Friday, 10 June 2016

Child sex abuse stories buried under EU referendum hysteria

This blog was published in Monday's Huffington Post. Just before Clement Freud (BBC quizz show star & liberal MP) was exposed as a rampant paedophile.

Every child sex abuse news story triggers a Pavlovesque reaction in me. It’s as if a jagged blade is lodged in my heart and someone’s twisting it. The physical pain is searing.
Searing, but transient. It comes from having worked with, and opened my heart to, sexually abused children and adults. For survivors, the blade and the concomitant pain is constant. Every breath a possible trigger.
Stories of child sex abuse featured every day this week, albeit buried under EU referendum hysteria and spin. Although hard, survivors, who have often been silenced and disbelieved, welcome the truth about the scale of child sex being exposed to sunlight.
Twenty years after the Rotherham child abuse scandal, the first arrest was made yesterday. In the wake of the Jay report, which revealed the rape and trafficking of 1,400 children between 1997 and 2013, the National Crime Agency (NCA) began an investigation in 2014. This week it was announced that the investigation will take at least 8 years to complete. Two years in and having already been ignored by the South Yorkshire Police for a decade, this protracted timeline adds insult to injury for beleaguered survivors. Justice delayed is justice denied.
In January, Les Paul was convicted (for the third time) for abusing four boys whilst he was a care home manager in Lambeth in the 1980s. The Goddard historic child sex inquiry is currently investigating claims of high level systemic paedophile networks operating throughout Lambeth care homes in the 80’s and 90’s.
A recent Newsnight investigation revealed that, in 1986, Lambeth discovered that one of its care home managers, Michael Carroll, had a previous conviction of child abuse which he hadn’t disclosed in his job application. Yet, the conviction, and his failure to disclose it, did not result in his dismissal. It gets worse, when Carroll asked if he could turn one of the care homes into a centre to provide therapy for victims of child abuse, Lambeth agreed. It wasn’t until Carroll was sacked for fiddling his expenses in 1991 that the press was made aware of his child sex convictions.

In a report published yesterday, Leicestershire County Council pledged its full support for the Goddard historic child sex abuse inquiry. The council is one of several organisations required by law to contribute to the inquiry’s first investigation which is looking into allegations against former Leicester Labour MP Grenville Janner.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, some survivors have expressed misgivings about the pressure being brought to bear on Justice Goddard by lawyers representing the myriad of institutions accused of exposing children to abuse by powerful politicians.

When Justice Goddard took over the inquiry she promised to put survivors at its heart. If she is to instil trust and credibility, survivors’ voices cannot be silenced and side-lined by loquacious lawyers acting on behalf of powerful institutions and individuals.

I publicly criticised Justice Goddard’s predecessors. Their establishment links undermined trust amongst survivors, without which the inquiry could not claim credence. I gave Ms Goddard my conditional backing when she was appointed sixteen months ago. I said then and repeat again now, that survivors must have absolute trust in the integrity of the process. Otherwise, it will unravel.

Theresa May described the inquiry as “A once in a lifetime opportunity”. We owe it to survivors to get it right.

Other child sex abuse stories in the news this week:
·         Richard Huckle, described as “Britain’s worst paedophile”, was given 22 life sentences in a London court. He admitted to 71 charges of sexually abusing children in Malaysia and Cambodia from the ages of six months to twelve. He exploited sexual taboos to silence his victims.
·         While Nigel Farage was recently engaging in racist Brexit scaremongering about migrants sexually abusing Brits, a former UKIP aide, Aaron Knight, had just started a prison sentence for paedophile attacks on a boy.
·         A United Nations whistleblower, Anders Kompass, who was suspended for exposing the sexual abuse of children in the Central African Republic by peacekeepers, resigned over the organisation’s failure to hold senior officials to account.
·         Teenage sisters abducted a toddler from Primark in Newcastle. They had allegedly run internet searches on how to kidnap & rape children.

·        A former Eton student, Andrew Picard, eluded a prison sentence after making and sharing more than 2,000 graphic images of child abuse of children as young as two, which included rape and bestiality. His lawyers argued for leniency on the basis of the promising future that awaited him.

No comments: