Our child abuse solicitors made a claim against Cambridgeshire County Council on behalf of two children, securing settlements for both clients.
The children, born in 1993 and 2001, lived with their birth family who were known to social services from 1994. There were mounting concerns about their home life, but the children weren’t removed until June 2006, following which they both made disclosures of serious physical and sexual abuse.
Their parents were charged with cruelty and sexual abuse, but the sexual abuse charges were dropped and the stepfather pleaded guilty to cruelty. He received a 12 month suspended sentence and 240 community service hours.
Having looked at the preliminary papers and criticism by the Guardian ad litem (someone appointed to represent the children’s best interests) in the family proceedings, we proceeded with the case on the basis that the children should have been removed earlier. However, following receipt of expert social work evidence, the period of breach by the council was unclear because some assistance had been provided to the family.
In spite of the difficulties with the evidence, the local authority made offers to settle the claims. One of our clients was very vulnerable because of her mental health difficulties. She did have capacity and with careful guidance she received her settlement of £15,000 – we advised her on setting up a personal injury trust to protect her benefits and placement. Our other client was still a child and we applied to the Court who approved her settlement of £20,000.
Tracey Storey, the head of our child abuse team, said: “This was a tricky case in terms of establishing liability. But we still managed to secure some financial redress for the girls, to reflect the mistakes made in not safeguarding them.”
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