Irwin Mitchell Secure Funds For More People Subjected To Sexual And Physical Abuse
Families affected by one of the country’s worst child abuse scandals have spoken of how the assaults they suffered have impacted on their lives.
Hundreds of people have reported they were subjected to a range of abuse - including sexual, physical, racial and psychological abuse - while under the care of Lambeth Council. The abuse is believed to have stretched from the 1950s until a network of children’s homes run by the local authority closed in 1983.
The council admitted that it had failed to protect the children in its care and set up the Lambeth Redress scheme for those affected. This included a ‘Harm’s Way Payment’ of up to £10,000 to former residents as well as separate individual payments - based on an assessment of each individual case - for those subjected to abuse.
Lawyers secure settlements in connection with Lambeth Council abuse
Survivors have instructed specialist abuse lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to submit cases under the Redress Scheme to help them overcome the trauma of what they faced at the homes the best they can.
Two of the survivors are now urging others who were under the care of Lambeth Council not to suffer in silence and ensure they sign up to the Lambeth Redress scheme.
It comes after Irwin Mitchell secured three more settlements for families. The latest settlements, totalling nearly £400,000, follow on from a number of payments Irwin Mitchell secured for survivors last year.
A man and a woman who were both sexually abused are among those to receive the latest settlements. The children of a man who was abused as a child while under local authority care have also received damages. The man died in his 50s from liver disease caused by drinking which his family said was the result of the abuse.
Expert Opinion“The widespread abuse that was allowed to manifest itself in children’s homes, foster homes and other residential facilities run by Lambeth Council may be well documented but is nonetheless shocking.
“Some of society’s most vulnerable children were subjected to the most unimaginable ordeals by some of those entrusted to care for them. The impact of what happened to our clients continues to affect them to this day.
“They have shown great bravery in reporting what happened to them. While nothing can ever make up for the abuse they suffered, we hope these vital funds will allow them to access the counselling and other support they require to try and look to the future.
“It’s vital that survivors of abuse don’t suffer in silence. We hope survivors will be comforted by the knowledge that the local authority will treat their complaints with the utmost sensitivity and seriousness.” Peter Lorence - Senior Associate Solicitor
Lambeth Council abuse redress scheme
The original closing date to sign up to the Lambeth Redress scheme of 1 January, 2020, has been extended until 1 January, 2022.
The Shirley Oaks Survivors Association is an action group set up by Lambeth survivors. One of the homes where abuse took place was Shirley Oaks. The group supports many of those who suffered sexual, mental, racial and physical abuse while under the care of Lambeth Council and were instrumental in the creation of the Redress scheme.
For more information visit www.shirleyoakssurvivorsassociation.co.uk
Woman sexually and physically abused at Shirley Oaks
One woman who contacted Irwin Mitchell told how she was subjected to sexual and physical abuse while a resident at Shirley Oaks in Surrey.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was repeatedly sexually abused over several years in the 1970s and was also beaten around the face, head and body with a sandal.
On occasions she was forced to sit at the table with no meal and watch others eat before having to do the washing up. She was not allowed sanitary towels and was given cotton wool and cottons squares which she had to wash.
The woman believed her siblings, who were also under the care of Lambeth Council, were also being abused. When she complained to a social worker and her mum she was banned from seeing her siblings.
She left local authority care when she turned 16.
After contacting Irwin Mitchell she was awarded £93,000 as part of the redress scheme.
Abuse survivor urges others not to suffer alone
The woman, now in her 60s and a mum-of-two, said: “For years my life was hell. It felt like each day something bad would happen.
“I was repeatedly abused but afterwards the perpetrator would always threaten me saying it wasn’t worth saying anything because no one would believe me.
“I tried to tell people from time to time but I was never believed and always branded a liar.
“When I finally left Shirley Oaks at 16 to start work I was very insecure and distrustful of people.
“On leaving Shirley Oaks, I felt like I was a bad person, not worth anything, dirty and a trouble maker.
“I’m proud of my family and have tried to make the most of life and worked hard to ensure my children didn’t have the childhood I had.
“However, I remain very angry about the way I was treated by Lambeth Council. I just hope that by speaking out, others who may find themselves in a similar position don’t feel they have to be alone. Help is out there.”
Man remained broken little boy after Shirley Oaks child abuse
A man was also sexually abused over a four year period while at Shirley Oaks in the 1970s. After leaving school he joined the military and had a successful career. However, he had to be medically discharged.
After leaving the military he struggled without a routine. He died several years ago.
His family, who don’t want to name the man, have received a settlement of £125,000.
The man’s sister said: “Prior to going to Shirley Oaks teachers would comment on how he was a pleasant and well-mannered boy. However as the abuse started be became more withdrawn and sensitive and there was a marked deterioration in his behaviour.
“His career in the military helped him manage his demons, giving him structure and
purpose to his life. He made a real success of his career but having to be medically discharged was a real blow. He couldn’t cope with what happened and could no longer compartmentalise his demons which he could in the military.
“While he gave the impression of being confident, inside he remained a broken little boy because of what happened at Shirley Oaks.
“Seeing him suffer because of everything that happened was heartbreaking. He was a decent man that was damaged beyond repair due to what happened to him as a child. We all remain devastated that he is no longer here and if he was he could now receive the care he needed to try and come to terms with what happened.”
Settlement for man targeted by Leslie Paul
The third settlement Irwin Mitchell secured relates to a man who was repeatedly abused while staying at a Lambeth Council run home in the 1980s.
One of those who targeted him was care worker Leslie Paul. In 2016 the then 64-year-old of Islington, north London, was jailed for 13 years in connection with 17 child sex offences he committed between 1980 and 1988.
On one occasion the man, now in his 50s, was driven to a house and abused by four men.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, received a settlement of £160,000.
He said: “I was very angry about what had happened to me. I would become violent if something triggered a memory about the abuse. I had promised myself that I would never allow anyone to harm me or my family again.
“Instead of risking confrontation, I have usually chosen to avoid company altogether. I couldn’t work with or for others and felt I had no choice but to work for myself.”
The man said as a child he had tried to report what had happened but nobody believed him.
Lambeth abuse survivor looking to the future
He received help from support group the Shirley Oaks Survivors’ Association and contributed to the criminal investigation that resulted in Paul being jailed.
The man added: “For years I didn’t consider going to the police as no-one had believed me before when I mentioned the abuse.
“For years I had a mistrust of people which held me back in relationships, daily life and employment.
“But finally getting everything off my chest was a huge relief. Up to that point, I had been carrying the sense that I was somehow guilty, dirty and worthless for what had happened to me.
“I can’t thank enough those who have helped get to this point. I still face many issues to try and overcome everything I’ve been through but I’m now determined to try and not let the abuse I suffered ruin my life. I want to try and look to the future.”
Find out more about our expertise in supporting survivors of abuse at our dedicated abuse and criminal injuries section. Alternatively to speak to an expert contact us or call 0370 1500 100.