Scottish Limitation Abolition Bill and Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry Update

The Scottish Parliament has confirmed that it will debate the Limitation Abolition Bill, at Stage 1, in the afternoon of Thursday 27 April.

In other news, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry, whose cost from its set-up on 1 October 2015 to 31 March 2017 has recently been confirmed at over £5.7m, has now set the timetable for Phase 1 of its Public Hearings. Commencing on 31 May there are evidence sessions scheduled to 9 June covering: Continue reading

Scottish Limitation Abolition Bill

The Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee has endorsed the general principles of the Bill proposing the retrospective abolition of limitation in cases of childhood abuse. Nonetheless, significant issues of detail and relevant concerns have been flagged in the Committee’s Stage 1 Report. This is now for further consideration by the Scottish Government. We summarise the position taken by the Committee on pre-26 September 1964 abuse then list the issues which have been flagged for further attention. Continue reading

IICSA Seminar: What can we learn from other jurisdictions about preventing and responding to child sexual abuse?

The IICSA today held the first event in its research seminar series at the Internal Dispute Resolution Centre, London. The research seminar discussed what can be gleaned from the academic literature as to the efficacy of approaches adopted in other jurisdictions in preventing and responding to child sexual abuse, how this can be used to inform best practice in England and Wales and to identify areas for further research.

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IICSA investigations update

As the IICSA calls for core participants in the investigation involving Nottinghamshire Councils, we summarise recent and forthcoming developments in relation to IICSA investigations. For information summarising the scope of all the various investigations please refer to our previous blog of 3 January 2017 by clicking here.

Children in the Care of Nottinghamshire Councils –

  • The Inquiry has requested individuals and organisations submit their applications for Core Participant status by 21 April 2017. Guidance for submitting applications has been provided by IICSA on its website. Applicants seeking Core Participant status after the deadline will need to explain why their application has been submitted out of time.
  • A preliminary hearing will be held on 11 May 2017 at 10.30am at the International Dispute Resolution Centre in London.

Accountability and Reparations –

  • The part 1 oral hearing for the Child Migration Programmes case study, forming one of the strands of this investigation, has been held. Part 1 focused on evidence given by a number of former child migrant witnesses and the Inquiry’s appointed experts.
  • A further preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9 May 2017.
  • The part 2 oral hearing, commencing on 10 July 2017, will focus on evidence from organisations previously involved in child migration and further evidence from the Inquiry’s experts.

Children in Custodial Institutions –

  • The Inquiry’s Research Project held in January 2017 sought material (due for disclosure by 17 February 2017) for a review of the existing academic and grey literature (including policy and practice documents) relating to the incidence of child sexual abuse in the young people’s secure estate and the institutional response process to such allegations. The findings will determine this investigation as well as policy and practice recommendations to be made by the Inquiry.
  • IICSA has provided details about the areas they are exploring within this investigation. These are:
    • Evidence related to prevalence of child sexual abuse in the young people’s secure estate;
    • Particular aspects of socio-demographic characteristics, both of victims and perpetrators;
    • The factors associated with failure to protect or act to protect children in the care of institutions in the youth secure estate;
    • The nature of the safeguarding systems in place in secure institutions for children and young people, and how they have changed over the years;
    • Recommendations as to how those systems may be improved to better protect children and young people in secure care from sexual abuse.

Investigation into the Institutional Responses to Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse involving the late Lord Janner of Braunstone QC –

  • On 31 January 2017, following an application from Daniel Janner QC, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner and Marion Janner OBE for Core Participant status which was granted to them by the Chair – Professor Alexis Jay OBE, on behalf of their late father’s estate.
  • 11 April 2017 – the Inquiry published a Notice of Determination and revised the definition of scope in relation to this investigation. In light of the submissions received, the Chair has decided not to hold a preliminary hearing for oral submissions. The Inquiry will investigate institutional responses to allegations of child sexual abuse involving the late Lord Janner of Braunstone QC, considering:
    • The adequacy and propriety of law enforcement investigations and prosecutorial decisions;
    •  The extent to which Leicestershire County Council and the Kirkwood Inquiry were aware of allegations falling and the adequacy of their response;
    • The extent to which the Labour Party, Parliament, government departments, and/or the security and intelligence agencies were aware of allegations and the adequacy of their response;
    • The extent to which any other public or private institution may have failed in its duty to protect children from sexual abuse;
    • Whether any attempts were made to exert improper influence in order to hinder or prevent an institution from effectively investigating or otherwise responding to allegations.

Following consideration of the factors above, the Inquiry will publish a report setting out their findings and recommendations to improve child protection and safeguarding in England and Wales.

  • Correspondence between panel member, Drusilla Sharpling CBE and the Home Secretary has been provided on IICSA website, following submissions made by the Janner family that Ms Sharpling should recuse herself from the investigation. Ms Sharpling wrote to the Home Secretary providing further details about her professional career and acquaintances that may be relevant to her position on the Panel, in particular her previous connections with the CPS, the Lord Janner case and one of the Core Participants in the Lord Janner investigation strand. In her response the Home Secretary clearly states that she is satisfied the information provided will not affect Ms Sharpling’s impartiality on the panel.

The Inquiry is not currently accepting Core Participant applications or requesting evidence for the following investigations:

  • The internet;
  • Child sexual abuse in residential schools;
  • Allegations of child sexual abuse linked to westminster

There are no further updates in relation to the other investigations.


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Written by Miriam Rahamim, solicitor at BLM

Proposed reforms of criminal charge of Misconduct in Public Office and its potential relevance to non recent sexual abuse claims

The ancient common law offence of Misconduct in Public Office had largely fallen into disuse since the late 18th century, but has recently seen an increase in use where there have been allegations of sexual abuse. Following a consultation reform is recommended.

In the last decade the offence has been used in relation to journalists paying police officers for information and more recently it was used to prosecute a clergyman for abusing a group of young men over a 15 year period.

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Learning from jurisdictions overseas and IICSA research

Much work has already been completed in jurisdictions outside of England & Wales about preventing and responding to child sexual abuse (“CSA”). Tomorrow (12 April) the IICSA is holding a seminar about best practice overseas to coincide with the publication of a report by the University of Central Lancashire on the same topic. The seminar will be held at the International Dispute Resolution Centre, London and is open to the public to attend.

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Settled or not? Some claims could reactivate

The Supreme Court in Dublin recently gave judgment in three connected cases relating to abuse by Fr. Brendan Smyth. Three plaintiffs had made allegations of abuse (with the various periods of abuse covering 1969-1988) and issued court proceedings in Northern Ireland in 1996.

Initially, two of the claims were against Cardinal Daly (as Primate of All Ireland), the then Provincial for the Norbertine Order (of which Fr. Smyth was a member), the local Abbot of the Norbertine Abbey in Kilnacrott (where Brendan Smyth was based) and Brendan Smyth himself.  One of the plaintiffs claimed only against the Abbot and Brendan Smyth.

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