Lambeth sex abuse survivors demand new inquiry into police failings

Survivors have demanded a new and independent inquiry into police involvement in historic child abuse in Lambeth over police involvement in the scandal. 

The leader of Shirley Oaks Survivors Association has said an independent inquiry into abuse led by Alexis Jay, whose findings were published on Tuesday, should have spelt out that there was an organised ring of paedophiles in the borough. 

SOSA’s own investigation has helped abused former care home residents to claim £70million – and town hall chiefs agree the figure could rise to £111million. It uncovered claims against 177 members of staff. 

Raymond Stevenson claimed on Tuesday that cops were among the perpetrators in the organised paedophile ring. 

He has been backed by human rights lawyer Imran Khan – who represented Stephen Lawrence’s family after the teenager was murdered – who said: “The evidence suggests there was a ring of people and it was covered up. 

“To suggest the offences were just individual failings is also a failure in itself. There were 700 reports of sexual abuse but only a handful were prosecuted. That is not individual failures – it is institutional systematic failure. 

“Why did the police not investigate and prosecute individuals identified by the SOSA? 

“This report has failed. We know what happened because the survivors have told us, so we do not need to hear that again. What we needed was an explanation of why. Unless we investigate further we will not get answers.” 

Raymond Stevenson added: “We knew there had been a cover-up and the police and Lambeth council were involved. Both were infested with corrupt officers and paedophiles. 

“Abuse was on an industrial scale. Both parties had a vested interest in burying the truth because both had been infested with corrupt officers and paedophiles. 

“We identified 1,800 victims of abuse, 800 victims of sexual abuse – but police only charged a handful. We are not cleverer than anyone – we are just honest people trying to find the truth. 

“In our own investigation we have identified 100 paedophiles – senior Lambeth officers, councillors, social workers, managers of care homes, doctors, priests, swimming instructors, football coaches and many more. 

One of the 52 houses at Shirley Oaks

“We knew it was an organised ring from Day Dot. The names of paedophiles kept reappearing. The inquiry is part of the problem because it has failed to grasp what was going on. 

“There was only a brief mention of high profile doctors using drugs.

“Babies were involved – infantophilia was going on at Angell Road. 

“Some issues are so shocking. The inquiry dumped documents online at the end of the inquiry, preventing our lawyers from asking questions about each one during the hearings. 

“One of these documents showed that during Operation Middleton in 1998, the police had withheld information from the Crown Prosecution Service, to protect a senior police officer and the Met. 

“To demonstrate that Lambeth were also complicit in this, when our lawyers made a Freedom of Information request on our behalf relating to this document, Lambeth gave conflicting responses but have still not provided us with this document – we have now obtained an unredacted copy. 

“We were told a senior officer persuaded Middleton not to give all its evidence to the Alexis Jay inquiry, citing that it would be a hostile environment. Retired police officers were used by the Jay inquiry – but they removed documents and were not required to give evidence by Jay. 

“John Carroll [later convicted of abuse] was used in some investigation work – but the police covered that up. 

“The justification for the failure of Middleton was a lack of funding and resources. The truth is that there was a cover-up. 

“Our investigation in comparison followed the obvious leads which any police force should have SOSA claim failings in Operation Middleton followed. The police were determined not to uncover the truth and the national Inquiry continued in this vein and I guess this is what you get when the Home Office, the puppet masters, are pulling the strings. 

“This will continue until there is a full and honest investigation, along the lines of the Daniel Morgan panel. The Jay report continues this cover-up. 

“If we had been white we would have been applauded. Luckily, we did not do it for that. 

“We were accused of trying to inflate survivors’ claims, and police said we were encouraging members to make up stories. Afterwards, they said sorry. 

“Lambeth treated care home residents with contempt. They spent £100 on black children and £300 on white children. White children’s homes were part of the redress scheme but black homes were excluded. 

“But there was no discriminating in the abuse. We want justice for everyone.” 

LAMBETH RE-STATE THEIR APOLOGY

Lambeth Council already is already delivering on the three recommendations made by the inquiry:

 

  • An action plan is being delivered but we will refresh this in light of careful consideration of the full report published today
  • Elected members have taken part in updated training and we will continually update this on a rolling basis
  • Relevant staff, including those contracted to run children’s homes, foster and other carers and elected members have had DBS checks and the proper vetting – we will regularly review this’.

 The IICSA report says: Lambeth Council and the Metropolitan Police Service should each publish its response to these recommendations, including the timetable involved, within six months of the publication of this report.

 Cllr Claire Holland, Lambeth Council Leader, said: “The Shirley Oaks Survivors Association addressed the council in 2015 to highlight the appalling treatment and the experiences of their many members as children placed in Lambeth children’s homes.  

“Without the courage that survivors and victims have shown in coming forward to share their experiences, the council of today would not have been able to fully understand the breadth, depth and long-standing nature of its past failures to protect children in its care.  

“Lambeth council wishes to re-state our sincere and heartfelt apology to all victims and survivors of abuse and neglect whilst in Lambeth’s care. The council, which was responsible for their care and protection, failed to do so with profound consequences. We are deeply sorry for their experiences. 

“The extent and scale of the horrendous abuse, which took place over many decades, remains deeply shocking. The council failed to acknowledge concerns when they arose, often failed to believe children when they disclosed abuse and then failed to take effective action.

“That so many children and adults were not believed compounded their experiences and caused further pain and distress with lifelong impacts. The council takes responsibility for contributing to conditions in which adults were able to abuse with apparent impunity. Lambeth also recognises that children from Black and Multi-Ethnic communities suffered disproportionately despite a range of policies intended to better meet their needs.

 “The Lambeth Children’s Homes Redress scheme is the first of its kind for any local authority in the country, and has paid out more than £71 million in compensation. We set this up because there is no national government scheme to provide compensation for survivors. We worked with survivors on developing the scheme, and acknowledge that its establishment was a difficult process.

 “The council shared more than 300,000 pages of documents with the IICSA enquiry, and would act cooperatively and willingly with any further investigations. We will also continue to listen to survivors and victims as we formulate our proposals to formally mark, and ensure, the events of the past in our borough are never forgotten.”

But Tim Briggs, sole Conservative councillor on Lambeth Council, said: “Anyone who has read any part of the Report on the abuse of children in the care of Lambeth Council will be disgusted and alarmed. The extreme abuse of defenceless children by paedophiles and sadists in Lambeth over decades is stomach-churning. Lives were
devastated.
“The question is not just how this sexual and physical abuse could happen, but how it could
happen for decades.
“The Inquiry has confirmed a historic culture of inward-looking incompetence at our Council,
which developed in the 1980s into a politicised, far-Left Council culture of actively opposing
mainstream values of scrutiny and good practice, and of turning a blind eye to
underperforming staff because they appeared to be on the Labour councillors’ side in the
‘struggle’ against the Government.
“For the best part of 50 years under Labour control, there has never been any discussion or
debate at Lambeth Council as to why this atrocity was allowed to happen, and to what
extent, if at all, the political and administrative culture of the Council has moved on.
“In 2016 OFSTED reported that the Children’s Services Department at Lambeth Council was
‘Inadequate’ and putting children at risk. At the 2019 general election, the national Labour
party proposed abolishing OFSTED.
“On 2 nd June 2021 I made a speech at a Full Council Meeting welcoming the new Leader of
the Council Claire Holland. I said that there were reasons why this atrocity happened in
Lambeth, that the Council still had a ‘one-party state’ mentality, and that there needed to be
deep and significant institutional reforms to get rid of that mentality, and instead, an
institutionalisation of openness, honesty, integrity and accountability.
“At the next meeting in on 21 st July 2021 the Labour councillors voted to exclude a summary
of the speech from the minutes, showing a complete failure to take on board constructive
criticism.
“What happened was an abomination, and it must never happen again. On behalf of the
Conservative Group in Lambeth I am recommending that the Constitution for Lambeth
Council, which determines how the Council is run, incorporates the Nolan Principles into its
procedures, as an ‘Overriding Objective’ which informs all decision-making by all councillors
and council officers.
“Councillors and council officers should be guided by the principles of Selflessness, Integrity,
Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership, so that every decision they take on behalf of residents is justified according to the Overriding Objective, rather than for
their own political ideology, or convenience.
2An Overriding Objective with these Nolan Principles on a statutory footing at the heart of a
new council constitution would reshape local government culture in Lambeth by making all
decisions accountable to these principles, and the interests of residents and children would
never again be ignored with such appalling consequences.”

RESPONSE FROM THE INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO CHILD SEX ABUSE

Inquiry chairman Prof Alexis Jay

A spokesman from IICSA stated that the main aim of the report was to examine the scale and nature of abuse that children in the care of Lambeth Council suffered and the Council’s failure to protect those children, hence the focus on the Council.

The report states: “The Metropolitan Police Service undertook a number of investigations into allegations of sexual abuse made by children in care and former children in care (including Operation Middleton) and recognised that it let victims of sexual abuse down in the past through its handling of investigations. It established Operation Winter Key in June 2015 to assist the Inquiry and to investigate allegations of non‑recent child sexual abuse by people of public prominence or institutions where there have been repeated failings. Detective Inspector Simon Morley provided nine comprehensive statements in response to a number of detailed requests made by the Inquiry in this investigation and in addition Commander Murray gave oral evidence on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service.”

The report contains criticism of the police and points out where they failed to re-investigate certain allegations – for example against [the late] Donald Hosegood, [a Shirley Oaks house parent whose case against him collapsed] – and one of the recommendations is to ask the police to consider whether it needs to reopen an investigation into the death of LA-A2 as it appears it was not given all the facts surrounding the case.

 

THE CLAIMS OF POLICE FAILURE

During OperationMiddleton, there were
numerous failings that demonstrate the
cover-up that had taken place within the
Met, claims the SOSA.
They say:
* Police engaged John Carroll,
Lambeth’s most prolific paedophile to
work on investigating child abuse in
Lambeth.
* Police hid the fact that one of their
officers abused multiple children in
Southvale Children’s Home.
* Police announced that a paedophile
who was a freemason had died when in
fact he lived for a further 10 years.
* A police officer who was investigating
child abuse during OperationMiddleton
went on to abuse one of the victims in
1999.
* Police covered up a suspect who was
implicated in the death of Peter Davis, a
boy who supposedly hung himself in
Shirley Oaks.
* The police withheld information from
the Crown Prosecution Service that
would have supported allegations that a
senior police officer who was a Lambeth
foster carer had abused two girls in his
care.
* Police provided contradictory
evidence to a recent Independent Office
of Police Conduct investigation and the
national inquiry.
* Police covered up the fact that two
paedophiles who had worked at Angell
Road Children’s Home went on to
contract AIDS and we now know that
three survivors went on to contract
AIDS. They believe that other children from
Angell Road may also have died from
AIDS.
* The issue of children contracting
AIDS after their time at Angell Road was
covered up due to allegations having
been made that police officers and
politicians had abused children at
Angell Road.

METROPOLITAN POLICE

Commander Alex Murray

Commander Alex Murray, of the Metropolitan Police Service, said:“We welcome the report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

“There are victims and families who have waited years for this, and I hope today’s publication brings some answers.

“It is clear that at different times we missed opportunities to identify offenders and investigate further. Some of the treatment of children was also unacceptable.

“We are sorry for when we let children in the care of Lambeth down.

“As the report notes, we have changed the way we investigate allegations of child sexual abuse, with better training for officers, greater collaboration between social care partners, and putting the victim at the heart of the investigation. We are building a culture of professional curiosity within the Met to ensure any officer with concerns about a child acts promptly and appropriately.

“We will ensure that any learning for the Met will be taken forward.

“We have received the recommendation by IICSA namely ‘the death of LA‑A2 whether the Met should consider whether there are grounds for a criminal investigation into Lambeth Council’s actions when providing information to the coroner about the circumstances surrounding LA‑A2’s death’, which we will now assess.

“We encourage anyone who has been the victim of child sex abuse to come forward and speak with us.”

Pictured, top: Tuesday’s press conference. Left to right, Dr Liz Davies, co-ordinator, Islington Survivors NetworkAlison Millar, solicitor for Leigh Day, Lisa Gafarov of Verisona Law, Malcolm Johnson of Lime Solicitors, Clive Driscoll – former police officer who gave evidence at IICSA, Raymond Stevenson of SOSA and Amy Clowry of Switalskis  Solicitors and Imran Khan

 


 

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