Bob Higgins: Child Sex Abuse re-trials urged by Commissioner

Bob Higgins, former football coach, was sentenced to 24 years and three months imprisonment in June 2019 for abusing young players at Southampton FC and Peterborough United between 1971 and 1996.

He was previously acquitted of charges against six complainants in 1992. These six complainants were told that their allegations against Mr Higgins were ‘not serious’ enough for re-trial.

The recent conviction of Bob Higgins prompted the Victims’ Commissioner of England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird, to propose a wider remit of child sexual abuse cases which could be eligible for a re-trial.

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Abuse in athletics – a recent conviction

Philip Banning, a former Welsh national athletics coach has this week been jailed for seven and a half years, with his name put on the sex offenders register for life, for abusing four girls all under the age of 16, at Andover Athletic Club between 1976 and 1982.  Banning, who also represented Great Britain at the 1975 European Indoor Championships, pleaded guilty to 18 counts of indecent assault at Winchester Crown Court.  In sentencing, the judge commented that Banning had been ‘idolised’ by his victims and that he was responsible for a ‘grave abuse of trust’.

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Interim Advocate for victims and survivors takes up post

Brendan McAllister was appointed Interim Advocate by David Sterling last month and has now taken up his post.

Mr McAllister will retain this post until a Statutory Commissioner has been appointed as directed under the HIAI report.  Mr McAllister said “I am honoured and humbled to have been appointed to this important role as a representative voice for victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse…There is much work to be done and I don’t underestimate the challenges that lie ahead but I am absolutely committed to being a strong, dedicated and supportive voice”.

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IICSA – Accountability and Redress

IICSA has today invited core participant applications for the next phase of this investigation. Having heard from a variety of participants in connection with five case studies, a report for which is due shortly, consideration is now being made of phase 2. That phase will consider two questions:

  1. Whether the law of limitation should be reformed to make it easier for victims and survivors to bring claims in respect of non-recent child sexual abuse.
  2. The potential for a redress scheme to offer accountability and reparation to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

Any individual or organisation wishing to apply for core participant status should do so by 11 September.

These questions will have potentially far reaching implications for a wide range of organisations – from those who have had direct involvement with the care of children in the past or present and who have or may face claims for damages through to the insurers of those organisations.


jefferson_p_web Written by Paula Jefferson, partner and head of abuse and neglect at BLM

Jeffrey Epstein found dead in his prison cell

Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his prison cell in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on Saturday (10 August 2019).

Some weeks prior, he had been found semi-conscious in his cell with injuries to his neck and had been placed on suicide watch. However, prison officials allegedly reported that Epstein had been taken off suicide watch prior to his death. The cause of his earlier injuries were never clarified by prison officials who claimed not to “share information on an inmate’s medical status or their conditions of confinement”.

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NSPCC survey estimates as many as 200,000 11-17 years olds are groomed online

A recent NSPCC survey titled ‘Young People’s Experiences of Social Networking Sites’ has estimated that as many as 200,000 young people have been groomed on social media platforms such as Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Twitch.

The study which used data from 11-17 year olds identified that 1 in 25 of those asked had been sent, received or been asked to send sexual content to an adult.

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Abuse in US sport – an update

Last week, US senators Richard Blumenthal and Jerry Moran released a long awaited report investigating the actions of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and USA Gymnastics in response to a sexual abuse scandal. The investigation was centred around USOPC’s systemic failures to protect athletes from sexual abuse and the reported filing of a non-disclosure agreement to silence a victim of abuse in relation to the Larry Nassar abuse case.

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