When I was first instructed to represent families of children who had been sexually abused by paedophile doctor Myles Bradbury, I was immediately struck by the high regard and admiration with which he had been held by those who eventually brought him to justice.
Bradbury was a serial abuser. He exploited his job as a respected paediatrician at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge to target boys over a period of four years, all aged between eight and 16 and whom had suffered from cancer or blood disorders.
To the families, Bradbury was the ‘supportive and charming’ doctor helping their children through the toughest of times. He was respected and liked by almost all, and had therefore created the perfect mask from behind which he could commit his awful crimes.
One of my clients was the grandson of the lady who lifted the lid as to what was going on which finally brought Bradbury to justice – leading to him being jailed for 22 years, resulting in many other victims finally having access to much needed emotional, psychiatric and psychological support.
She may not have been the first to suspect any wrongdoing by Bradbury. She was though, the first to take action.
Grandmother’s complaint uncovered systematic abuse
“We all felt something was wrong, but we also recognised we had to be careful in how we handled it,” she said at the time.
“We slept on it but the next morning I woke up angry and knew I had to do something. The important thing was that I believed my grandson. We have always been so close, so I can sense when something isn’t right.
“Now, when I look back, I am so glad we listened to him. Not only for our family, but for the many other victims, and those who would no doubt have been victims of Bradbury in the future.”
New case of Whitchurch GP has similar pattern of growing number of victims
In recent weeks my colleague Victoria Neale has been handling a similar situation which now sees a growing legal and police investigation being conducted in the small Shropshire town of Whitchurch.
It all centres on alleged abuse by a former GP in the town, who died 17 years ago, but appears to have left behind many troubled and traumatised former patients.
The first complaint was not made to police until a couple of years ago, not long after the case of serial sexual abuser Jimmy Savile had made headline news.
That remained the sole complaint until the same man, who alleges to have been abused between the ages of nine and 13 and is now in his 50s, wrote an anonymous article in his local newspaper earlier this year.
That article led to a number of others coming forward, naming the same GP as being the abuser, and sparked a full police investigation.
However, these cases have demonstrated that people who have suffered at the hands of abusers will be listened to.
The people and support networks are out there to talk to.
In some cases speaking out brings convictions for those responsible, in others the alleged offenders may no longer be alive.
However, talking can open doors to vital support which many people have often badly needed for years.
As someone who plays a small part in that overall support package, helping people take a first step towards hopefully finding some closure is always something I am immensely proud to do.