Harvey Weinstein victims awarded nearly $19 million in compensation

Settlement has been reached in two class action lawsuits against Harvey Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein and The Weinstein Company.

Weinstein is currently serving 23 years in prison in New York after being convicted of sexual assault and rape in the third degree.

The settlement is subject to approval by the district court as well as the bankruptcy court that is presiding over The Weinstein Company’s bankruptcy case.

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IICSA most recent research report: Support services for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse

In August 2020, IICSA published its most recent research report into support services for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

This research report had been commissioned by IICSA in order to gain some insight and clarity into the experience of victims and survivors of child abuse when they try to and/or access support services.

The research and the associated report is the work of the independent research consultants Broome|Gekoski who worked in conjunction with the University of Hertfordshire.

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Righting wrongs and entrenching rights: ongoing activity in Scotland

Followers of this blog will be aware that the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee has issued a call for views on the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill. This legislation seeks to right certain wrongs of the past by means of financial redress for survivors of childhood (under 18) abuse in relevant in-care settings. The call for views closes on 2 October 2020.

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Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry: an update

On 15 September 2020, the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) plans to resume hearing evidence relating to the child migration case study. Evidence on Scottish Government knowledge of and response to abuse is planned for mid-November 2020.  A case study examining the abuse of children in boarding schools is expected to start in early 2021.

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Extension of the ‘look-back’ window in New York City

Last August (2019), adult victims of childhood sexual abuse were given a year-long window of opportunity to seek justice for their suffering. The ‘look-back window’ suspended the statute of limitations under the Child Victims Act to allow survivors to file their case between 14 August 2019 and 14 August 2020. This window, which has also been named a ‘window of justice’ has recently been extended by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, allowing survivors to file suit for historic claims of abuse under the Child Victims Act until 14 August 2021.

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Parliamentary call for views launched on Scottish in-care redress bill

On 24 August 2020 the Education and Skills Committee at the Scottish Parliament launched a call for views on the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill.

  • A link to the call for views is here. A link to guidance issued on creating a submission in response to this call is here.
  • The closing date for responses is 2 October 2020.
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Scottish Redress Bill discussed in Scottish Parliament

In the morning of 19 August 2020 the Education and Skills Committee of the Scottish Parliament considered, in private, its approach to the Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill. This committee will be scrutinising the bill at Stage 1 of the three stage Scottish legislative process. That afternoon, the Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP, delivered a statement in the parliament’s chamber on the bill and took questions on it.

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Initial reaction by Scottish claimant firms and a survivor organisation to proposed Scottish statutory redress scheme

The weekend’s press carried some negative initial reaction by Scottish claimant firms and a survivor organisation to the statutory redress scheme which the Scottish Government’s Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill proposes to establish.

This initial reaction focused on the proposed interaction between a claim for statutory redress and a claimant’s right to seek compensation in Scotland’s civil courts. The legislation as introduced requires survivors to waive their right to claim civil compensation if they succeed in a claim for redress.

One claimant solicitor publicly commented that “Forcing an abuse survivor to waive their rights is our worst fears confirmed. Rather than helping survivors secure justice, this is an absolute gift to the organisations and insurance companies who otherwise will be forced to pay larger settlements.” These comments are in the context of the legislative proposal of four possible financial levels of redress – £10,000, £20,000, £40,000 or £80,000 – in exchange for a waiver.

Another claimant solicitor publicly described the proposed statutory scheme as “outrageous” adding that “Survivors are being bribed. They are being pressured to make a choice in a very complex area of law which will have a profound impact on their lives.”

A spokesperson for INCAS (In-care Abuse Survivors) described the requirement for a waiver as “unacceptable” while a Scottish newspaper lead editorial concluded “disturbingly, this system would mean that children told to keep quiet by abusers are now being ordered to stay silent again.”

A ministerial statement on the proposed scheme is to be given in the Chamber of the Scottish Parliament this Wednesday afternoon. Our further analysis of the bill and the developing reaction to it will follow shortly thereafter.   

 Hughes_FrankFiona McEwan

Authored by Frank Hughes, Partner and Fiona McEwan, Associate, BLM

frank.hughes@blmlaw.com and fiona.mcewan@blmlaw.com 

 

Disclaimer: This document does not present a complete or comprehensive statement of the law, nor does it constitute legal advice. It is intended only to highlight issues that may be of interest to customers of BLM. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in any particular case.

Redress in Scotland: ongoing Scottish governmental and parliamentary developments

This morning, 14 August 2020, the Scottish Government Redress for Survivors (Historical Child Abuse in Care) (Scotland) Bill was published on the Scottish Parliament’s website. A link to it is here. In the afternoon of Wednesday 19 August 2020, a ministerial statement is to be given in the chamber of the Scottish Parliament on the statutory redress scheme which this legislation proposes to establish. It is likely that this statement will be given by the Deputy First Minister of Scotland and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP. We will cover the detail of the bill as introduced in a blog following the ministerial statement. The substance of the bill is not the only current matter of interest. The present fifth session of the Scottish Parliament is likely to be dissolved in March 2021 ahead of an election of members to the sixth session on 6 May 2021. In recent years several Scottish Government bills have been the subject of significant amendment during their passage through the three stage Scottish parliamentary legislative process. Bills which have not passed all three stages at the point of parliamentary dissolution fall but may be re-introduced to the parliament by the incoming government which assumes devolved power for Scotland after an election.

On 28 July 2020 Mr Swinney announced that 417 payments of £10k, £4.17m in total, had been made under the Scottish Government’s advanced payment scheme during the first year of its operation, 25 April 2019 – 25 April 2020. This scheme is open to those aged over 68 and those who are terminally ill. Applicants qualify for a government-funded flat-rate “common experience” payment of £10k if they can vouch the fact of residence “in care”. There is no requirement under the advanced payment scheme to prove abuse. This morning, 14 August 2020, the Scottish Government confirmed their intention for the advanced payment scheme to remain open until such time as the proposed statutory redress scheme is operational.

 

More detailed analysis both on the substance of the Scottish redress bill and the projected parliamentary timetable for that will follow after this Wednesday’s ministerial statement. Of particular interest on the substance are the proposed funding arrangements and the proposed interaction between a claim for statutory redress and a claim for compensation in the Scottish civil courts.

 

Hughes_FrankFiona McEwan

Authored by Frank Hughes, Partner and Fiona McEwan, Associate, BLM

frank.hughes@blmlaw.com and fiona.mcewan@blmlaw.com 

College of Policing have updated advice to Senior Investigating Officers dealing with allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse

On the 6th August the College of Policing and Operation Hydrant published an updated version of its advice to Senior Investigating Officers examining allegations of non-recent institutional or high profile cases of child sexual abuse.

The updated advice take account of the changes which came into place following the review of Operation Midland published by Sir Richard Henriques in 2016.  It addresses all aspects of an investigation, from the receiving of reports, through to the creation of victim and witness strategy, victim support, interview strategy and investigation management.

Clear communication at each stage of the investigation is the cornerstone of the new advice, as well as continued support for victims, witnesses and investigators.

Those involved in and with overall responsibility for the investigations are also advised that victims should be thoroughly supported throughout the investigation and the criminal justice process. It is also recommended that when they are devising a victim and witness strategy, they should consider whether a social worker should join the investigation team, to ensure victims are safeguarded, while also giving them the opportunity to speak to an alternative point of contact, if they are hesitant about speaking to police.

The College of Policing are of the view that the new advice is careful in striking the balance between the need to support victims and witnesses to give their evidence and ensuring that an impartial investigation takes place.

David Tucker, Head of Crime at the College of Policing said that “I am pleased to be able to publish our updated advice. Allegations of child sexual abuse are sometimes difficult to investigate, particularly when incidents happened some time ago and when there is additional public interest given the high public profile of the investigation. I hope that the advice provides assistance and support to senior investigating officers in the difficult task that faces them”.

The National Coordinator of Operation Hydrant said that “The policing approach to investigating allegations of non-recent child sexual abuse has evolved considerably since the first surge of allegations following the death of Jimmy Savile, almost a decade ago”. He goes on to say that the updated advice “…represents five years of captured learning and developed good practice. It ensures that investigators can benefit from the most up to date policy and practice, that suspects are treated fairly, and that investigations are impartial and thorough”.

 The College of Policing says that the updated advice will set that the standard for these investigations going forward and make it clear that once victims have taken the difficult decision to report non-recent child sexual abuse to police, they will be treated with empathy and support, their allegations taken seriously, and a proportionate, thorough and impartial investigation will follow.

However, there will be others who on reading the updated advice, will be concerned that in striking the balance between the need to support victims and witnesses to give their evidence and ensuring that an impartial investigation takes place, this new updated advice does not adequately reflect the concerns highlighted by Sir Richard Henriques in his review in 2016. In that review relating to the allegations made by Nick/Carl Beech which were investigated as part of Operation Midland Sir Richard Henriques called for the instruction to police officers investigating allegations of no-recent child sexual abuse that victims are to be believed be withdrawn because suspects are innocent until the allegations against them have been proven and they have been found to be guilty.

 

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Sharon Moohan, Partner, BLM
sharon.moohan@blmlaw.com