Thursday, 10 April 2014

Solicitors involved with the Medomsley cases so far.

Medomsley Detention Centre in County Durham provided the so-called ‘short sharp shock’. A police investigation was started following allegations of sexual abuse.

Medomsley Detention Centre is the subject of a re-opened investigation and recent publicity into the sexual abuse of young offenders in the 1980’s. In 2003, Neville Husband and Lesley Johnson (who have since died) were convicted of sexually abusing boys at Medomsley.

Members of our team have successfully obtained five-figure settlements for people who suffered abuse at Medomsley. We are currently helping other former inmates with compensation claims.


Medomsley Detention Centre Exposé

More than a 120 victims have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre in County Durham.

The centre operated a “short sharp shock” regime between 1975 and 1990. The phrase “short, sharp shock” means “a quick, severe punishment” and was used under the Thatcher government, when the then Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw introduced the treatment at detention centres for young criminals (advertised as part of the 1979 Conservative Party Manifesto).

Inmates were subjected to brutal violence from some staff members with victims reporting they had been forced to submit to rape after having a bread knife held to their throat while another victim said he had been ligatured, blindfolded and raped by three men after a member of staff had taken him off the detention centre premises.

The rise in allegations follows a police announcement in August stating they would re-investigate child abuse claims from the 1970’s and 1980’s and appealed for victims who had not previously come forward to do so.

The investigation was re-opened following a former inmate coming forward. Durham police have said they intend to have interviewed all new alleged victims by early this year.

The investigation also comes following the conviction of a prison officer at the detention centre for teenage boys in 2003 at Newcastle Crown Court. Neville Husband, a former Gateshed clergyman, was convicted of sexually abusing five inmates between 1974 and 1984, after pleading not guilty. In 2005 Husband’s sentence was increased to 10 years after new victims came forward and he admitted to four more attacks. Husband left prison in 2009 but the 72-year-old, of Shortly Bridge, County Durham, died the following year.

Father-of-one Husband, the main perpetrator who was in charge of the kitchens at the Borstal from 1975 to 1981, may have hand-picked hundreds of boys to abuse on a daily basis over a 17-year period. Previous investigations carried out by Durham Constabulary in 2002 and 2005 resulted in two more men being convicted. Another member of staff at the detention centre near Consett, storeman Leslie Johnson, was imprisoned for six years for abusing a boy at the centre. Johnson also died after being released from prison.

In 2006, it was revealed there were documents showing Husband had been investigated for importing homosexual pornography into the prison service 10 years before he preyed on inmates at Medomsley.

Statements given to police by prison officers who worked with Husband suggested suspicions were rife about his preference for young boys in the kitchens, where sex toys and pornography were found when searched.

Transcripts of interviews also revealed thousands of indecent pictures of children were found on computers seized from Husband’s home and a URC church office. Further evidence emerged that colleagues of Husband suspected he was molesting boys at the time but did nothing.

The centre closed in 1988 after the abuse came to light but has since reopened as a secure training unit.
Jordans Lead Child Abuse Solicitor, Lisa Jackson, said: “Jordans has acted on behalf of a many victims of Medomsley Detention Centre for a number of years and continue to do so. Durham police have confirmed to us that there will be an expose on Medomsley Detention Centre on BBC Inside Out, Monday 27th January 2014. We hope that viewers will gain a better understanding of the horrific crimes that took place.”



Medomsley: potential civil claims following historical institutional abuse

Another report in the press has highlighted horrific abuse at a former County Durham Detention Centre.  According to press reports, men detained at Medomsley Detention Centre were subject to sexual and physical abuse by prison officers employed there.

One such prison officer, Neville Husband, was convicted of numerous offences and sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2003 and another employee, Leslie Johnson who was a store man, was convicted and sentenced to 6 years in prison in 2005.   Newcastle Crown Court heard that Mr Husband “used his position of authority” when employed at Medomsley to inflict abuse on detainees from 1974 to 1984.  He was found guilty of 10 counts of indecent assault and one of serious sexual assault after at least 24 victims came forward. Messrs Husband and Johnson are both now deceased.

Durham Police reopened the investigation in August 2013 and so far 143 alleged victims have come forward. One such victim has been reported as saying “Some of the boys would lie at the bottom of the stairs and ask another boy to jump off the stairs onto their legs so they could break a leg and be removed from Medomsley Detention Centre in order not to be subjected to any more beatings”. 

This seems to be an extraordinary way of detainees trying to protect themselves from sexual abuse and beatings. This would seem a desperate measure to protect each other from further harm and abuse.

The sickening part of this is that most of the detainees were sent to Medomsley for minor offences such as petty theft and many were first time offenders.

Tim Newell was the governor at Medomsley from 1978 to 1981 but he prepared a report stating that Mr Husband provided “an outstanding contribution to the running of the establishment”.  This of course cannot be true as there are currently 70 police officers in Durham involved in this enquiry.

Even the Director General of the prison service at the time of the offences coming to light, Martin Narey, has said “Without reservation I apologise to people at Medomsley who were harmed by Neville Husband. We should have stopped him much earlier.”

In the same vein as Operation Yewtree it would appear that people knew that the abuse was taking place but did very little to stop it or prevent it happening to others. Institutional systemic abuse in such institutions as the BBC and Medomsley must have been common knowledge at the time. However, it has taken many years to bring the perpetrators of the abuse to justice.  Jimmy Savile died before he could be brought to justice and the victims of his abuse feel cheated that he was not made to answer to them for the abuse he carried out in much the same way as the victims of Husband and Johnson who are now coming forward many years after the abuse was carried out.

Abuse, be it physical, sexual or emotional, can carry lifelong psychological difficulties for victims and it takes courage and motivation for victims to come forward and tell others what has happened.  I see many clients who are paralysed emotionally because of such abuse and they have extreme difficulty moving on with life as a consequence.

I fear that the institutional abuse such as that carried out at Medomsley was down to a small number of individuals who felt the need to exploit the detainees.  The detainees were vulnerable and incapable of protecting themselves at the time of the abuse, and after release from Medomsley they had to grapple with the harmful effects of the abuse and the stigma attached to being incarcerated at Medomsley and this in itself, for many, would have prevented them from disclosing such abuse to the police or other such authorities.


Medomsley Detention Centre
09:39 - 27th Feb 2014 - by Taylor goodchild

We are currently representing a number of victims of systematic abuse whilst inmates at HM Detention Centre Medomsley, in County Durham.

Scott Taylor of  Taylor Goodchild Solicitors said, “We echo calls for an inquiry into the horrific suffering endured by those unfortunate to be sent

there. We will do all we can to assist those individuals brave enough to come forward, with sympathy and understanding, both in their contacts

with the police in their pursuit of justice and any future civil compensation claims. It can be embarrassing for victims of this type of sexual abuse

or physical abuse to come forward. It is vital that they do so to support the police investigation in what appears to be systematic institutionalised




Medomsley Detention Centre - Additional abuse allegations


The BBC programme Inside Out aired on Monday 27th January detailed the scale of abuse and subsequent allegations of a cover-up that occurred at Medomsley Detention Centre between 1974 and 1984. The programme included a police appeal for victims and witnesses. Since Monday, Durham Constabulary state that 108 people have contacted the authorities, with the total number of victims said to be approaching 150.

Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry said they were focusing on three specific areas of the inquiry; finding out what happened over 20 years ago, holding the perpetrators to account (if alive) and supporting the victims. Speaking on the programme Goundry confirmed that 70 detectives were working on the investigation and had been faced with horrific reports of a brutal regime that subjected its young victims to years of torture, rape and serious sexual offences.

The Background

In 2003, Neville Husband was found guilty for 10 counts of indecent assault and 1 serious sexual offence, and sentenced to 8 years. This was later extended to 10 years after a further 12 victims came forward and Husband subsequently dropped his appeal. He served just over half this sentence before being released in 2009 and died a year later.

Husband was first arrested in 1967 for the illegal importation of homosexual pornography into a prison but he was never charged as he claimed they were for research purposes.  He was allowed to start work in the prison service and it is alleged that the first of his offences took place at Portland Young Offenders Institution before Husband was moved to Medomsley.

After 17 years at Medomsley, Husband was reportedly forced to leave in either 1985 or 1986 over allegations of abuse and was transferred to Frankland Maximum Security Prison then to Deerbolt Young Offenders Institution in Barnard Castle, County Durham. During his time at Deerbolt, further allegations of sexual abuse were raised against Husband, but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute as the claims were deemed "not to be in the public interest." Husband returned to Frankland, where he received a promotion to senior officer.

A second employee from Medomsley, Leslie Johnson, was sentenced for 6 years in 2005 for sexual abuse offences.

Recent Allegations

It is believed the new allegations and the continued police inquiry has led detectives to examine claims of a cover up intended to mask the true extent of the offences and in particular the level at which senior management "turned a blind-eye."

Fellow prison guards have claimed that Husband was given special treatment by the numerous governors and senior management figures during his 17 years at Medomsley to help cover up the abuse.

The Director of Prison Services has apologised to victims insisting "we should have stopped him much earlier."  Tim Newell, Governor at Medomsley between 1978 and 1981 said "If I had any suspicions about sexual abuse or abuse of any kind I would have taken action. If staff knew about the abuse taking place I am very concerned they let the abuse continue."

So what can the victims do?

If you were the victim of abuse at Medomsley – or any other institution – we realise it is not about the money.  However, significant compensation may be available for the suffering caused as a consequence of repeated and serious sexual assaults – additional compensation may also be given to fund counselling treatment.

Watson Woodhouse Solicitors have a team of specialist civil solicitors who have experience in successful actions, against both private individuals and public authorities, relating to historic abuse cases.

We will assess each case individually and help you through the process with the sensitivity and confidentiality you deserve.  We will recognise the impact the abuse may have had upon other areas of your life, such as mental injury, breakdown in family relationships, housing issues and issues with other public authorities such as the Police.  We have a significant overlap of these specialist areas at Watson Woodhouse which means our solicitors will work together to provide you with all the support you need.

We understand the financial compensation will not heal the hurt and years of pain, but it will at least provide an acknowledgement from the authorities involved that they failed to protect young, vulnerable men in their care.

If you would like any more information on how we deal with cases of historic abuse, or if you were a victim of abuse at Medomsley or any other institution, please contact one of our solicitors.



Abuse Lawyers Back Investigations Into Medomsley Juvenile Detention Centre

Fresh Concerns Over Site After More Victims Raise Abuse Allegations

By Rob Dixon

Legal experts who represent victims of abuse have welcomed Durham Police’s ongoing investigations into allegations of abuse in relation to Medomsley juvenile detention centre, with the latest reports suggesting 64 more people have come forward in relation into the site.

Church minister Neville Husband and store man Leslie Johnson, who are now both deceased, were jailed in 2003 and 2005 respectively for abusing inmates at the site in the 1970s and 1980s. The case was reopened last month when a former inmate came forward to state he was also abused.

According to the BBC, Durham Police have now confirmed that in the past month they have been contacted by 64 more people and expect that the number may grow further. Around two dozen victims were known to police during the original investigation.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist abuse lawyers, who represent victims who have suffered severe physical and psychological trauma as a result of abuse, have said the revelations are not uncommon in cases of this nature.

Rachel Di Clemente, a legal expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office who helps victims of abuse gain justice over the ordeals they have endured, said: “In so many cases, people with concerns over abuse only feel encouraged to speak out when they know their voices will be heard. This is often after others have already come forward.

“It is vital that Durham Police work to thoroughly investigate all of the latest allegations in relation to this detention centre, with the ultimate aim of getting to the bottom of the extent of problems at the site once and for all.

“With the number of people who have come forward, it appears there are many who have concerns over what took place at the site and they will all want answers over the issues.

“It is also possible that a thorough investigation leads to vital lessons being learned and ensures that efforts can be made to ensure the same issues are simply not repeated in the future.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in relation to Neglect and Abuse claims


The police have been re-examining historic sexual abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre in County Durham in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

It is believed that over 100 victims have come forward who were systematically abused.
Previous investigations resulted in Senior prison officer Neville Husband and caretaker Leslie Johnson convicted of sex offences. There is now new evidence to suggest that abuse at the institution was known about. Alan Reed, Prison officer at Medomsley DC 1974 to 1984 said:

“At the time I was at Medomsley with Husband… I did hear rumors he was interfering with the boys. That was usually the “banter” in prison amongst staff.”

Police are certain that there are many more victims out there. Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry, Durham Police has said:

“This investigation will put victims at the heart of the inquiry … We would like to hear from anyone who has new information about Medomsley and the abuse that occurred both inside and when inmates were taken off-site.
“We have experienced detectives working on this case including many who are specially-trained to deal with victims of sexual abuse. They will go to see our victims in person, wherever they are, answer any queries they may have.
“Many of those sent to Medomsley were first-time offenders... These days they might be dealt with by issuing a caution, or putting in place a restorative solution designed to keep them out of the criminal justice system.
“We owe it to all the former inmates of the centre to investigate every possible lead and ensure no stone is left unturned.”

A BBC documentary, Inside Out, will be broadcast tonight at 7.30 pm. It will have exclusive access as police investigate claims of abuse in the detention centre.

Systematic abuse like this is shameful. We have undertaken claims for many people who have been abused in detention centres. We urge people they should report it to the police and take legal advice.


Abuse claims lawyer welcomes announcement of fresh investigation at detention centre
Medomsley Detention Centre is under the spotlight as allegations of abuse emerge from dozens of people
27 January 2014
Alison Millar who represents people abused at Winterbourne View and Swaylands School in Kent, said that in coming forward and telling what happened to them,  the victims of Medomsley Detention Centre, near Consett have ensured that those involved or who condoned the actions of the main perpetrators can be held to account.

After announcing that they were starting a new investigation into allegations of abuse at the centre 143 people came forward to tell of their experiences at the centre.

Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry, of Durham Constabulary, said: "We said from the outset this was going to be a long and complex investigation which we fully expect will last at least another 12 months.
"So far we have been contacted by more than 140 former inmates of Medomsley, who have reported they were victims of either sexual or physical abuse at the centre between the late 1960s and the mid-1980s.

"The accounts we have heard have been horrific and have shaken some very experienced detectives who are working on this.

"It is obviously distressing to hear from so many victims, but at the same time I am relieved they have shown the confidence in us to get in touch and allow us to help them.

"Our efforts are directed not just at establishing what happened in Medomsley over that period but ensuring the victims are left in a better place and get the support and advice they need."

In 2003, a previous police investigation called Operation Halter led to the conviction of Neville Husband, a prison officer at the centre.

Husband was initially jailed for eight years after being found guilty of abusing five youngsters.

Alison Millar, a partner in the human rights team at Leigh Day said:

“To give evidence having experienced such horrific abuse is an ordeal in itself, as it brings to the surface many memories those who have been abused have tried to suppress over many years.

“However without this bravery those who facilitated, as well as those who perpetrated, these crimes could not be held to account.”


Medomsley Detention Centre – Child Abuse Investigation
A 10 year old investigation into child abuse at a former County Durham detention centre was reopened last year following further allegations against inmates and staff.
View original article here

The investigation was reopened in August, 2013. Since this time, Durham Police has received 143 statements documenting the crimes that took place.

Victim Speaks Out

Ray Poar has waived his right to anonymity and has spoken openly of his ordeal at Medomsley.

Mr Poar was 17 when he was placed in the facility – as punishment for stealing biscuits. He recalls being woken after wetting the bed, and being forced to bunny hop naked in the showers.
He said:

“When I couldn’t make it to the showers I was kicked. We knew we couldn’t turn around to them and complain to them about what had happened with Husband because they were part of it, they were the ones that were kicking us about every day.

The odd punch in the arm, the ribs, the back of the knees, every day they were doing it. You had nobody to talk to.”

The investigation highlighted Neville Husband and Leslie Johnson as being two staff members at the centre of the paedophile ring. The men were imprisoned in 2003 and 2005 respectively, and have both since died.

Renewed Investigation

Det Supt Paul Goundry has described Medomsley as a “brutal regime”, commenting that:
“If you ended up in the kitchens you would almost certainly be raped and sexually assaulted”
Mr Goundry has outlined three key objectives. These are to uncover exactly what happened, to then bring those responsible to account, and to offer support to victims.

If you think you, or someone you know, may have been affected by events at Medomsley – or by any similar case – and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email


Medomsley Detention Centre abuse investigation reopens
Police have reopened a 10-year-old investigation into sexual abuse at a former County Durham detention centre, which saw two staff jailed.
Church minister Neville Husband, who worked at Medomsley juvenile detention centre as a prison officer and store man Leslie Johnson were jailed in 2003.

The pair, both now dead, were convicted of sexually abusing inmates.

Durham Police has now reopened the investigation after a former inmate claimed he was also abused.

John McCabe, from East Kilbride in Scotland, who has waived his right to anonymity, said he was also a victim of Husband at the now-closed institution.

Mr McCabe said the abuse took place 30 years ago when Husband recruited him to work in the kitchen, and that he also took him out of Medomsley, where he was raped by another man.

Durham detectives are now reinvestigating the claims and have appealed for any other abuse victims to come forward.

Det Supt Paul Goundry said: “The investigation will put victims at the heart of the inquiry, but at the same time we would like to hear from anyone who has new information about Medomsley and any abuse that occurred either inside, or when inmates were taken off-site.

“Those who carried out the abuse preyed on some very vulnerable young people and left many of them with mental scars which have lasted a lifetime.

Neville Husband was jailed for abusing male inmates in 2003

“While we contacted and took statements from a number of victims as part of this investigation, we believe there are others who for whatever reason have never come forward.

“It is those people we are now asking to contact us and pass on any information about what took place during their time at Medomsley, whether it happened at the centre or elsewhere.”

Medomsley closed in the late 1980s after the abuse came to light and has since reopened as a secure training centre.

During his 2003 trial, Newcastle Crown Court heard Husband, who became a minister in the United Reformed Church after 27 years in the prison service, had used his position of authority to systematically abuse his victims between 1974 and 1984.

The male inmates, who were aged between 16 and 19 at the time, had been picked by Husband to work in the kitchens, where he would sometimes “blatantly” indecently assault them or take them away for abuse in secret.

He was jailed for 12 years. Johnson was sentenced to six years at a separate trial.

We understand that it is not unusual for those who were subject to abuse to come forward later in life. If you or somebody you know were subject to abuse please do not hesitate to contact Charles Derham our specialist child abuse solicitor. We will treat any communications with the strictest of confidence.


Medomsley Detention Centre in County Durham is at the heart of a major police inquiry as hundreds of inmates have come forward claiming that they were physically and sexually abused by staff members between the late 1960s and the mid 1980s.  In 2003 Neville Husband and Lesley Johnson were convicted of sexually abusing boys at Medomsley.  Both men have since died.

In August 2013 the investigation was re-opened and since then over 550 victims of alleged abuse at Medomsley have come forward to Durham Police.

The specialist child abuse team led by John Hall, Managing Partner at Tilly Bailey & Irvine are currently representing former inmates to help them seek compensation damages from the Ministry of Justice for the abuse that they faced at the hands of this Government-run centre.

If you, or someone you know has suffered similar abuse, please get in touch with our specialist team of solicitors on our FREE Advice line 0800 052 6824.  Your claim will be dealt with sympathetically and confidentially

We offer all clients an initial FREE INTERVIEW and if we can assist you we will offer you a NO WIN, NO FEE arrangement.

Photo: John Hall, Managing Partner, Tilly Bailey & Irvine 

Operation Seabrook Update – Medomsley Detention Centre 

8th July 2015Durham Constabulary has been contacted by over 1000 former inmates of Medomsley Detention Centre. Victims report that they were physically and sexually abused by members of staff at the detention centre between the 1960s and 1980s.

The investigation named ‘Operation Seabrook’ is now the biggest investigation into child abuse in the UK.

As part of the Police investigation into the abuse approximately twenty former members of staff have been formally interviewed about the abuse. Files have now been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service who will assess the available evidence with a view to make a charging decision by early 2016. It is then anticipated that any Trial would then take place towards Autumn 2016.

At Ben Hoare Bell we represent a large number of former Medomsley inmates in respect of compensation claims both to the Ministry of Justice and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

If you are a former inmate of Medomsley Detention Centre our initial advice is to:

Contact Durham Constabulary as soon as possible on 0345 60 60 365 to make a criminal complaint and cooperate fully with the ongoing investigation. 

Contact a solicitor specialising in the field of child abuse to discuss whether you are able to pursue a claim. There is no need to wait until the outcome of the criminal investigation before getting some advice.

If you wish to discuss a new enquiry please do not hesitate to contact our team on 0191 516 0466 or by email

 Legal Eagle: Abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre 
 With the current investigation at Medomsley Detention Centre, Rachel Thompson explains what you should do if you were abused at Medomsley, or at a similar institute.