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Islington child abuse scandal: Council pays £35,000 out of court settlement after being sued by victim

PUBLISHED: 12:35 17 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:01 17 July 2020

Islington Town Hall. Picture:Ken Mears

Islington Town Hall. Picture:Ken Mears

Archant

A survivor of childhood abuse at an Islington children’s home is set to receive a £35,000 payout from the council.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, spent her childhood in living in care at Gisburne House – a large children’s home run by the council in Watford - where she was subjected to sexual abuse by members of staff and another child resident.

The home’s superintendent, Geoffrey Wylde-Jones, who is now dead, was one of those accused of committing a number of serious sexual assaults upon the woman, who is referred to as Claire in legal documents.

Other survivors of abuse have previously named him as a perpetrator.

Islington Council initially sought to reject Claire’s claim, but her solicitors, Leigh Day, got hold of medical evidence and supportive witness evidence from former Islington social workers.

Settlement was eventually agreed at £35,000 and Claire has now asked for a personal apology from the council.
The Gazette asked the council if it was going to issue an apology, and did not receive a response.

Leigh Day is bringing compensation claims on behalf of several former care leavers of Islington’s children’s home. It also represents the Islington Survivors Network (ISN) in its fight to have a comprehensive redress scheme established for former Islington care leavers who were affected by the council’s past failure to protect vulnerable children.

The Islington child abuse scandal was first exposed in the early 1990s in a series of reports by the Evening Standard.

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In September 2017, leader of the council, Cllr Richard Watts, admitted the local authority was culpable for abuse in its children’s homes and spoke about righting the wrongs of the past.

Thanks to the efforts of ISN, the council has launched the Islington Survivors’ Trauma Service and Islington Survivors’ Support Services.

Cllr Watts told the Gazette in May that he was “frustrated how long it’s taken” to set up a full redress scheme. 
Two months on, a scheme has still not been established, meaning that for ISN members who wish to obtain individual recognition and redress, the only option is to bring a civil legal claim.

Leigh Day solicitor Andrew Lord urged the council to “promptly establish” a redress scheme to provide a route to redress that is “quicker, simpler and less re-traumatising for survivors”.

“Claire had to fight hard against the barriers put up in her legal claim,” he said. 
“Whilst I am pleased that she will receive the compensation that she so rightly deserves, it is utter nonsense that she was put through the stress of such an adversarial process given what has been reported about abuse in Islington’s children’s homes and the public apology made by Islington Council.

“Given its public admission of culpability, acknowledgement of past systemic failures, and its promises of financial support, the council’s delay in this regard is doing nothing to help survivors heal from their experiences in care.”

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council, said that putting a scheme in place was “legally complex and time consuming”, adding: “We will update the ISN when this proposal has been developed further. Any survivors who need help and support are requested to please get in touch and we will do everything we can to assist.”

He continued: “The council today is a very different organisation from in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and today protecting children from harm is our top priority. 
“We’re committed to supporting survivors with, amongst other things, access to psychological support and counselling, personal advice on issues such as housing, access to benefits and individual support.

“The council has paid civil compensation to a number of survivors over the years. In addition, the council and its professional advisors are working very hard on a package of support.”

To access support in Islington for child abuse survivors email survivorsupport@islington.gov.uk.


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