Children’s Society paid damages to victims of sex abuse – Telegraph.co.uk
The organisation had been implicated in the shocking scandal of children sent abroad – largely to Australia – where they suffered abuse but has now realised it was also culpable on a larger scale over child sex abuse in the UK.
A spokesman for The Children’s Society, which has a £40m annual income and whose trustees include the Church of England’s first woman bishop the Rt Rev Libby Lane, said the charity had paid damages in 20 cases for historic abuse.
The claims were first brought in the 1990s but incidents took place as early as the 1950s. In a further 33 cases, victims had been given counselling and support but had not sought financial recompense for their suffering.
The charity has declined to say whether any particular children’s homes that it ran had seen higher levels of abuse than others. But the spokesman insisted that by making its public apology it no longer wished to “hide” past mistakes.
The Children’s Society has now launched a hotline to make it easier for further victims to come forward and begun an independent review of the charity’s handling of claims as well as of wrongdoing.
The charity added: “We acknowledge that a public apology is long overdue.
“We want to face up to these past mistakes, learn from the failings, and ensure that children today are protected from abuse, both now and in the future, by being true to our values of putting children and young people first.”
The apology will be welcomed by victims groups. Children’s homes were vulnerable to targeting by paedophiles at a time when proper safeguarding measures were not in place. Authorities tended to ignore complaints from disadvantaged children making allegations against staff and other senior figures in the community.
Richard Scorer, specialist abuse lawyer at Slater & Gordon, who has settled claims in the past against the charity, said: “This apology is welcome but it should have been made years ago. The Children’s Society has been aware for many years that children in its care were abused and it is regrettable that victims have had to wait so long, and that the apology has only come under the pressure of scrutiny in IICSA.
“Now the apology has been given the Children’s Society needs to match its words with proper support for survivors”.
The compensation payments to victims are understood to have been paid out over the last 20 years, but have never been acknowledged by the Children’s Society until now.