Revealed:The over budget safeguarding system that doesn’t know if your kids are safe from sexual predators

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Disclosure and Barring Service Pic Credit: gov.uk

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Another day, another waste of taxpayer’s money on a scheme run by private contractors that was meant to cut costs for employers but has ended up with a huge unforeseen bill for the taxpayer.

While the privatised part of the probation service has had to be bailed out by the Justice ministry, at the same time the Home Office is having to pay out hundreds of millions of pounds to keep on track the digitalisation of the Disclosure and Barring Service.

This is the service that provides proof that people working with children do not have criminal records, and aren’t paedophiles so children and vulnerable adults can be safe. The service -like many others- had been run by Capita.

The government in 2012 decided to digitalise the service – promising big savings for employers, and a new updating service transferring the cost to the person seeking the job.

By this year the Home Office thought the number of disclosure certificates needed by employers would drop by a massive 67 per cent as 2.8 million people  seeking work with children would pay out £13 a year for an update of their certificate negating the need for new certificates. The cost of certificates to employers was expected to be cut.

As a National Audit Office report  released recently shows nothing of the sort happened.

Instead only 900,000 people decided to do this. Why? Because normally the employer pays for the certificate so it costs the applicant nothing.

As a result the NAO says: “The update service is losing DBS £9 for every sale. DBS’s 2016-17 Annual Report and Accounts report that the update service costs DBS £22 but is priced at £13 per paying applicant per year. ”

Then the 2,250 profit making firms who check the identities – from GB Group plc and  Atlantic Data Ltd to Capita Resourcing Ltd. make much more money from processing full certificates than checking updates. So they never promoted the service on their websites.

But there was far worse to come. The government appointed Tata to modernise the service and  build a new IT system  and then promptly changed the specification of what was needed. This resulted in delays and led to a one year extension for Capita which was running the service. Payouts totalling £26m had to be made to Tata for the delays and changes.

And then costs rocketed by £229 million and it is now three and half years late. Bizarrely because people have not switched  to the update service the DBS has got extra income worth £304m. Tata and Capita are still making profits. Rewards for failure at a cost to employers.

So who lost out? First employers who were promised cheaper bills – each certificate costs them £56.

But also us. There is one thing the DBS don’t do. After supplying the information about a potential employee, they never check whether the employer does disbar him or her. Since the whole point of this huge process is to protect children and vulnerable adults from predators and violent abusers you might have thought they would check up.

And given the current fashion where people who claim to be sexually abused might not be believed or labelled fantasists – I don’t think we should wait for a horrible incident to find out.

 

 

 

IMPRESS reject arbitration and compensation claim from ex MP over Esther Baker investigation story on this blog

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Esther Baker

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The press regulator, Impress, has refused a request for arbitration and compensation from former Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming, over an article published on this blog last September when the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to  issue criminal proceedings against the ex MP and two other people over allegations of child sex abuse from Esther Baker.

The article reported, almost in full, statements issued by Staffordshire Police and the ex MP after the decision was announced by the CPS. The CPS concluded there was ” insufficient evidence ” to proceed, the ex MP said he had been the subject of false allegations.

Since then Esther Baker has appealed the CPS decision and a ruling is expected some time in the autumn.

This blog is not directly covered by the regulator, IMPRESS, but because I cross post articles on the independent platform, Byline, it is indirectly covered since Byline has agreed to be regulated by IMPRESS.

IMPRESS’S regulatory committee ruled  that the article  on its own could not been seen  as Mr Hemming claimed as ” harassment”. And it dismissed his claim for compensation by saying that any  alleged harm caused to Mr Hemming  by this article was ” trivial ” and ” too insignificant to meet the  test ” for a claim.

For the record  and to prevent other people putting  any spin on this decision this is the text of the ruling sent to Byline:

“I am writing to advise you that an IMPRESS Regulatory Committee recently met to consider John Hemming’s request for arbitration. Having carefully considered his request in accordance with the IMPRESS procedures they have decided that the request is not suitable for arbitration under the CIArb/IMPRESS Arbitration Scheme. The reasons for their decision are set out below.

Reasons for Board arbitration suitability decision:

Rule 8.3 of the IMPRESS Regulatory Scheme requires the Board to make an administrative assessment of whether a claim is covered by the scheme. For the avoidance of doubt, this decision is not based on an assessment of the merits of a claim.
Rule 46 of the Regulatory Scheme Procedures provides six administrative criteria that need to be satisfied before a claim can be accepted under the scheme.

The Board considered each of these in turn:
(i) The claim is made against a publisher regulated by IMPRESS.
The Committee was satisfied that the claim was made against a publisher (Byline) that was regulated by IMPRESS at the time of the act complained of (6 September 2017).
(ii) The claim is related to one of the areas of law covered by the scheme.
The Committee was satisfied that the claim related to an area of law covered by the scheme, namely defamation and harassment. With regards to the claim for harassment however, though this related to one of the areas covered by the scheme, the Committee determined that the claim for harassment did not satisfy the relevant test. This was because, under a claim for harassment, a ‘course of conduct’ required two or more events to be characterised as such. The claimant therefore could not bring a claim against the publisher for the publication of one article.
(iii) The claim is not a pre-publication matter where it is appropriate for it to be directed to the courts.
The Committee was satisfied that the claim did not relate to a pre-publication matter where it was appropriate for it to be directed to the courts.
(iv) The claim provides a clear statement setting out the harm or financial loss suffered by the claimant.
The Committee was not satisfied that the claim clearly set out the harm or financial loss that the claimant had suffered as a result of the published article. It noted that the claimant largely relied on the fact that the article was part of a wider campaign against him which he accepted that Byline was not a party to.
(v) The claim describes a specific action or activity of a publisher that has caused the alleged harm or financial loss.
The Committee was not satisfied that the claimant adequately described how it was the article published by Byline that caused the alleged harm and loss to the claimant. This is because, although the claimant identified specific harm and loss caused by the ‘wider campaign’, the claimant failed to specify any harm or loss which arose as a direct result of the article published by Byline. The Committee determined that any harm or loss caused to the claimant by the publisher was trivial or incidental in conjunction with the remainder, and was thus too insignificant to meet the test.
(vi) The claimant explains why the complaint is not suitable for resolution by the IMPRESS complaints procedure.
The Committee accepted that given that (i) the complaint did not, on the face of it, appear to engage the Standards Code and (ii) the claimant sought financial compensation as a remedy, it was not suitable for resolution by the IMPRESS complaints procedure.
In conclusion, the Committee decided that the claimant’s request for arbitration should be refused on the grounds that parts (iv) and (v) of the test were not met.

Elm Guest House: Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry to probe whether there was a conspiracy or cover up

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Elm Guest House in Barnes, south west London

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Often it is the conspiracy and the cover up that is worse than the  original scandal.  I am not sure whether that will apply to the notorious Elm Guest House in Richmond, south west London if it really was a mecca for child sexual abuse as well as a bed and breakfast for consenting gay couples.

However the decision of the independent inquiry to focus on this as one of six major strands of the Westminster investigations  into alleged paedophile activity next year is very welcome.

The inquiry is also being careful to avoid findings of fact on whether any of the survivors and complainants were sexually abused or not by concentrating on whether there were cover ups when people reported sexual abuse in the 1980s and 1990s.

That is why it is good that the inquiry has accepted Esther Baker as both a complainant and a campaigner against child sexual abuse to  be a  core participant in the inquiry.

It does not mean that the inquiry  – as was made clear today  -takes a view on whether she was sexually abused by prominent people  but it does confer a status on her long standing and very outspoken campaign against sexual abusers.

It is worth  quoting the six main strands. The first is improper influence of police investigations.

On  Elm Guest House Mr Andrew O’Conner, counsel for the inquiry, said :

“A number of retired police officers have claimed that they# were indeed ‘warned off’ investigating possible cases of child sexual abuse committed by senior politicians in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Several of these cases are linked to the Elm Guest House affair, which was itself the subject of investigation by the Metropolitan Police in its Operations Fairbank and Fernbridge. The claims that have been made are claims of conspiracy and cover up, and we submit that they go to the heart of the Inquiry’s work in this investigation.”

The second is improper influence by politicians.

“Have there been cases in which prosecutorial decisions in child sexual abuse cases have been the subject of improper influence from within the Westminster establishment? Questions of this nature relating to Cyril Smith were raised in the Rochdale investigation; we propose that you should pursue those questions in this investigation.

“Similar questions also arise in relation to prosecution decisions taken in at least two other cases – those of Peter Hayman and Victor Montague. We submit that those cases also should be investigated. And it is possible that the disclosure exercise that we are currently undertaking will raise similar questions in relation to other cases.”

The third is whether political parties were involved in improper decisions or ignored allegations. “What, for example, did the leadership of the Liberal Party know about the allegations against Cyril Smith?

Did they take those allegations seriously, and did they react appropriately?

“Similar questions have been raised about the way in which allegations relating to Peter Morrison were dealt with within the Conservative Party.

And how did the Westminster establishment generally react to efforts made to shine a light on child sexual abuse and associated institutional failings? I have already mentioned the well-known allegations relating to the Elm Guest House – they clearly touch on these issues.”

Then there are the role of government  and opposition whips – did they know about theses scandals and what did they do about it.

” Is it possible that on occasions in the past the Whips may have received allegations of child sexual abuse made against politicians in their own party, and then failed to report those allegations, or to take any other appropriate steps?

Is it possible,indeed, that the Whips may have taken active steps to conceal such allegations – in part to avoid embarrassing publicity and in part to gain a hold over the politician in question? ”

And there is the role of the honours system.

“Concerns have been expressed publicly about honours granted to individuals who had been accused of child sexual abuse, or where allegations of this nature were made after the honour had been granted.

Prominent amongst the cases that have raised concern are the knighthoods that were awarded to Cyril Smith and to Jimmy Savile.
We submit that the Inquiry should examine these matters.

We propose to investigate what policies have been and are followed in cases where candidates for honours havebeen the subject of allegations of this nature.

We will look at all relevant records, including those relating to Smith and Savile.”

Finally the lawyers want to investigate the Paedophile Information Exchange.

Mr O’Connor said this :

“The key issues of public concern in relation to PIE are its membership, which appears to have included senior members of the Westminster Establishment, and the suggestion that the organisation may have been funded by the government.

“These matters have already been the subject of a review commissioned by the Home Office and by a further independent review of that work by Peter Wanless and Richard Whittam QC. The original review found no evidence that PIE was funded by the Home Office’s Voluntary Service Unit (VSU), and Wanless and Whittam subsequently found nothing in registered files or in testimony offered by contemporaries in and around the VSU that funding of PIE might have taken place with the knowledge of the police or security services as part of an effort to infiltrate PIE. But Wanless and Whittam were not able to dismiss the latter suggestion entirely, and we submit that this investigation should explore public concern about the alleged position and influence of PIE members within Westminster, while mindful of the reviews which have already taken place into these matters.”

Interestingly only the Labour Party has applied for core participant status while these investigations take place. I am rather surprised that neither the Liberal Democrats nor the Conservative Party have applied – are they ignoring the implications of this inquiry or  do they not want to be questioned about it?

Of course some people notably Daniel Janner, the QC son of the late Greville Janner, who faced allegations of child sexual abuse, believe everything that happened involving prominent people in Westminster is the product of fantasists. While I can understand his determination to protect the reputation of his father, his sweeping generalisation exonerating everyone in Westminster is absurd. Would he defend Sir Cyril Smith and say it is all lies?

He tried to get core participant status yesterday – but it seemed only aimed to brand everyone complainant or survivor as a fantasist.

Child sex abuse:How Lady Macur exonerated the Waterhouse inquiry over convicted paedophile Gordon Anglesea

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Lady Macur

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Gordon Anglesea: Now a dead convicted paedophile Pic Credit: BBC and John Price

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While the political world was convulsed over Brexit  Whitehall decided to remove one of  the major redactions in last year’s report by Lady Macur, an appeal judge, which reviewed the inquiry undertaken by Sir Ronald Waterhouse  in the 1990s into the scandal of child sex abuse in North Wales.

The redaction involves her investigation and findings into the  tribunal’s role  in investigating  Gordon Anglesea, a retired North Wales police superintendent, convicted of sexually abusing two teenage boys in October last year.

He is the superintendent who won £375,000 damages in 1994 ina libel case against two national newspapers, The Observer and the Independent on Sunday, the magazine Private Eye and HTV, the holder of the ITV franchise in Wales. His legal costs were underwritten by the Police Federation.

Anglesea claimed the four media organisations had accused him of being a child abuser during visits he made to the Bryn Estyn children’s home just outside Wrexham. He denied it and jury found for Anglesea.

The recent death of Anglesea – which meant he can’t appeal  his conviction last year- allows him to be named in her report for the first time. And the findings are interesting given the subsequent conviction of Anglesea by Operation Pallial, the National Crime Agency’s investigation and also the libel case in 1994.

The references to Anglesea are in the chapter on freemasonry. She examines the investigation carried out by the Witness Interviewing Team (WIT). This was headed  by Reginald Briggs, a retired Detective Chief Inspector who had served in the South Wales police force and was a Freemason.  She sees no conflict in  the tribunal employing a freemason to investigate another freemason. Gordon Anglesea was also a freemason.

“This Review has specifically considered whether there is anything within the material which suggests that the investigations made on behalf of the Tribunal into freemasonry was less thorough by reason of this fact. I have found nothing to suggest this was the case and illustrate the point below predominately in relation to two establishment figures identified during the course of the Tribunal as Freemasons, namely Gordon Anglesea and Lord Kenyon,” [ Lord Kenyon was a Provincial Grand Master, and a member of the North Wales Police Authority in the 1980s]

She accepts that one  survivor witness against Anglesea was difficult to trace and when finally contacted mentioned other people not him. Another witness who was in prison is described as ” fixated by Anglesea’s and his alleged involvement in a
paedophile ring.”

“The statement produced records his assertions that in 1991 he had seen part of a video featuring  Anglesea sexually abusing a boy and girl.

“The video had allegedly been stolen from a local Councillor subsequently prosecuted for
possession of a large quantity of pornography.

“He said he developed photographs from the video and sent them anonymously to the Chief Constable of the NWP.”

The tribunal concluded this witness was not credible and he was never called.

A lot of time was spent tracing people who might know Anglesea and about his visits to Bryn  Estyn including finding one freemason in the same lodge but he said he only knew him by sight.

The report adds: “However, more than one contributor to this Review still question whether enough was done to find evidence against Anglesea or to properly examine the links between freemasonry and the failure to investigate child abuse allegations.”

The inquiry was hampered by one witnesses refusing to give a statement and another witness was deemed to be unreliable despite evidence of Anglesea helping the notorious paedophile Peter Howarth, who ran the home and was subsequently jailed, line up boys. The tribunal was not certain whether he was there at the time.

She does add one very interesting piece of evidence that was witheld from the tribunal.

“I am aware that an allegation of a relatively minor indecent assault was made against Anglesea by an adult acquaintance of his family prior to the commencement of the Tribunal hearings.

“It appears that Counsel to the Tribunal was informed that “the CPS had decided to take no further action in the case on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to support criminal proceedings”, but apparently not of the fact that Anglesea had lied, on his own subsequent admission, when first interviewed under caution about the allegation.”

…” I wrote to the present Chief Constable of the NWP on 15 May 2015 in relation to this
non disclosure. The Chief Constable responded indicating that there is no material
in the possession of the NWP to indicate why the file was not disclosed, but that it is
possible that the file’s relevance to the issue of credibility was overlooked.

She concludes:”I regard the evidence that had lied when first interviewed under caution about the allegation of indecent assault against an adult acquaintance of the family was relevant to the issue of his credibility.

Counsel to the Tribunal do not appear to have been made aware of this fact and would have been at a disadvantage in justifying their request for disclosure. It is likely that the NWP overlooked the issue of credibility in favour of considering whether the facts of the
alleged offence constituted similar fact evidence.

“This information may have been significant in the Tribunal’s appraisal of his credibility and would have been ‘fresh’ evidence to that which had been available in the libel trial.”

In other words in a civil case which ended up  with the media paying out £375,000 damages – the fact that Anglesea was a proven liar could have swayed the jury to bring in a different verdict.

Her overall verdict is to exonerate the Tribunal. And she is not in favour of further reviews of other tribunals covering child  sex abuse and certainly not a public inquiry. She does not accept there were any paedophile rings involving Freemasons and VIPs- witholding the information from the public.

She is in favour of thorough police investigations – and perhaps mindful that the police might secure a conviction after her report- hedges her bets on this saying police investigations are better at solving complaints than public inquiries.

Her one other recommendation suggests the police should look at the perversion of course of justice and malfeasance in public office.

She concludes:

“In general, I would advise caution in embarking upon a review of the workings of previous tribunals or boards of inquiry without a considered opinion of the time likely to be involved and the consequent outcome to be achieved.

” The conclusions of a rapid investigation into a broad and complex topic will be unlikely to allay the concerns and anxieties of interested parties or the public in general.

“An exhaustive review will produce results that may no longer be relevant to the circumstances which initiated the investigation.

“In any event, it should be appreciated that the conclusions of any such body will not meet with universal approval. Those with an interest, personal or otherwise, will seek
justification for their views and be unlikely to accept the contrary.”

A very Establishment view, Lady Macur. The full report and written statement from Alun Cairns, the Wales Secretary is here.

 

Paul Settle: a tragic case of a traumatised former senior Met police officer who is lashing out at politicians and child abuse survivors

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Detective Chief Inspector Paul Settle giving evidence to Parliament

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Paul Settle, the former head of Met Police’ paedophile unit,, has given two interviews to the media in the last few days.

In the first to the BBC he describes how he has quit the Met at the very young age of 44 because he is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after a career as a high flying policeman.

He told the BBC:”Most of my career was dealing with serious crime and it was not uncommon for me to see things that most people would regard as horrific. I’ve probably dealt with 100 murders,” he says.

But eventually things which had happened years before started to haunt him – an IRA bomb attack in Wood Green, London in 1992 and his work to help identify and repatriate Britons killed in the 2004 Thailand tsunami.

“It is really difficult to understand because for the best part of 20 years it never affected me, then out of nowhere it started to affect me in a very nasty and intrusive way.”

He started to have nightmares where he would wake up feeling the heat from the bomb blast.

“In the case of the tsunami, I could smell the bodies when I woke up. It was quite a rapid descent. You begin to dread going to sleep so you stay up later.”

He says he initially turned to alcohol to help him get to sleep, but quickly found that made matters worse so sought intensive treatment instead to try to help him overcome debilitating symptoms which he says have reduced him to a shadow of his former self.

Even after treatment he still finds it hard to go out or be in a crowd.

Sirens and some loud noises can trigger gut wrenching and exhausting episodes of hyper arousal, an intense anxiety which can last for weeks on end.

“On two occasions I was preparing to kill myself. But whilst I was at my lowest point I decided I needed to try to make the best of a bad situation. I don’t think I’ll ever recover fully.”

One would feel extremely sorry for him – if not for an interview in the Daily Mail two days later – which skates over his state of mind – where he follows the paper’s agenda of rubbishing any paedophile case involving anybody remotely important. The interview is one of three in the last two weeks all on the same theme.

In it- and he has done this before – he aggrandises the role of  Labour deputy leader, Tom Watson, describing the Met Police’s as being  “terrified ” of him ( I doubt that myself.)

Mr Settle told the Mail :: ‘The management at the Yard were absolutely petrified of Tom Watson. They were scared of what he could do to their careers.

‘They hung me out to dry. It was about their self-preservation. I was an expendable DCI and their careers were more important to them.

‘I was quite emphatic that the allegations against Lord Brittan were nonsense.’

He is particularly angry that Tom Watson contacted the DPP over an historic allegation  that Lord Brittan had raped a young woman.

The Mail said: He was ‘disgusted’ to learn that a month earlier, Mr Watson had written directly to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, asking her to review the decision and demanding that Lord Brittan – who was dying of cancer – be interviewed. The letter was forwarded to Met chiefs. ”

Yet the CPS did decide that a different approach should have been made and I am sure not just because it wanted to appease a Labour MP, then a backbencher. And Brittan was interviewed though there was not enough evidence to bring charges.

Mr Settle also believes ” Nick” who is  a child sex abuse survivor should be prosecuted for bringing forward such allegations  which did involve prominent figures and accusations of murder as well as child sex abuse and led to the Operation Midland investigation.

“If the evidence is there, he should be charged. He has done more harm to victim rights’ than anyone in modern criminal history.’

He also has told the Mail that he believed he lost his job because of his stand.

‘I was hounded out at the Met purely because I stood up and said ‘we should not do that’. But I can look myself in the mirror. I did the right thing.

‘However it was patently obvious that having exposed the failings of senior officers – and the level of indecision that existed and some would say incompetence – that I had no place in the organisation.’

‘I have been vindicated in the end but I have lost the job I love.’

Scotland Yard disagree. A spokesman is reported by the Mail as saying : “The Met does not believe that Mr Settle was “hounded out” of the organisation.”

To my mind there is one big unanswered question in all this. Given the high profile role and all the complexities of the Westminster paedophile investigation – why was a man who was in such a bad mental state – drinking himself to sleep and having nightmares because of previous police duties – ever put in charge of it in the first place.

He would have difficulties in dealing with such graphic and  difficult allegations and putting such prominent people through the mill.It strikes me that the main criticism of the Met must be whether it followed its ” duty of care ” to its own staff, not any suggestion that it hounded him out of office.

 

 

Unreported by the national media: How some bosses can help if you are one of 2 million people enduring domestic abuse

Elizabeth Filkin

Elizabeth Filkin: chair of the steering group of the Employers Initiative on Domestic Abuse

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This week the BBC hosted an extraordinary conference on how business and public employers can act to help employees if they are suffering the living hell of domestic abuse.

The conference attracted big names. Lord Hall, director general of BBC; Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police Commissioner; Amber Rudd, the home secretary (by video); Ben Page, chief executive of ipsos MORI;Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, Chief of Defence People;Victoria Atkins,Home Office minister for crime and directors from accountancy giant, Grant Thornton, and Vodafone, the mobile phone provider.

It also was addressed by a remarkably brave woman,Serena, who told her story of both child sexual abuse and an adult abusive relationship, which led her unsympathetic employer to sack her and the actor and series producer of TV drama Holby City, whose story line included an abusive gay relationship which ended up with one partner being beaten up.

The event was organised by an organisation you have probably never heard of – the Employers’ Initiative  on Domestic Abuse – run by Elizabeth Filkin, a no nonsense figure who as Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards once took on Peter Mandelson and Keith Vaz over allegations of bad behaviour..

People might think what has business got to do with people’s personal lives – but what was noticeable was the firms that are backing the initiative had got involved after a traumatic event involving their staff.

Cressida Dick told the extraordinary story of how a very competent senior police officer in the Met rang her own switchboard to report that she was  a victim of domestic abuse. The police commissioner read out her testimony and described how she , though finding it an extremely difficult thing to do, is now coping with it

Another  big accountancy firm became involved after an employee jumped off London Bridge and committed suicide because they couldn’t cope with domestic abuse.

And a person attending from a hotel group told me they got involved after a young man attending a function was sexually abused when sleeping off the effects of too much alcohol on their premises. He went to the police, they decided they should join an organisation that dealt with abuse.

The BBC’s involvement comes some 18 months after the shock of the Jimmy Savile scandal – and ironically the conference was held in the same room where Tony Hall pledged to take action in the wake of Dame Janet Smith’s devastating findings on the issue.

Ad the Ministry of Defence actually tackles predators as well both those serving in the forces and those in the families of serving officers.

But they are the good ones. Ben Page told the conference that HR departments ” talked the good talk ” but often didn’t take any action or did not know how to to take action. Only one in twenty medium and large companies have a policy to deal with domestic abuse.

He described the present situation as akin to the position on mental health – which had been ignored by firms but was now accepted as an issue. He was an optimist saying ” In 10 years time all the misogynists will be dead ” – a point challenged by Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Yardley, who takes up domestic abuse issues, and is regularly trolled by people on the net.

Probably his most interesting admission was as chief executive of an organisation employing 1400 he did not know or had never come across a case of domestic abuse among his staff. He admitted that could not be the case.

His report makes a number of recommendations which could be included in the government’s new Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill- including removing the minimum qualifying period for domestic abuse victims to get flexible working and introducing  ten days paid leave a year for domestic abuse victims. The latter, he admitted, would lead to protests from the Tory right. I can just imagine MPs like the nappy change refusnik Jacob Rees Mogg having apoplexy.

The government is obviously keen on employers sharing responsibility. But below the surface there are huge issues of resources, the fate of women refuges, austerity, pressure on local authorities and the police and social services to handle this huge problem.

I shall return to some  of these issues in future blogs. But one point needs to be made. This conference was covered by none of the national media – not even the BBC who hosted it. Only The Telegraph and ITN did show some interest. And that is despite energetic efforts made by conference  organisers.

There is an interesting parallel. In the media industry – only the BBC and ITN – have  signed up  to the group which now numbers over 150 companies who are trying to help victims of domestic abuse.

So the entire national  and regional press and the major social media sites believe there is no problem with domestic abuse among their thousands of employees. A likely story. No wonder they didn’t cover it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exclusive: How newly found “destroyed” papers revive the mystery of the notorious gay and paedophile Elm Guest House

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Elm Guest House: Run jointly by Carole Kasir

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UPDATE: Since this article was published a fresh source has come forward to my colleague Mark Conrad, who also wrote about Elm Guest House, showing that Carol Kasir was born Carol Linda Jones in the West Riding of Yorkshire on 4 July 1942 and was never born in Germany. She and her family grew up in south London. Carol moved to the USA with her mother when she was a teenager, but did not like the States and soon returned.There is no direct family link to the name Weichmann – Carol’s relatives think she made up the name, or adopted it to cover her background, before she married Harry. Harry would have thought her maiden name was Weichmann as it was declared on her marriage certificate.

Coroner’s papers covering the controversial inquest of Carole Kasir, the madam who ran with her husband, the notorious Elm Guest House in Barnes, south London. have been discovered after the police said they had been destroyed

They revive the whole business of whether the venue for consenting gay adults was  used as a haunt for paedophiles. I have written  today with Keir Mudie, the Mirror’s deputy political editor, an article about it in the Sunday People and it is also on the Mirror website here.

The verdict by the Hammersmith coroner way back in 1990 was that she committed suicide – and given two suicide notes were found – so it should have been a slam dunk case.

But other people who gave evidence thought she might have been killed because she was alleged to have kept records and photographs of some of the visitors who came there – one of whom the Met police confirmed was Sir Cyril Smith, whom even the biggest naysayers about VIP paedophilia, would have difficulty today making a case that he was innocent.

What is extraordinary is that the Met Police did a recent investigation – Operation Fernbridge-  into Elm Guest House  and a Richmond Council children’s home Grafton Close – that led to the conviction of a Roman Catholic priest Tony McSweeney and the arrest and charging of the deputy manager of the home, John Stingmore on child sexual abuse. Yet they told an MP Tom Watson, now Labour’s deputy leader, who raised questions about the case, that all the papers relating to Kasir at the inquest had been destroyed.

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The covering page of the” destroyed” inquest document

That is plainly not the case as these redacted documents show. I understand that more recently the police may have checked back though there is no evidence that they are re-opening the Richmond investigation.

McSweeney was not charged with anything about Elm Guest House only in connection with the children’s home and abuse at Stingemore’s flat in Bexhill. Stingemore was charged with one count involving Elm Guest House but he died just before the case was due to come to court. So it was never tested in court.

What the documents do show illustrates how difficult it is to investigate historical child sexual abuse and the mass of contradictions -surrounding the story.

They even go down to Carole Kasir’s name  in the document. The official record gives her name as Weichman and born on 4 July 1942 in Germany. Her marriage certificate I have  recently learnt has Weichman as her father and her estranged husband at the time  said her name was Weichman. But a close relative  who should know said her maiden name was Carole Anne Jones and she was born in London.

The documents also raise questions about her suicide and here even the accounts are contradictory. Her GP, David Walker, who she had been a patient at his practice for 14 years, reveals she did have a history earlier of suicide, was diabetic and had a drink problem. But he concludes that she was NOT the type of person he expected to commit suicide.

The toxicology report from New Cross Hospital confirms she died from hypoglycemia and an overdose of insulin. But the examination did not bother to check the syringes or phials or the contents of her stomach. No alcohol was discovered.

But the most contentious  and sensational evidence came from other witnesesses One insisted that he had seen a pile of photographs of prominent people and documents naming which VIPs came there  at her home and another claimed she was being pursued by the security services and the police.

One piece of evidence from the inquest  does chime with the Metropolitan Police’s answer to Channel 4 Dispatches  is the involvement of Sir Cyril Smith. The detailed evidence to the inquest included a story that the overweight MP broke her toilet and wouldn’t pay for the repair which added a further dispute. between him and her.

The inquest also took evidence from Richmond Council  where Mr Jeffries, director of social services, admitted that Stingemore was a paedophile convicted in 1983 -a year after he left Richmond Council.

But Terry Earland, the head of children’s services, suspected that boys were being taken to Elm Guest House from Grafton Close earlier under Stingemore’s care. This appeared not to be taken up by the then director of social services, Louis Minster who  then suddenly resigned from the council.

Now you might say as many naysayers do, why should we be bothered. It is all in the past and we should move on. But I bet none of these people have looked into the eyes of people who have been abused and seen the havoc and destruction they have faced years after the event. They would prefer to just call them fantasists and say none of this probably happened anyway.

That is why we have an independent inquiry at the moment looking into historic child sexual abuse and certainly looking at the evidence it has already dredged out of  the sexual abuse of children at Knowl View School in Rochdale by Cyril Smith there was a cover up as well as abuse.

That is why painstakingly we need to get the nearest we can to the truth and pretending document’s don’t exist is not a way to get there.