Home Abuse Victims Get £2m Payout

A group of alleged victims of sexual and physical abuse at children’s homes in Manchester have been awarded more than £2m in compensation. The group of 168 individuals was formed in March 2000 in response to a Greater Manchester Police investigation.

Some 66 children’s homes in Greater Manchester were investigated. The compensation was given for the abuse itself, the lifelong effects and for expenses such as therapy, the group’s lawyers said.

But Peter Garsden, a lawyer for the group, does not believe the payout is sufficient. “The law could only provide what precedent allows,” he said. “Unfortunately decided cases restrict the amount of compensation which the judges can award and that, quite frankly, isn’t enough.

“The victims would argue that it should be millions of pounds and what price can you put on a ruined life? Unfortunately once you are abused in childhood it stays with you for life. You find it impossible or difficult to have relationships with the same or the opposite sex, frequent depression, anxiety, and attempts at suicide.”

Manchester City Council Social Services Department ran most of the homes investigated. The city council was ordered to pay the compensation at a hearing at Manchester High Court last Thursday. The main homes involved were Rosehill in Northenden, Broome House in Didsbury and Mobberley Boys’ School in Mobberley, Knutsford, Cheshire.

The victims formed the Manchester Children’s Home Abuse Group in March 2000 following the five-year police investigation, codenamed Operation Cleopatra.

In December 2001, Ronald Hall, the warden of Broome House, was found guilty of eight charges of indecency against children in his care stretching back 30 years. He was jailed for 11 years. Hall had risen to the rank of assistant director of Manchester City Council social services by the time of his arrest. His colleague, Ian Gray, was jailed for 14 years earlier that year after being convicted of 23 similar offences.

In 2004, Philip Roe was jailed for twelve-and-a-half years for 15 sexual abuse offences on children he visited in foster and care homes while he worked for Manchester’s social services department in the 1980s. He was working as a social worker in Essex when he was arrested as part of Operation Cleopatra.

Pauline Newman, Director of Children’s Services at Manchester City Council, said: “The compensation claims relate to historical abuse that took place in Manchester children’s homes mostly in the 60s, 70s and 80s. The group action relating to these claims formally closed on 1st March.

“We very much regret the abuse that occurred and the impact this has had on the individuals concerned. There are now far more effective systems and checks in place to prevent this kind of abuse – including stringent inspection and regulation. We also work very closely with other agencies involved with young people in the city to prevent abuse of any kind in all settings.”