‘Zoombombing’

Around 60 children were subjected to footage of child sex abuse, while they were taking part in a fitness class on Zoom, on Tuesday 5 May. The Zoom call had been hacked by someone who streamed the video of the abuse into the session, in a practice known as ‘Zoombombing’. The class had been organised by a sports club in Plymouth and it is believe the hacker gained access as a result of the group’s login details having been published on public internet forums.

Devon and Cornwall police officers are working with Plymouth City Council’s social care team to identify all those who saw the footage, and may have been affected by seeing the images, so as to provide them with any advice or support, as required.

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Limitation and sexual abuse (England & Wales)

There has been a recent flurry of decisions on limitation in the context of claims for sexual abuse.

Under section 33 of the Limitation Act 1980, there is judicial discretion to disapply the limitation rules in personal injury claims.  The judge should only exercise such discretion in favour of claimants if a fair trial is still possible: the judge will look at the reasons for the delay, the cogency of the evidence, and whether any detriment to the defendant prevents a fair trial.

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Consent: The difference in approach in crime and tort

In crime consent is not a defence to an offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, whereas in tort consent is a complete legal defence to the tort of trespass to person.

There are three recent school cases which deal with the issue of consent, two of which highlight the importance of distinguishing between the consent in crime and in tort.

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Vicarious liability – recent decisions in England and Wales

There has been much recent comment on the Supreme Court decisions in the Morrisons and Barclays cases. Two other recent judgments in abuse cases are also worthy of consideration. The cases as demonstrated below show that whilst the scope of various liability has increased over time, the issue is very much assessed on a case by case basis and still has its limits.

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IICSA research report – residential schools

A recently published IICSA research report has identified a lack of confidence in staff, children, parents and local authorities in identifying ‘grey areas’ of child sexual abuse; varied reporting practices of child sexual abuse between residential schools despite following the same statutory guidance; and schools reporting difficulties in escalating referrals to local authorities.

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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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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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