Update on the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

On 16 January 2020, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) published its costs from its inception in October 2015 to the end of 2019. Cost in that period was £30,049,590.

SCAI’s work continues. Phase 5 public hearings, on investigations into the abuse of children whose departure from Scotland to countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand was part of child migration programmes, are due to resume in February 2020. This phase started on 3 December 2019 with evidence being heard that month by video-link from witnesses who were unable to travel to the inquiry.

Continue reading

A national scandal continues to be unearthed – when will it end?

In mid-December, four more men (Shafiq Younas, Nazam Akhtar, Amjad Hussain and Mohammed Ali Sultan) were convicted of indecent assault and rape charges or other similar offences against young vulnerable girls. The offences all took place in Telford between 2000 and 2003.  Vulnerable victims, as young as 12 were sold for sex, initially by Tanveer Ahmed. Ahmed did not stand trial alongside the others, having previously been deported to Pakistan.

An independent enquiry into child sexual exploitation (CSE) continues in Telford after claims thousands of girls may have been abused. The Director of Children’s Services at Telford & Wrekin Council welcomed the latest conviction.

This latest prosecution comes on the back of other similar scandals in other major cities across the country which have been plagued by grooming gangs and exploitation.

Elsewhere Amjad Ditta, a police officer was amongst 16 men accused of being part of an alleged grooming gang in Halifax, with alleged offences committed between 2006 and 2009. Ditta was a serving policeman at the time of the alleged offences. Ditta along with the others accused face trial for various offences amongst which are complaints of rape, threats to kill, trafficking, and sexual activity with a child of various accusers between the ages of 13 and 16.  They appeared before Braford Magistrates Court on 6 January, when the case was remitted to the Crown Court for trial. The accused were bailed to return on 20 January.

It is now six years since the report in to CSE in Rochdale which was authored by the current chair of IICSA. Many recommendations were made and many have been implemented but there seems there remains much to do.


Written by Jagdeep Hayre at BLM


Allegations in the world of yoga

In the wake of #MeToo, Weinstein and Epstein, a Netflix documentary has made allegations of another similar situation in the world of yoga.

The now very wealthy founder of a multi-million dollar yoga empire has been accused of preying on the vulnerable, yet prosecuting authorities in USA appear not to have responded to the complaints.

Bikram Choudhury, a once unknown migrant to USA, has since the 1970s and throughout the 80s and 90s filled auditoriums and hotel complexes with potential yoga teachers who have paid $10,000 or more to learn his methods (the self-proclaimed 26+2 technique, which comprises of two breathing exercises and 26 postures) and then open their own business empires under his trade mark.

The Netflix documentary traced his origins from humble beginnings, born in Kolkata in 1944, settling in the USA in the 1970s. He claims to have healed Richard Nixon and counts the likes of Elvis Presley, Quincy Jones and Raquel Welch amongst his many followers. Over the years he has amassed a fortune, reportedly $75 million, and a fleet of 43 luxury cars.

It is reported that for years it appears people have turned a blind eye or made excuses for his behaviour. No formal action has been taken against him by any authority to date. He is now reported to have left the USA and is now pursuing his business in Spain and Mexico.


Written by Jagdeep Hayre


More than 6,000 children under 14 have been investigated by the police for sexting offences

Figures obtained by way of the Freedom of Information Act requests from 27 police forces by the Guardian newspaper showed that 6,499 children under the age of 14 were investigated for taking or sharing indecent images of themselves or other minors between 1 January 2017 and 21 August 2019. Of that number, 306 investigations were into children under 10 years of age, the youngest child being four years of age. Although limited information is available regarding the nature of incidents, one involved a child of 9 sending a naked selfie of himself via Facebook messenger and a girl of nine years old was reported as an offender for sending a naked image of herself to someone on Instagram. It is thought that the majority of investigations relate to sexting (the ‘consensual’ exchange of explicit messages). Only 30 cases resulted in a charge, caution or summons for the child.

The law

Section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978 provides that it is an offence to:

  • “Take, or permit to take, any indecent photograph of a child;
  • To distribute or show such indecent photograph;
  • To have in his possession such indecent photograph with a view of their being distributed or shown by himself or others”

Section 2(3) and 7(5) of the Act define a child as “a person under the age of 18.”

In addition, section 15A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 addresses sexual communication with a child, and provides that “A person aged 18 or over (A) commits an offence if:-

  • For the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification, A intentionally communicates with another person (B);
  • The communication is sexual or is intended to encourage B to make (whether to A or to another) a communication which is sexual, and;
  • B is under 16 and A does not reasonably believe that B is 16 or over.”

In determining whether a communication is “sexual”, it will be considered so if any part of it relates to sexual activity or if a reasonable person would, in all circumstances but regardless of any person’s purpose, consider any part of the communication to be sexual. The definition of sexual in this context is an “activity that a reasonable person would, in all circumstances but regardless of any person’s purpose, consider to be sexual”. As such the provisions of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 does not address sexting between children under the age of 18.

Guidance published by the College of Policing into police action in response to youth produced sexual imagery advocates a proportionate police response bearing in mind the impact of investigation and prosecution, and especially the implications of being labelled a “sex offender”. The Home Office requires all investigations to be allocated a crime outcome code. The guidance provides that in cases where there is no evidence of aggravating factors (i.e. no adults involved, no profit motive, exploitation, coercion, violence or malicious intent), no inappropriate sharing nor evidence of persistent behaviour, an outcome 21 crime outcome code should be utilised. By issuing such an outcome it avoids the need for further investigation and police interview, and allows other first responders / schools / neighbourhood teams to respond appropriately. An outcome 21 code states “Further investigation, resulting from the crime report, which would provide evidence sufficient to support formal action being taken against the suspect is not in the public interest – police decision.”

On the basis of the figures obtained by the Guardian, it appears that the outcome 21 crime code is being widely used and the criminal justice system engaged in only the most extreme of cases. However, given the numbers of children subject to investigation it is likely that legislative reform will be considered in the longer term in order to ensure the law keeps up with developments in technology and social media.


Written by Louise Roden at BLM


Autism provision and Ofsted inspection at Abbey Rose school

The last accounts filed at Companies House by Orbis Education and Care Limited (the owners and operators of Abbey Rose home and day school) showed a healthy balance sheet, with nearly £12 million turnover, operating profit of £1.6 million and net assets of £7 million.  The day school, a specialist residential home for 30 autistic children, charges annual fees of £70-95,000. The only declared risk in the groups last accounts was ‘austerity’. However a recent Ofsted inspection found children were smeared in faeces, pupils fed a diet of junk food, only one toilet roll between six bathrooms, no hand wash or towels in staff bathrooms, high staff turnover and absence of appropriately trained staff.

Continue reading

Update on Scottish Redress and immediate changes to the Advance Payment Scheme

Readers of this blog will be aware that the Scottish Government has committed to establishing a statutory redress scheme before the end of March 2021.

A pre-legislative public consultation on financial redress for historical child abuse in care opened on the 2 September 2019 and closed on the 25 November 2019.

Continue reading

Irish High Court rules women at centre of adoption mix up can sue the adoption society

In October, 2019 the Irish High Court granted permission to Helen Maguire and Christine Skipsey to issue the proceedings against St Patrick’s Guild.

The two women intend to sue the Catholic adoption society over the mixing up of babies in the 1960s.

The approval of the court was required under the Companies Act as the company behind the adoption society, St Patrick’s Guild (Incorporated), is in voluntary liquidation.

The case is one of several due to be issued against the adoption society which operated at Temple Hill in Blackrock, Co Dublin.

Continue reading