Friday, 16 May 2014

Is it any surprise that more suspects have arisen in the Knowl View Rochdale Cyril Smith scandal?

Cyril Smith
Yesterday it was announced by the police Operation Jaguar, who are investigating the allegations of abuse against Cyril Smith and his connections with the residential home Knowl View in Rochdale that more victims have come forward thus widening the investigation to 21 alleged abusers at the home.

Apparently 7 men have made allegations to the police which will be investigated.

Police said the men claimed they were abused by Smith at Knowl View in Rochdale in the 1970s and 1980s.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said there were now 21 suspects, 14 of whom it had identified, including Smith.

Police said three new alleged victims of abuse at Knowl View have come forward bringing the total to ten. Seven of the 10 allege abuse by Smith.

Here at QualitySolicitors Abney Garsden, we act for one victim of severe sexual abuse at Knowl View. We are anxious to speak to anyone who can help us in any way with what went on there. In particular we would like to speak to other victims of abuse there, so that we can build our case and make it stronger. As the abuse happened many years we need as much corroborative evidence as we can find.

I appeared on BBC News North West to give my opinion. I was asked if it surprised me that more allegations had arisen. My reply was a little melodramatic that paedophiles hunt in packs. It is true, however that at most of the homes we have looked at from the 60's, 70's, and 80's, where abuse took place, there were more than one sex offender care worker operating at the home, at one time. Whether or not they all knew what other was doing is not proven but likely. Some have attempted to trace links in the past.

As Detective Inspector Terry Oates, from Warrington Police said to me in 1996 when was investigating Greytone Heath, a home infested with sex offenders, "I like golf so I go to a golf club to play. Paedophiles like children, so go somewhere they can find them. They don't have to operate sophisticated rings because the children are all there for them to abuse whenever they like."

At one time 41 out of 43 police forces in this country back in the late 1990's had a major children's home investigation in the area. Manchester investigated 66 homes, and Merseyside 89 homes to quote just two counties.

Here at QualitySolicitors Abney Garsden, we are not only looking at Knowl View, but Foxholes in Rochdale where abuse also took place. There are other issues with Rochdale which have captured the media. Whether or not there is something sinister about the town is difficult to prove.

One simply hopes that the victims get the justice they truly deserve after being fobbed off for so many years.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Will the sentence of Max Clifford send out a good message?

Max Clifford with his daughter
With the failure of the prosecutions of several recent high profile celebrities for abusing young girls, the media and the allegedly falsely accused were starting to question whether mounting multi claimant cases of abuse from many years ago was a sensible way to spend public money.

The recent conviction, and sentence today of Max Clifford justifies all the hard work put in by Operation Yewtree at the Met Police.

I just hope that the prison sentence is long enough to make the victims think they have got justice. Despite his protestations at trial his victims will be after acceptance that they are telling the truth. They want to be believed and have the satisfaction of feeling valued rather than guilty for what happened, which is so often the case.

The word is that the sentence may be as low as 2 years because the judge is bound by guidelines which were in force at the time the offences were committed ie the 70's and 80's rather than the present day.

The point is that most victims of abuse keep their experiences a secret because of fear and shame until much later in life, so a ban on prosecutions of events taking place years ago, would be catastrophic for victims. It would also have a very wide impact upon not only celebrity cases but also the vast majority of "normal" abuse cases of family members, professionals etc.

It has emerged in the press that earlier this year ago Clifford took out an unexplained £3.5m mortgage on his Surrey mansion with the suggestion being he wanted to put his money out of reach of victims looking for compensation. The civil courts have power to reverse transaction designed to avoid the payment of debts where it was done with that sole intention. It does seem to be the sort of thing someone expected to pay large amounts of compensation to do, but borders upon dishonesty. After all, aren't the victims entitled to be compensated for the suffering they have endured?

It is also said that a divorce is likely, and if so, the victims will be competing with his estranged wife for a slice of the pie. The question is, what has happened to the money raised by the mortgage? Some, no doubt was used to pay legal fees.

Let us hope that the victims obtain some sort of closure after today.

Hopefully I can give my views on BBC News 24 this afternoon.