Aston Villa and Leicester City abuse claim settlements

It has been reported that Aston Villa and Leicester City have settled sexual abuse claims concerning five victims of a football scout, Ted Langford, who worked as a part-time football scout in the Midlands in the 1970s and 1980s.

It is understood that the settlements were reached just a matter of weeks before the matters were due to be heard by the High Court.

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Act or pure omission?

Strike-out refused in case involving alleged pure omission

The implications of the Supreme Court judgment in CN & GN v Poole BC are slowly being decided.

In CN, Lord Reed (giving the single unanimous judgment of the Supreme Court) emphasised the distinction between causing harm (‘positive acts’) and failing to confer a benefit (‘pure omissions’).  A defendant owes a duty of care if it causes harm, or if the matter falls under one of three exceptions.  A defendant will not owe a duty of care (the ‘no duty’ rule) if the case involves a pure omission and none of the exceptions applies.

The main questions since CN are (1) how to differentiate between causing harm and failing to confer benefit, (2) how the courts will look at the exceptions, and (3) whether the courts are prepared to strike out some cases.

The third question has recently been considered in the High Court in the case of Chief Constable of Essex Police v Transport Arendonk BVA [2020] EWHC (QB).

A claim was brought by the owner of cargo stolen from a lorry parked in a secluded lay-by at night.  The lorry had been left there whilst the police held the driver on suspicion of drink driving.  The owner argued that the police were liable, because they had assumed responsibility for the cargo – in that they knew about theft of cargo in the area – but took no step to prevent it.  The police force argued it had no duty of care as the loss resulted from the acts of third parties and it had not assumed responsibility for the cargo.  The Recorder rejected the police’s request for a strike out, found that it was not clear that the police owed no duty of care, and ordered a trial.  The police appealed.  On appeal, Mrs Justice Elizabeth Laing agreed with the Recorder.  She found that there was no conclusive authority to determine this case.  She reviewed the other authorities, many of which had been considered in CN, and decided it would not be right to strike out the claim without making findings of fact.  A full trial will be required.

Until more cases have been decided about pure omissions and the exceptions to the ‘no duty’ rule, courts are unlikely to strike out cases


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Geneviève Rich, Associate, BLM
genevieve.rich@blmlaw.com

Check before you book

Booking a holiday and finding a place to stay can be difficult enough at the best of times. It’s not enough just to see if there is a gym, a swimming pool and good restaurants and other amenities but to also consider if the accommodation is a safe haven and not managed, run or staffed by inappropriate personnel.

An example of the risk can be seen from the recent conviction of an ex-Army intelligence officer and Manchester hotelier, for a second time for abusing children at his £2m B&B. Saleem targeted children after they checked into his hotel with their parents near Manchester Airport. He had been previously jailed in October 2018 after attacking two sisters aged four and eight. He has been jailed again after a nine year old girl made a complaint following his first sentence. Saleem said his conviction was ‘unjust and tyrannical’.

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Primark security guard jailed

A Primark security guard has been jailed after being found guilty of the rape and sexual assault of four underage girls who were found shop lifting from the store.  Zia Uddin, who worked at the chain’s Kingston upon Thames store, caught the girls shoplifting then abused his authority by telling them he would let them go without informing the police or their parents about their thefts if they performed sexual acts on him.

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Limitation in abuse cases: Nigel Dunn v Durham County Council

This claim was before the courts in 2012 on the claimant’s successful application for non-redacted disclosure of the defendant’s records, which led to the decision of Dunn v Durham CC [2012] EWCA.

Mr Dunn alleged that he had suffered abuse whilst a child and was resident at the defendants Aycliffe Young Peoples Centre. It should be noted that this claim involved allegations of physical and not sexual abuse.

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Allegations of abuse accepted by police with little evidence

Three chapters from the report drafted by Sir Richard Henriques into the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) handling of the investigation into allegations of abuse made by ‘Nick’ (real name Carl Beech) against Lord Brittan, Lord Bramall, Harvey Proctor and others, were re-published on 4 October 2019. Click here to read the report.  The three chapters alone run to 391 pages and were previously released three years ago, but were heavily redacted at the time.

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Universities in the spotlight: Sexual abuse on campus – the UK perspective

There has been a marked increase in the number of reported incidents of sexual assaults or misconduct made by students. BBC File on Four (17 September 2019) asked 115 universities the number of complaints they received.  80 universities replied.  The combined number of complaints was more than 700 last year.  According to Channel Four, incidents reported went from 65 in 2014 to 626 in 2018, an 85% increase.  165 allegations of rape or sexual assault have been reported by students at one university alone in the last three years.  This trend reflects an increased willingness to report incidents – although many are never reported – and an increased willingness to investigate them.

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Children’s Commissioner publishes a statutory Duty of Care for online service providers

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, has challenged Government Ministers to adopt her “powerful yet simple” proposals and create a statutory duty of care to all children who use online services.

Children who use these platforms are frequently exposed to harmful material and are at risk of online grooming.

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Victims of abuse at Aston Hall criticise Government’s compensation deal

Around 120 individuals have now come forward stating they were abused by Dr Kenneth Milner in the 1960s and 70s.

Dr Milner worked as the medical superintendent at Aston Hall psychiatric hospital in Derbyshire. The hospital treated children with learning disabilities and mental health issues.

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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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