Nugent Care issues apology to survivors of abuse at Liverpool’s St Aidan’s care home
A man who suffered ‘horrific and sustained’ physical and sexual abuse whilst a resident at St Aidan’s Children’s Home in Liverpool in the 70s has urged the trustees of the charity responsible for his care to ensure that all victims are made aware of their deep regret over the ‘appalling crimes’.
The call to action comes after a barrister for Nugent Care read out an apology on behalf of the charity’s chair of the trustees, Father Michael Fitzsimons, at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) hearing in December 2018.
But despite addressing all of the victims of abuse at the Children’s Home in Widnes during the speech, one victim – who gave evidence at the inquiry and wishes to remain anonymous – has voiced concerns that the apology will ‘never reach the ears’ of dozens of people affected, as most were not present at the hearing.
The 61-year-old, from Merseyside, who continues to suffer as a result of the abuse he sustained during his time at St Aidan’s in the 70s when he was just 13 years old, said: “Whilst some of the abused did receive compensation for failings in their care many, including myself, have never received any form of recognition for what happened to them, despite the evidence being so clearly accepted in court.
“To that end, this apology, whilst long, long overdue, is welcome, after many years of fighting for answers, recognition and justice.
“However, for dozens of victims who were not involved in the inquiry they many never know that this has now taken place, and I would urge Nugent Care to do everything in its power to ensure that they publicise their apology far and wide to prevent that from happening.”
The man’s lawyer, abuse law expert Peter Garsden from Simpson Millar, who was one of the solicitors involved in a group action against Nugent Care on behalf of the abuse survivors which concluded in 2010, and who also gave evidence at the recent IICSA, said: “The abuse survivors who suffered horrifically whilst in the care of St Aidan’s have waited many decades for this apology. It is incomprehensible to think that it may never reach their ears, and Nugent Care should do all it takes to ensure that does not happen!
“Whilst it is by no means a remedy to the abuse they endured, it can provide an important validation of their courage, and a first step towards healing.”
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse heard that dozens of boys were sexually abused at the children’s home in Widnes in the 1960, 70s and 80s. To date, around 50 people have reported that they were sexually abused by staff.
The investigations into allegations began in 1994, before it turned into a major investigation in which 70 people were identified as suspects.
In 1999, some of those affected brought legal action against Nugent Care in a bid to hold those responsible for their care accountable. It took more than a decade for the case to conclude and for compensation to be paid to some of the victims.
However, despite 10 people being arrested and charged which resulted in four convictions, as well as 10 other suspected offenders dying before they could be charged, in the case of many victims Nugent Care denied liability and refused compensation to victims on the grounds that they were ‘out of time’ to bring a claim.
Speaking at the Inquiry last month, a spokesperson, acting on behalf of Nugent Care, read from a letter dated 11 December, 2018, which said that the trustees of the charity are ‘deeply sorry’ that former residents suffered under the abuse at the hands of employees.
Calling the actions of those staff members ‘appalling crimes’, the letter signed by Father Michael Fitzsimons, chair of the trustees, went on to say that it was with regret that residents continue to feel the effects of the hurt and trauma they have experienced, and whilst they will never be able to right the wrongs of the individuals who committed the crimes ‘we can, and we should, recognise and acknowledge what has taken place’.
Garsden, who is from Simpson Millar’s abuse law team, said: “This apology comes more than eight years after the legal action concluded. That’s a long time, and many of those who were involved in the group action have moved.
“Despite acknowledging during the inquiry that there are many, many victims who suffered as children whilst in the care of Nugent, to my knowledge the charity has made no attempt to reach out to the individuals to ensure they are aware of the statement that was given during the recent abuse inquiry, and so, for the most part, it’s fallen on deaf ears.”
Garsden went on to say that whilst his team at Simpson Millar had sent letters to all former clients, many had been returned, as the people were no longer living at the same address.
He said: “It’s deeply upsetting to think that some of the victims still have no clue that Nugent Care has finally said sorry. For many, that might just be a bit of closure that they need. Whilst more should be done by Nugent care to ensure that these victims are properly and respectfully informed about the apology, they have suggested that we contact the survivors.”