IICSA update

Following conclusion of the substantive hearings in the child migration case study the IICSA is making progress across many areas. It is also gradually making its position clear on how it will deal with evidence and the conclusions it will reach including on the thorny issue of whether it needs to make findings of fact about specific allegations.

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Extension of vicarious liability to independent contractors

In advance of what may be a large number of claims against sports organisations, particularly football teams, legal determination on the extent of vicarious liability for independent contractors is timely. A trial of a preliminary issue in Various Claimants v Barclays Bank Plc [2017] EWHC 1929 (QB) concluded that Barclays (“the Bank”)  was vicariously liable for the intentional sexual assaults of a doctor retained to conduct pre-employment medical examinations of prospective employees.

A group of 126 claimants are pursuing claims against the Bank for damages for alleged sexual assaults perpetrated by a Dr G Bates between 1968-1984. The allegations emerged in 2013, when a police investigation took place, but the doctor had died in 2009 so there was no criminal prosecution.

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Royal Assent granted to Scottish Limitation Abolition Bill

On 28 July 2017, the Bill to retrospectively abolish limitation in cases of childhood abuse received Royal Assent. The Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017 is now, therefore, on the statute book.

The grant of Royal Assent does not, though, bring the provisions of the Act into force. Subsequent regulations by Scottish Ministers will do that. Present indications suggest that those may be produced this Autumn.

Written by Frank Hughes and Siobhan Kelly, partners at BLM

Mum’s the word – CQC report on adult social care services

The majority of adult social care services provide safe and high quality care but there are still too many instances of poor care. As the CQC is itself criticised for failing to act appropriately in the case of covering up a suspected rape, the CQC’s State of Adult Social Care Services 2014-2017 has much worthy of more detailed consideration and lessons to learn.

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Abuse within sport – the story continues

Accusations of abuse within the sporting world are continuing to hit the headlines. Barry Bennell, the former Crewe Alexandra football coach has been accused by former footballer Andy Woodward of allegations of sexual assault. This allegation led to numerous other former players coming forward and he is now facing a total of 55 counts of non-recent sexual abuse against boys as young as 11.

In the meantime, John Marshall, a former youth coach based in the Newcastle area has been charged with eight non-recent offences on three boys aged between 12 and 14. Bob Higgins, former youth coach with Southampton has recently been charged with 65 counts of non-recent sexual abuse against 23 three boys and is due to appear in court later this month.

It is understood that both Bennell and Marshall deny the charges but it is not known how Higgins will plead.

After an initial period of uncertainty, The Offside Trust, set up by ex-footballer Steve Walters and former professional golfer Chris Unsworth in the wake of the Bennell allegations, has now started to gather momentum by relaunching its website and outlining its key aims to end abuse in support and to support those in all sports that are survivors or abuse.

These matters concern ‘non-recent’ allegations of abuse in football however it is clear that there are issues in many others sports too, which may also be (in some situations) more recent:

  • Rugby – David Simmons, a 26 year old rugby coach who ran sessions at venues in south west London has recently been jailed after pleading guilty to 17 sexual offences, including sexual assault, after it emerged that he used to covertly film young players in changing rooms.
  • Swimming – British Swimming is conducting an investigation into a number of allegations of bullying made by Paralympians against a coach.
  • Canoeing – Earlier this year it was revealed that the governing body of British Canoeing was beginning an independent investigation into a formal complaint made last year.
  • Cycling – A report on allegations of bullying and sexism in British Cycling is soon to be published.
  • Bobsleigh – A number of athletes have also raised concerns to the British Bobsleigh and Skeleton Association in respect of incidents of ‘bullying, racism, sexism and discrimination’.
  • Archery – A senior British archery coach has been suspended this month following a complaint to police over an alleged sexual assault involving a young female Para-athlete.

It is clear that safeguarding and responding to allegations of abuse within sport are issues which need to be addressed and they are not simply something that may have happened in the past.  One positive step is that it appears that survivors of abuse within sporting environments now feel more able and willing to bravely step forward and report what has happened to them.

Milton_David_web Written by David Milton, partner at BLM

Commissioning of support services for victims and survivors; provider’s viewpoint

The final discussion of last week’s IICSA seminars touched on commissioning of support service from a provider’s viewpoint, primarily focused on the reasons for inaction and inefficiencies within the support services.

Professor Cooper of the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust stated that in preparation for his attendance at IICSA he had spoken to experienced clinical social work practitioners who expressed to him a sense of fear in handling child sexual abuse (CSA) issues. As a result of this fear Professor Cooper asserted that professionals who may otherwise be competent and well trained were unable to cope effectively when faced with allegations of CSA, resulting in the inaction which characterised the critique of service providers in previous panel discussions. The panel discussed the reasons behind this sense of fear:

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Support Services for child victims of CSA and their families

On Wednesday 5 July 2015 the IICSA held a second day of seminars focusing first on the presentation and discussion of what can be gleaned from academic literature in respect of effective support services for child victims. This was by reference to a Rapid Evidence Assessment (“REA”) completed by Professor Lorraine Radford and her team at the University of Central Lancashire titled “What can be learnt from other jurisdictions about preventing and responding to child sexual abuse”.

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