Our abuse solicitors represented three siblings – Emma, Sam and Oscar – in a claim for compensation against Lancashire County Council after they were abused by their family for years.
Our client’s family became known to social services in June 1997, when Oscar, then an infant of 10 months was presented to the local hospital with a week old skull fracture as a result of ‘a drunken uncle’ dropping him. There were concerns around the time for Emma. Social workers intervened briefly before closing their file.
The local authorities became involved again with the family in 1998 when police found video material of a child being sexually abused. The child was Richard, Oscar’s half brother and stepbrother to Emma and Sam. The abuser was a family friend and neighbour. The local authority had a case protection conference and all three children were placed on the child protection register, under the category of likely sexual abuse. It also emerged in the local authority’s investigation that Oscar’s father was a schedule 1 offender. He had been convicted for indecent assault on his stepdaughter and had been sentenced to six months in prison.
Removed from child protection register
The local authority was notified of serious concerns for Emma, Sam and Oscar. They received a number of referrals from professional services. In March 1999, Richard was cautioned by the police for indecent assault on a 9-year-old boy. In October 1999, Sam complained about sexual advances from Richard. Despite this, on 4 November 1999 the children’s names were removed from the child protection register.
In February 2000 there were concerns about Oscar’s father’s aggressive behaviour to the children. Richard made allegations of sexual abuse by a family friend, and Emma, Sam and Oscar were registered under category of likely sexual abuse. The children were removed from the child protection register on moving home in November 2001. Richard went on to sexually abuse Emma but the local authority carried out no core assessment.
In March 2003, Emma revealed to her parents that she had been sexually abused by a man who had babysat her weekly. He was convicted and imprisoned. The police made a referral to the local authority. However, despite the wealth of documentation available within the social services concerning the family, no action was taken by the local authority at this time. Emma, Sam and Oscar weren’t removed from the family home until January 2005.
The Official Solicitor instructed Irwin Mitchell, and we received public funding. We contacted a social work expert to report on the standard of social work care received by the client. When we put our allegations to the local authority, they confirmed that they had failed in their duty to intervene quickly enough by instituting care proceedings for the protection of our clients. This led them to remain in the family home for longer than they should have done. The local authority later admitted that the clients should have been removed in June 1997 when Oscar suffered the head injury.
How we helped
We obtained a joint report from a psychiatrist. We also obtained reports from a consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist to assess the treatment and the likely costs on a private basis. We also obtained a report from a case manager setting out the assistance they could give the client’s to implement the treatment plan.
A schedule of compensation was prepared on all three cases and we issued in the High Court on an anonymised basis.
In February 2014, we met with the Defendant and were able to negotiate a £600,000 settlement for the Claimant. Emma received £270,000 which included funds to manage her damages in the Court of Protection. Sam received £80,000 and Oscar received £250,000. Emma is a protected party and Oscar is a minor.
We will ensure that Oscar has sufficient independent investment advice and his compensation is protected to allow him to access the treatment that has been recommended.
Natasha Fairs represented the siblings. She said: “Emma, Sam and Oscar should have been removed from their parents care when Oscar was 10 months old. Instead they remained in the home being physically, mentally and sexually abused which has resulted in significant damage.
“Through the claim we have provided Emma, Sam and Oscar with funds to obtain treatment as and when they need it with the assistance of a case manager to help access this specialist treatment. Emma’s damages have been invested in the Court of Protection and is managed by an Irwin Mitchell Deputy. Oscar's damages have been paid into a Trust to allow him to manage his money with the support of a Trustee. He has also received independent investment advice. They can now begin to rebuild their young lives.”
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