Victims who were sadistically abused by QC receive compensation

The Titus Trust (formerly known as the Iwerne Trust) has reached a settlement with three men who reportedly suffered appalling abuse by John Smyth QC during the 1970s and 80s.

Smyth was chairman of the Iwerne Trust from 1974 until 1981. The Iwerne Trust operated Christian holiday camps during which the abuse allegedly occurred.

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Australian Redress update – participating institutions have doubled

The number of institutions participating in the Australian National Redress Scheme (NRS) has more than doubled as more institutions have completed the necessary steps to join the NRS.

As at 6 February 2020, 162 non-government institutions are now participating in the NRS – up from 67 last year, in addition to the Commonwealth, state and territory governments.

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Australian High Court to deliver final appeal judgment in the Cardinal Pell appeal on 7 April 2020

On 12 March the High Court in Australia deferred ruling on an appeal to overturn the conviction of former Vatican treasurer George Pell for sexually assaulting two teenage choirboys in the 1990s for which he was sentenced to a six year jail term.

After two days of legal arguments, the High Court of Australia said it was still considering whether to allow the appeal.

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Northern Ireland Redress Scheme opens

In an example of life continuing during the current difficult time, it was announced on 31 March that the Northern Irish Redress scheme was now available to accept applications.  It had been intended that there would be familiarisation training sessions for survivors and solicitors in the working of the scheme but this has had to be re-considered.

An online portal has been provided to raise concerns via the website and that site will provide access to the online applications process.  There is guidance on how to apply, the costs and fees structures for lawyers and a template for structuring claims.

The scheme follows on from the recommendations made by the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) and was created by legislation rushed through parliament before the pre Brexit proroguing.

The process covers anyone who was in a residential institution in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995. They must have suffered or witnessed abuse in that home.  It does not cover boarding schools.

Applicants can apply themselves or the family of someone who has died recently who was in an institution can make an application on behalf of the deceased.

While the applications can be made in person the NI Executive has advised that if someone wishes to speak to a solicitor they should do so over the telephone or use email in the present climate.

The opening of the scheme was widely welcomed by those representing victims and survivors with Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty calling it a “momentous day”.

The scheme will allow payments of between £10,000 and £100,000 depending on circumstances and an initial sum of around £37.5m has been set aside.  It is anticipated that the final payouts will exceed £100m.  The NI Executive will be looking to Westminster to assist with this substantial budget and the present financial burden on government, both local and national, will mean that significant additional funds will need to be administered carefully.

Credit must go to High Court Judge Adrian Colton and his staff for getting the scheme up and running at this time with all of the difficulties created recently.  The Executive has warned that getting payments out may be slower than they had hoped at present but that they are working hard to ensure the scheme will operate as intended.

Ciara McReynolds, Solicitor, BLM

Scottish Government publishes independent analysis of pre-legislative public consultation on financial redress for historical child abuse in care

To inform the design and delivery of the proposed statutory financial redress scheme in Scotland, the Scottish Government launched a pre-legislative public consultation last year which ran for 12 weeks, closing on 25 November 2019.

In total, 280 responses to the consultation were received. Of these, 82% were from individuals, while the remainder 18% were from organisations.

Of the individuals who responded, around 91% identified as a survivor of abuse in care and some individuals drew on their own experience of abuse in care to illustrate or explain their answers.

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Barclays Bank not vicariously liable for independently contracted Doctor – Supreme Court decision

The long awaited decision in Barclays Bank’s appeal to the Supreme Court was handed down on 1 April 2020. Barclays Bank was appealing the decisions made in the first instance and in the Court of Appeal which held them vicariously liable for the actions of an independently contracted doctor.

Barclays Bank contracted Dr Gordon Bates to carry out pre-employment medical assessments during the years 1968 and 1984 for prospective employees of the bank. These assessments were carried out unchaperoned in a consulting room in Dr Bates’ home.

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Save the Children UK’s culture – ‘Serious weaknesses’ and ‘serious failings’ identified

The Charity Commission has recently published an awaited report, following a statutory Inquiry commenced in 2018, into Save the Children UK’s response to sexual misconduct complaints against two former senior executives made in 2012 and 2015.

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