Leading child abuse solicitor Peter Garsden has announced his intention to take Manchester City Council and the Department of Education to court in judicial review over their decision to launch an internal inquiry into alleged abuse by Jimmy Savile at various Manchester City Council children’s homes, including Broome House in Didsbury. Broome House is part of an ongoing group action, the largest ever for alleged child abuse.
Mr Garsden, who is leading the group action, argues that
- the council should not be running their current internal investigation because they are also defending compensation claims
- all investigations should remain independent.
- there should be a public enquiry
- no attempt has been made because of the impossibly short deadline given by the department of education (30th May) to contact residents who may have gone to Broomehouse when Savile was visiting.
This comes after the Secretary of State for Education ordered local authorities to conduct their own investigations, the firm submitted an appeal to the Court of Appeal in London to postpone a council imposed cut-off date on new claims for compensation, (when being made as part of the group action) being brought. Victims were originally told, at a hearing held before the High Court in Manchester in February, they must start court proceedings by May 7th 2014. As a result of the firm’s appeal this date has successfully been postponed.
Commenting on the inquiry Peter Garsden said: “I am so concerned that the Savile Review into Broome House Children’s Home is a half hearted attempt at a cover up that I am planning to take both the Government, and the Council to the High Court in Judicial Review
Not only has the Council refused to write to many of the victims, who have been abused by convicted care workers at the home such as Ronald Hall and Ian Gray, but also not contacted any of the children who might have been a target of Savile whilst he was active at the care home, even though their names appear clearly in Council records.
What does concern me is that the Council are tasked with investigating themselves. In my view the enquiry should be carried out independently by a retired judge or QC, who will properly oversee the collection of evidence.
The paper thin investigation has been provoked by an impossibly tight deadline set by Michael Gove at the Department of Education of 30th May. It was simply not possible to do a proper investigation in the time specified, which will inevitably lead to complaints of a cover up by those who undeniably have been abused at Broome House.
We have seen in the past the mistakes made in the North Wales Tribunal enquiry, when the local authority investigated itself, then refused to publish the report due to influence brought to bear by their insurers. The same thing could happen again, and the truth covered up due to a conflict of interest. Even the Law Commission in its report of 2004 has set out guidelines which the government have chosen to ignore.”
In May 2009 Simpson Millar, based in Stockport, were given High Court clearance to set up a second group of alleged victims who claimed they were abused while in the care of children’s homes run by the city council’s social services from the 1950’s to the 1990’s. The action centred on three main homes run by the City Council – Rosehill in Northenden, Broome House in Didsbury and Mobberley Boys in Knutsford. A Schedule of other homes where there have been allegations is attached to this press release. 452 alleged victims have joined the Group to date and 275 cases have been settled for £2,042,510 in total. The lowest settlement is £1,100 and the highest is £30,000 with the average compensation pay out being around £7,427.31.
In 2007 lead solicitor for the child abuse specialists Peter Garsden represented 168 claimants in the first group action, in which he managed to secure compensation amounting to nearly £2,260,000. The group was originally formed in response to a massive police investigation launched by Greater Manchester Police code named “Operation Cleopatra” from Grey Mare Lane Police Station. Starting in 1997 and concluding around 2002, it investigated 66 children’s homes in Greater Manchester, and prosecuted a number of individuals. Manchester City Council Social Services Department ran most of the homes. Former Broome House warden and assistant director of Manchester social services Ronald Hall was eventually jailed for 11 years, with Deputy Ian Gray given 14 years and ex-social worker Phillip Roe jailed for 12-and-a-half years.
The two Group Actions added together mean that compensation paid out to date amounts to £4,302,510 – the largest ever pay-out in any abuse Group Action. The eventual pay-out once all the cases settle is likely to be over £5 million.