Social worker cleared of rapes as jury returns not guilty verdicts on all charges

A SOCIAL worker accused of a campaign of historic sexual abuse at a Northamptonshire children’s home has been acquitted of all the allegations.

Peter Fordham, aged 46, was charged with carrying out a series of rapes and sexual assaults against a teenage boy while employed as a key worker for vulnerable children at St John’s Centre, Tiffield, near Towcester in the mid-1990s.

Mr Fordham, who is currently suspended as a principle social worker for Northamptonshire County Council, denied five allegations of rape and indecency with a child, who was aged between 12 and 14 at the time and cannot be identified.

After a six-day trial at Northampton Crown Court, a jury of seven women and five men returned not guilty verdicts on each count following five-and-a-half hours’ deliberation.

Mr Fordham, of Ashley Way, Westone, Northampton, nodded and thanked the jury as the not guilty verdicts were announced.

He declined to comment to the Chronicle & Echo as he left court yesterday.

However, he will now have to wait to discover if he can resume his career in social services.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “Although Mr Fordham has been found not guilty, he remains suspended pending the conclusion of a disciplinary inquiry into the circumstances of this case.”

He told the jury how he had been involved with the care of up to 2,000 children employed as a social worker after leaving the police in the early 1990s.

It was alleged he had abused his trusted position at the care home by giving his accuser alcohol and presents before sexually abusing the youth.

The complainant, who gave evidence over three days, accused him of repeated rapes which were said to have taken place in a car on journeys back to Tiffield from Derbyshire and Southampton when they had been alone.

It was also alleged Mr Fordham had raped him at his then homes in Towcester and Semilong, Northampton.

He told a jury there was no truth in the allegations and could not account for why his accuser, whose initial complaint was made to a prison officer while serving a sentence at HMP Woodhill, Milton Keynes, in March last year, would fabricate the charges against him.

After the verdicts were announced, Judge Lynn Tayton QC thanked the jury, adding: “Jury service is probably the most important public duty you will ever have to do in your lives.”