Sunday, 29 November 2015

Durham Police 'welcome' Medomsley investigation

A spokesman for Durham Constabulary has said that they welcome the investigation by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse at the former detention centre:

“We welcome the news that Lord Justice Goddard will examine the Medomsley Detention Centre investigation.

To date more than 1,200 victims have come forward to report both physical and sexual abuse. Our overarching priority has been to support these victims through this difficult time and to help bring closure for them.

Durham Constabulary has spent millions of pounds on this ongoing inquiry and dedicated a huge amount of highly-skilled officers and staff to find out what happened at the centre.

Indeed, this has become the biggest investigation of its kind in the country.

Victim care is foremost in our minds and we look forward to co-operating with any national inquiry.

– Durham Constabulary spokesperson

Fears Feversham School abuse victims will be forgotten in child sex abuse inquiry

Systematic sexual abuse of children at Newcastle special school is not being probed by Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Mike Urwin
  Talbot House (formerly Feversham Special School) in Walbottle
Talbot House (formerly Feversham Special School) in Walbottle

Vile abuse of children at a Tyneside special school has not been included in the first phase of investigations planned by an independent inquiry into child sex abuse.

A former social worker who worked at Newcastle’s Feversham school has today told of his anger that the horrors he witnessed at the Throckley establishment might never be made public.

Hon Lowell Goddard, chairman of the long-running Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), announced what would be included in the first phase of investigations into the extent to which institutions have failed to protect children from sexual abuse.

The chairman revealed that 12 investigations will begin immediately and run in tandem, which include abuse linked to Westminster, within the Anglican and Roman Catholic Church, and within custodial institutions, including Medomsley Detention Centre near Consett.

Ian Merry, who spoke out about the horrors going on at Feversham almost 30 years ago, was never believed.

Paedophile Ken Brown, also known as Kevin
Paedophile Ken Brown, also known as Kevin
And it was to be more than 25 years before the full scale of the abuse his paedophiles colleagues Kevin Brown and John Leslie Duncan inflicted on youngsters was finally agreed.

Duncan and Lesley were last years jailed for a total of 21 years, but Mr Merry has been calling for a public inquiry into what happened at Feversham, and how it was allowed to go on for so long.

The whistle-blower sent a dossier of evidence to the inquiry, asking that Feversham be included.
But after hearing the huge scale of the investigations Justice Goddard already plans to look at, Mr Merry fears the secrets of Feversham, may never be fully revealed.

The 63-year-old said: “Justice Goddard has stated her priorities for investigation. My own view is that her priorities will tie her inquiry up for more than 10 years. The potential is that the Feversham School abuse will never get an airing.”

John Duncan
John Duncan
Duncan, who worked as a social worker at the Dr Barnardo’s home at Shotley Park before moving to Feversham in 1986, was jailed for or nine years in 2001 after admitting sexually abusing two boys at Feversham School and Shotley Park in Consett.

But further attacks came to light more recently and he was convicted after a trial of sex attacks against a further seven boys at the two schools. Brown began working at Feversham in 1978 as a residential social worker, when he was 22. He launched sex attacks against a number of young boys.

He had already been jailed for eight years in 2011 for the abuse of three youngsters at Feversham. But as part of the latest prosecution, he was convicted of abusing a further seven boys.

Duncan, of Hyde Park Street, Gateshead, was jailed for 15 years for various offences including buggery, indecent assault and indecency with a child. Brown, of Inchberry Close, Benwell, got six years for offences of indecent assault.

Mr Merry fears the IICSA is focusing too much on abuse connected to headline-grabbing high profile individuals and institutions, and the victims of lesser known perpetrators will be forgotten.

Ian Merry, from Throckley, who blew the whistle on staff at Feversham School, in 1987
Ian Merry, from Throckley, who blew the whistle on staff at Feversham School, in 1987

“There has been over 100 inquiries into Jimmy Savile alone and he can’t ever be convicted because he is not alive.” he said. “It seems to me they should be concentrating on those where people have been convicted. By focussing on high profile abusers the media and powerful and significant individuals can suppress other lesser known instances of child abuse which do not involve high profile perpetrators and therefore both distort the landscape of child protection, and enable the true extent of child abuse in Britain both today and in the past to be suppressed.”

Justice Goddard said on Friday: “Twelve investigations are proposed for this first phase. They will all begin with immediate effect and most, if not all, will culminate in public hearings. They represent the first phase of the inquiry’s investigations and are by no means the total of the work we intend to conduct; further investigations will be announced as the inquiry progresses.

“By adopting both an institution-specific and a thematic approach, we will ensure that the inquiry reaches its conclusions on as broad an evidence base as possible. We will not be limited to considering the particular institution that is the focus of the investigation, but will address the range of institutional responsibility for child protection.

“There is no doubt that the task we have set ourselves in the first phase is ambitious. To run 12 investigations in parallel represents an organisational challenge that is unprecedented in a public inquiry in the UK. We are determined to succeed and expect full cooperation of all institutions and individuals who can assist us in our work.”

Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images
 The Honourable Lowell Goddard speaks during an update to The Independent Child Sex Abuse Inquiry
The Honourable Lowell Goddard speaks during an update to The Independent Child Sex Abuse Inquiry

The 12 investigations are:

  • Children in the care of Lambeth Council
  • Children in the care of Nottinghamshire Councils
  • Cambridge House, Knowl View and Rochdale Council
  • Child sexual abuse in the Anglican Church
  • Child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church
  • The sexual abuse of children in custodial institutions
  • Child sexual abuse in residential schools
  • The internet and child sexual abuse
  • Child exploitation by organised networks
  • The protection of children outside the United Kingdom
  • Accountability and reparations for victims and survivors
  • Allegations of child sexual abuse linked to Westminster
Justice Goddard said it would be impossible to predict how long the investigations would take.

“It is impossible to put a timescale on the completion of all of this work, but it is reasonable to assume that while some of the investigations may be completed within 18 months, others may take several years to conclude,” she said. “In some cases, overlapping criminal proceedings may cause substantial delay to the progress of individual investigations. “Nonetheless, in my opening statement I committed to completing the work of the Inquiry within five years and my current assessment is that that timeframe, whilst ambitious, is achievable.”