THOUSANDS of Shirley Oaks survivors and former residents of children’s homes run by Lambeth Council have been given renewed hope that they could finally receive justice for the appalling abuse they suffered as children.
Lambeth Council has announced they are to consider extending the Lambeth Children’s Home Redress Scheme into 2021, a multi-million-pound compensation scheme which offers payments of up to £125,000 for victims of historic physical and sexual abuse.
The scheme, which has been running since 2 January 2018, currently has a ‘cut off’ date for the submission of application forms. These must be submitted by 5pm on 1st January 2020, but Lambeth Council now plans to extend that time limit so the scheme runs until after the findings of a Public Enquiry are revealed.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) for children who were in the care of Lambeth Council is expected to be reported in 2021.
EXTENSION IS ‘MORALLY RIGHT’ MOVE
Malcolm Johnson, a leading child abuse solicitor representing 75 former residents of Lambeth homes who were in care from the 1950s to 1990s, believes the deadline extension is the ‘morally right thing to do’ so that as many former victims can receive the justice they deserve.
Mr Johnson, Head of the Child Abuse Department at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “Without doubt, the stories that continue to emerge from these homes are some of worst I have ever heard from children in care.
“There are still thousands of former children in care out there, who will have suffered abuse in the appalling system run by Lambeth who are entitled to redress.
“Sadly, many of these have yet to come forward because they often remain badly traumatised or are too afraid to talk about the horrendous abuse which they experienced.
“Many of these children suffered abhorrent levels of physical, mental and sexual abuse at the hands of people who were supposed to be caring for them.
“Extending this deadline beyond the 2021 Public Enquiry is the morally right thing to do because they should be allowed to have their voices and experiences heard before receiving the justice they deserve.”
ENQUIRY TO PUT ISSUE BACK IN SPOTLIGHT
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), led by Professor Alexis Jay, is currently involved in 13 investigations into allegations against local authorities, religious organisations, the armed forces, public and private institutions and people in the public eye.
As part of this, it has been tasked with investigating the extent to which institutions run by Lambeth Council failed to protect the children placed within its care.
Mr Johnson, who helped set up the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL), hopes the 2021 Public Enquiry date will put the issue back in the public spotlight and hold those who were responsible to account.
“Unfortunately, this scandal has not received the coverage or condemnation it deserves,” said Mr Johnson, who is taking a group action on behalf of all the survivors he represents so they don’t need to individually give evidence or relive their traumatic experiences.
“These children were the innocent victims of a systematic paedophile ring which should never have been allowed to happen.
“For many survivors nothing we can say or do will ever heal the pain, suffering and damage they have experienced.
“Now that the clock is ticking for them to receive the justice they deserve, I would urge them to come forward so that those responsible can finally be held to account.”
If you or someone you know has been affected by the Lambeth abuse scandal, please get in touch for free and confidential legal advice.