Friday, 25 April 2014

More Medomsley Detention Centre abuse victims compensated

The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author
By Gavin Engelbrecht

THE MINISTRY of Justice has agreed to pay damages to two more victims of sexual abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre – bringing the total in out-of-court settlements to more than £1m.

The awards are the latest in long-running civil actions for the abuses of prison officers against vulnerable young detainees at the Home Office-run detention centre near Consett, County Durham.

More than 550 victims of alleged sexual and physical abuse have come forward since Durham Police launched a renewed investigation into the centre last August.

A previous investigation led to the conviction of prison officer Neville Husband, who was jailed for ten years for sexually abusing several teenagers at Medomsley. Accomplice Leslie Johnson, a store man at the centre, was also jailed. They have both since died.

The centre closed in 1987, but later reopened as a secure training unit.

Solicitor David Greenwood, a specialist in the rights of survivors of sexual abuse, based in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, represents 150 people who claim they were abused at Medomsley.

He confirmed damages had been agreed this week at Leeds County Court for two more victims of Husband. Their claims pre-date the latest police investigation.

Mr Greenwood said: “These settlements are welcome news for our deserving victims of abuse at Medomsley.

“It has been truly shocking to hear the accounts of these men who were boys at the time of the abuse.”

Mr Greenwood, of Switalskis Solicitors, said the firm had so far secured payments for up to 35 claimants– the highest individual awards being between £60,000 and  £70,000.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “The outcome of the ongoing police investigation will be considered in due course. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”