Our client was born in 1987. He lived with his stepfather and mother who were known heroin addicts. She was abused by both with the more extreme physical abuse being perpetrated by the stepfather. She was also sexually abused. Social services first became involved with the family in 1996 when they were told that our client was frequently absent from school. In fact he did not attend school for 2½ years.
In 1998 there was a report that our client was covered in bruises. A child protection visit to his home revealed that he was being left alone during the day and night being locked in the house and was badly malnourished with no food or furniture in the house or no electric lights. He was also left without clothing.
He was still not taken into care until aged 12 when he presented himself to a police station asking if he could be taken into care.
Irwin Mitchell took over this case from another firm of solicitors at the request of the Official Solicitor. When our client reached 18, we carried on acting for him personally. We put forward a claim that he suffered physical and emotional abuse and neglect between 1996 and 2000. When he was assessed by a psychiatrist for the claim, he disclosed sexual abuse which he had not been able to speak about previously.
Proceedings were issued in the High Court and the solicitors for the local authority made a partial admission of liability admitting to a 2 year delay in protecting our client. The first offer was made of £25,000 followed by an increased offer of £45,000. A Claimant’s offer of £80,000 was made and a settlement meeting was arranged to see if agreement could be reached.
Our client had previously pursued a complaint against the local authority to the Local Government Ombudsman. The Ombudsman had awarded him £20,000 in respect of maladministration. It was not clear in law whether it was necessary for him to give credit for this award when settling his case. This was compromised.
The settlement meeting resulted in a successful award of £70,000. The local authority also agreed to a apology meeting between a senior official of the council and our client so that he was able to be sure that the lessons of his case had been taken on board.
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