabbatts was Chief Executive from 1995 to 2000. She described how she inherited a Council with a culture of “fear and sexism and racism”. No witness identified which individuals or groups were the driving force behind this vicious and regressive culture, but there was little doubt that a succession of leading elected members were mainly responsible, aided and abetted in some instances by self-serving senior officials.”
The inquiry has decided to ask the Met Police to investigate whether there are grounds for a criminal investigation into Lambeth Council’s actions when providing information to the coroner about the circumstances surrounding LA-A2’s death.
Richard Scorer, specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, who is representing the sister of a teenage boy who killed himself in a care home after making allegations of abuse against staff member Donald Hosegood, told Mail On Line: ‘It is clear from today’s report that Lambeth Council deliberately withheld information from the coroner in order to give the impression that our client’s brother was happy in care.”
All in all this report shows why it was necessary to have a full scale inquiry into child sexual abuse – which despite naysayers trying to deny the extent of the problem – was obviously rampant in some parts of the country. The council has apologised .The real tragedy is that so many people have got away with it leaving their victims with broken lives.