- Insurers accused of hampering child abuse inquiries
– Essex child abuse: Increase in case probes ‘not surprising’
– Child abuse civil claims: Victorian Government to remove time limit for legal action
– Knox Grammar School was home to ‘large paedophile cohort’, victim tells inquiry
Insurers accused of hampering child abuse inquiries
By Tim Whewell 23 February 2015
A BBC investigation has found evidence that some local authorities in England and Wales may have allowed fear of losing insurance cover to alter their approach to child abuse inquiries.
File on 4 has also been told of cases where insurers attempted to suppress information about abuse allegations.
An ex social services chief called the behaviour of one company “disgusting”.
The Association of British Insurers said the investigation “raised a number of serious matters”.
When Colin Lambert, then leader of Rochdale Council, proposed an investigation last year into a possible cover-up of child abuse in the town, he was shocked by a response from council officers.
Former pupils at the Knowl View special school for boys have alleged they were victims of sexual assaults by Rochdale’s former MP, the late Cyril Smith and others, in the 1970s, ’80s, and early ’90s.
Mr Lambert says he was told an inquiry could lead to problems with the council’s insurers.
“I can recall a conversation with officers that this could lead to the insurers withdrawing cover,” he says. “Holding an actual open inquiry would expose exactly who did know what – and therefore the council probably would have been liable. And that then opens up the insurers to claims.”….
The File on 4 investigation has found other cases across Britain, over many years, in which councils have expressed concern over the danger of losing insurance cover – and some in which insurers have attempted to suppress information about abuse allegations.
Tim Hulbert, former director of social services in Bedfordshire, says insurers “instructed” him on what to do when he was helping set up an inquiry into alleged child abuse at a children’s home in the early 1990s.
He said: “I had a phone call from the insurers who were anxious to influence the terms of reference of the inquiry, so they didn’t actually produce circumstances which would increase the likelihood of claims….
n North Wales in 1996, Clwyd County Council refused to publish the report of an inquiry it had set up into abuse in its children’s homes following legal advice that it would risk losing its insurance cover.
The government-appointed Waterhouse Tribunal on North Wales abuse later said the insurers had “acted throughout with the honourable intention” of preventing the council acting in such a way that they would be forced to repudiate liability for claims.
But when the Clwyd report by John Jillings was eventually published on a BBC Freedom of Information request in 2013, it revealed that the insurers had objected to the panel’s proposal for notices in the press appealing for information about abuse….
Insurance and Child Abuse File on 4
With a growing number of compensation claims arising from cases of historic sexual abuse and more recent high profile cases of sexual grooming, Tim Whewell investigates the key role which insurance companies play. In representing the local authorities where scandals occurred, insurers naturally seek to limit liability but are they doing so at a cost to victims? Lawyers say they have to battle to get access to files and other information – causing further distress and delaying help for those damaged by abuse. Some say the fight is getting harder as insurance companies have toughened their approach in recent years. And, with a national inquiry into historic cases of child sex abuse, how much influence did insurance companies have on the way some past investigations were carried out? File on 4 talks to senior local authority insiders who say they were told to alter their approach to abuse investigations to protect the insurers’ interests. But was that at the expense of children at risk?
Essex child abuse: Increase in case probes ‘not surprising’ 23 February 2015
Concerns over the handling of child abuse cases by an Essex Police team are “not surprising”, the county’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) has said.
Eight extra cases have been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) on top of 30 already being looked into.
The investigations relate to a team covering north Essex.
Essex PCC Nick Alston said the increase was “distressing”. The force has been asked to comment but has yet to do so.
“As the review into the quality of child abuse investigations instigated by Essex Police progresses, regrettably I do not find it surprising that it has identified further cases of concern and fresh referrals to the IPCC,” he said….
Some cases are said to involve a “lack of honesty or integrity” by officers, and are based on allegations of historical abuse dating to the 1960s and 1970s….
Child abuse civil claims: Victorian Government to remove time limit for legal action
The Victorian Government is set to abolish a major legal hurdle for child abuse victims who want to sue their attackers.
Legislation will be introduced into the Victorian Parliament to remove the time limit imposed on child abuse victims who want to launch civil claims.
Currently under the law there is a 12-year time limit to take action over alleged abuse.
Changes will mean people who suffered abuse as a child decades ago will be able to seek civil damages.
Attorney-General Martin Pakula said victims should not be penalised for not acting immediately….
Knox Grammar School was home to ‘large paedophile cohort’, victim tells inquiry
By Ashleigh Raper
A former student of a Sydney private school says students were sexually abused so often, he was not sure it was wrong when he was assaulted by a teacher in the playground.
Former Knox Grammar student Scott Ashton told the royal commission into child sexual abuse of the shock, shame and confusion he suffered after being abused at the school in the 1980s.
He said it was clear the school harboured “a large paedophile cohort” and the abuse led to him becoming a sex worker as teenager.
Students were abused at the exclusive boys school, on Sydney’s north shore, over a 33-year period from the 1970s until 2003….
Mr Ashton said, in 1986, an acquaintance invited him to a sex party where he was paid for sex work, and which was attended by about 10 Knox Grammar teachers and some students.
He said a few of the teachers in attendance were later convicted of child sex offences.
Five former teachers were convicted, but the commission has been told the problem was worse than first thought.
Allegations that three other Knox staff members abused students were heard on Monday.
The commission also heard there was evidence the school knew about abuse but never told police, and the alleged perpetrators have not faced criminal proceedings….
Knox Grammar School’s lawyer, Geoffrey Watson SC, asked to speak before any of the witnesses on Monday.
He said that the school conceded what happened was disturbing and damaging.
“There is no excuse,” Geoffrey Watson SC said.
“The school owed a primary responsibility to those students, and to those parents, to keep them safe from this sort of thing.
“The school humbly and sincerely apologises for its failure.”….