Lawyers, social workers and ex-cops have called for a new inquiry into child abuse in Lambeth, because, they claim so much has not been revealed by the latest investigation.
Solicitors representing almost 600 people abused in care say the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse did not ask crucial questions about the involvement of police officers in previously failed probes.
Amy Clowrey of Switalskis, who represent 500 sexually abused clients – 29 of whom were core participants in the Jay inquiry – said: “The money people are getting through the Redress Scheme is not what they want –
they want answers.
“The cover-up is systematic at the council and the police.
“The inquiry did not go far enough but the remit did not allow it. There should be an independent inquiry into Lambeth and the Met.
“Abusers were allowed to move around different homes when they had been caught in one place. House mothers were told but no one did anything about it.Why were those people not protecting people living there?”
Malcolm Johnson of Lime Solicitors, which has 75 Lambeth clients, eight of them core participants in the Jay inquiry, said: “Some people will say it did not look like a conspiracy.
“But anyone who has taken statements will say there were individuals who knew what each other were doing. The failure of Lambeth goes right from the top to the bottom.
“Why were SOSA able to identify so many, when police only prosecuted a handful? That is the burning question.”
Alison Millar of Leigh Day said: “People have waited a lifetime – some more, because some clients have died.
“It is very sad this inquiry has left so many questions. It has not even scratched the surface. I agree that abuse was on an industrial scale, which had infiltrated Lambeth homes.
“It is a horrendous story of numerous failures of child protection, abuse and misuse by the council and police.”
A spokesman from IICSA stated that the main aim of the report was to examine the scale and nature of abuse that children in the care of Lambeth Council suffered and the Council’s failure to protect those children, hence the focus on the Council.
The report states: “The Metropolitan Police Service undertook a number of investigations into allegations of sexual abuse made by children in care and former children in care (including Operation Middleton) and recognised that it let victims of sexual abuse down in the past through its handling of investigations. It established Operation Winter Key in June 2015 to assist the Inquiry and to investigate allegations of non‑recent child sexual abuse by people of public prominence or institutions where there have been repeated failings. Detective Inspector Simon Morley provided nine comprehensive statements in response to a number of detailed requests made by the Inquiry in this investigation and in addition Commander Murray gave oral evidence on behalf of the Metropolitan Police Service.”
The report contains criticism of the police and points out where they failed to re-investigate certain allegations – for example against [the late] Donald Hosegood, [a Shirley Oaks house parent whose case against him collapsed] – and one of the recommendations is to ask the police to consider whether it needs to reopen an investigation into the death of LA-A2 as it appears it was not given all the facts surrounding the case.
Commander Alex Murray, of the Metropolitan Police Service, said:“We welcome the report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).
“There are victims and families who have waited years for this, and I hope today’s publication brings some answers.
“It is clear that at different times we missed opportunities to identify offenders and investigate further. Some of the treatment of children was also unacceptable.
“We are sorry for when we let children in the care of Lambeth down.
“As the report notes, we have changed the way we investigate allegations of child sexual abuse, with better training for officers, greater collaboration between social care partners, and putting the victim at the heart of the investigation. We are building a culture of professional curiosity within the Met to ensure any officer with concerns about a child acts promptly and appropriately.
“We will ensure that any learning for the Met will be taken forward.
“We have received the recommendation by IICSA namely ‘the death of LA‑A2 whether the Met should consider whether there are grounds for a criminal investigation into Lambeth Council’s actions when providing information to the coroner about the circumstances surrounding LA‑A2’s death’, which we will now assess.
“We encourage anyone who has been the victim of child sex abuse to come forward and speak with us.”