‘The aged face of a sick children’s home pedophile unmasked after decades evading justice’

Hull Daily Mail, 19th May 2021

Paul Lamb’s sickening crimes spanned over two decades

Paul Lamb, 73, was sentenced to 17-and-a-half years in prison

This is the face of the sick former Met Police officer and children’s home manager who raped and abused underage girls across the UK for two decades.

Serial child abuser Paul Lamb was brought to justice earlier this month after a jury at Hull Crown Court found him guilty of 19 sexual offences, including three counts of raping a girl under the age of 16.

The 73-year-old’s sickening crimes began in the early 70’s in London where he worked as an officer in the Metropolitan Police and had close ties with children’s homes in Islington.

From April 1970 to September 1972, Lamb committed his first rape of an underage girl and was also found guilty of two counts of indecent assault on a female under 16 in that period.

By the 1980’s, Lamb had moved north and was appointed manager of the Brook Cottage children’s home in Driffield, a post he held from 1984 to 1987.

Whilst there, Lamb began sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl, getting her drunk before abusing her and inappropriately touching her while she pretended to sleep.

It is said Lamb took her virginity when she was 16 years old, raping her in the flat at the children’s home and in his family home while his wife and children were upstairs.

The victim’s evidence was read out in court by Judge David Tremberg, where it was heard: “I was about 15 or 16 and got back from the pub and carried on drinking at Paul’s flat [at Brook Cottage].

“It was spirits but I can’t remember what, I was legless. I remember waking up in the double bed.

“I felt disgusted because I knew what he had done – have sex with me.

“When I woke up he brought me a cup of tea. He said the cleaner was downstairs and that I needed to get back into my room.

“I felt hungover. After that Paul kept commenting that I wasn’t a virgin. It was like he was gloating.”

In her evidence the victim said she never consented to any of the sexual assaults and felt “frightened of what he would do” if she spoke out.

In 1986, Lamb was subjected to a disciplinary hearing after the victim drunkenly told others in the home of the abuse he put her through. Other girls made similar reports.

He never returned to Brook Cottage.

But the young girl and Lamb kept in touch after she left the children’s home, with Lamb admitting to police that he had a sexual relationship with her when she was at least 19 years old.

However, evidence in court suggested Lamb sexually assaulted her when she stayed with him and his family at his home. The victim last saw Lamb when she was 23 or 24.

Paul Lamb’s crimes in full

April 1970 to September 1972

  • Indecent assault on a girl under 16 (12 months in prison concurrent)
  • Indecent assault on a girl under 16 (12 months in prison concurrent)
  • Rape of a female under 16 (78 months in prison)

December 1982 to September 1984

  • Indecent assault on a girl under 16 (18 months in prison consecutive)
  • Indecent assault on a girl under 16 (18 months in prison concurrent)
  • Indecent assault on a girl under 16 (18 months in prison concurrent)

January 1984 to September 1986

  • Indecent assault on a girl under 16 (18 months in prison concurrent)
  • Indecent assault on a girl under 16 (18 months in prison concurrent)
  • Rape of a female under 16 (78 months in prison consecutive)
  • Rape of a female under 16 (78 months in prison concurrent)
  • Indecent assault on a girl under 16 (18 months in prison concurrent)
  • Indecent assault on a girl under 16 (18 months in prison concurrent)
  • Indecent assault on a girl under 16 (18 months in prison concurrent)
  • Indecent assault on a girl under 16 (18 months in prison concurrent)

February 1986 to February 1987

  • Indecent assault on a woman over 16 (18 months in prison concurrent)

December 1985 to July 1988

  • Indecent assault on a woman over 16 (27 months in prison consecutive)
  • Indecent assault on a woman over 16 (27 months in prison concurrent)

September 1984 to September 1986

  • Indecent assault on a girl under 16 (6 months in prison consecutive)

February 1984 to August 1987

  • Indecent assault on a woman over 16 (3 months in prison consecutive)

October 2019

  • Possession of an indecent photograph/pseudo-photograph of a child (4 months in prison concurrent)
  • Possession of extreme pornographic images depicting a sexual act with a dead/alive animal (4 months in prison concurrent)

TOTAL SENTENCE: 17 years and 6 months in prison

“I didn’t want to hurt his family. I hated him but he was like a father figure. I hated him after he raped me,” said Judge Tremberg, reading the evidence.

“It was a kind of love hate thing. I still wanted him to be the person I wanted him to be – like a father figure.”

“I still wanted to be part of that family.”

The victim decided to give evidence of the abuse Lamb put her through in July 2019, after police found her possessions in Lamb’s home in Fishergate in York.

A diary was found where the victim set out the sexual abuse and rapes against her.

Earlier this year, Lamb appeared at Hull Crown Court to stand trial for 20 sexual offences, allegations he described as “ludicrous” and “totally fictitious”.

However, a jury found him guilty of 19 of them, including 16 offences of indecent assault and three counts of rape.

Judge David Tremberg sentenced him to 17-and-a-half-years in prison.


‘Jailed: Former Islington police officer raped children’s home teen’

Islington Gazette, 14th May 2021

By Emma Bartholomew

Paul Kenneth Lamb, 73, of York was found guilty of multiple sexual offences at Hull Crown Court

An Islington police officer who raped a teenage girl in the ’70s has been jailed for 17-and-a-half years.

Paul Kenneth Lamb, 73, of York, was found guilty of 19 sex offences at Hull Crown Court on May 7, following historical allegations of child abuse.

Lamb had previously pleaded guilty to charges relating to indecent images found on his digital device.

The charges were brought against Mr Lamb as part of an investigation into offences which took place during the 1970s in Islington, and in the 1980s in Yorkshire, when he ran a care home.

At the time of his offences in the ’70s, Lamb is understood to have been living in police accommodation in Caledonian Road and the victim was supposed to have been being looked after in a council-run children’s home.

Det Supt Phil Gadd said: “I am pleased Lamb was found guilty for his sickening and incomprehensible actions against vulnerable victims and that he will now serve a very long time behind bars.”

He commended Lamb’s victims for their “bravery and perseverance” throughout the long investigative process. 

“They have displayed dignity and courage throughout this incredibly difficult time as their patience and understanding has been invaluable whilst we built a strong case against Lamb.

“They have had to carry with them the trauma of his criminal actions since their childhood and I sincerely hope that they are now able to feel some sense of justice has been achieved and they can look to hopefully move forward knowing he is in prison where he belongs.

The Islington Survivors Network (ISN), which supports people who were abused in council-run homes and foster care between the ’60s and ’90s, reported the Islington crime to the Met four years ago.

They are concerned that the case against Lamb wasn’t brought sooner, and claim they were told by officers in 2018 that Lamb couldn’t be traced. 

But a spokesperson for the Met said the investigation had been passed to Humberside police “as they were conducting an investigation into a number of linked offences relating to the suspect who had moved to that area”.

Former Islington council social worker Liz Davies, who founded ISN, said: “We are relieved that Paul Lamb can no longer harm children. He had access to an Islington children’s home where the children should have been safe.

“At that time paedophiles had taken over the Islington homes in a systematic way and hundreds of children suffered the horrors of sexual and physical abuse and neglect.”

She added: “ISN is delighted that at last this serial abuser has been brought to justice, and glad to have helped police in their investigations, both in London and Hull. 

“We are however deeply angry that Lamb was only able to abuse children across Britain for so long because in Islington, where he abused children long before Hull, council and social services covered up the vile abuse in its children’s homes. 

“For decades it protected the many paedophiles who ran or worked in its homes, or, like Lamb, were allowed freely to visit them and prey on the children there. 

“They got away with this despite the many attempts by victims, whistle blowers and campaigners since the 1990s to expose these paedophile rings and protect children in care.

“We wish all the victims find peace now – they have been immensely courageous and the Hull police listened and heard and acted with caring and sensitivity.” 

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council – which is currently consulting on whether to pay survivors of abuse who lived in its care homes a support payment of £8,000, without having to bring a civil compensation claim – said: “Abuse of children in Islington’s care homes was the worst chapter in the council’s history, and we are deeply sorry for the council’s past failure to protect vulnerable children.

“We strongly believe any new allegations or evidence of crime relating to non-recent child abuse should be reported to the police, so prosecutions can be successfully brought.

“We ask anyone with information about non-recent abuse to come forward and contact police so allegations or evidence of abuse can be properly investigated.

“The council today is a very different organisation from in the 1960s-1990s, and today protecting children from harm is its top priority.”


‘Former police officer is jailed for raping Islington girl’

Islington Tribune, 14th May 2021

by Callum Fraser

The assault dates back to the 1970s when the teenager was in an Islington children’s home

Paul Lamb

A FORMER police officer who raped a girl from an Islington children’s home has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison.

Paul Lamb, 73, was convicted and sentenced at Hull Crown Court this week after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting girls under the age of 16 from children’s homes in Yorkshire and Islington in the 1970s and 1980s.

But the case has infuriated the Islington Survivors Network (ISN), which supports people who were abused in council-run homes over a 40-year period, as they say the Met Police allegedly failed to pursue Lamb years ago.

While the ISN was told Lamb could not be traced, he was found when the group typed his name into a web search and discovered he was living in Yorkshire.

Former Islington council social worker Dr Liz Davies, who founded ISN after blowing the whistle on the “vile abuse” in children’s homes, said: “We are relieved that Paul Lamb can no longer harm children. He had access to an Islington children’s home where the children should have been safe.

“At that time paedophiles had taken over the Islington homes in a systematic way and hundreds of children suffered the horrors of sexual and physical abuse and neglect.”

Dr Liz Davies

Among other convictions, Lamb was found guilty of two counts of indecent assault and one count of raping a girl under the age of 16 between 1970 and 72 in Islington.

The girl, who was in her early teens when she met Lamb, lived in the Sheringham Road children’s home in Highbury.

He was a serving Met officer and it is under­stood that he lived in police accommodation nearby at the time.

He later left London with his family and moved to Yorkshire and then became a manager of the Brook Cottage children’s home in Driffield where he abused more girls in the 1980s, the court was told.

In 2017, the ISN facilitated an interview between the Met and one of his victims as part of operation Winter Key, an investigation into historic child sexual abuse cases.

Dr Davies says she heard nothing back for months and then followed up with an email in 2018.

She added: “In March 2018 they [the Met] told us that their intel couldn’t find Lamb but we then gave them his address which we had found online.

“We asked whether the information had been shared with Islington and Yorkshire Local Authority Designated Officers responsible for the Children’s Workforce in order to assess the risk if he was still in contact with children.

“We heard no more until Humberside Police contacted us last year.”

The ISN intends to submit a formal complaint to the Met. Lamb was sentenced on Friday to 17-and-a-half years in prison after being found guilty of 19 non-recent sexual offences.

Islington Council has set up a payment scheme which could see people who suffered abuse in its care between 1966 and 1995 receive up to £8,000.

Dr Davies said: “Islington Survivors Network is delighted that at last this serial abuser [Lamb] has been brought to justice, and glad to have helped police in their investigations, both in London and Hull.

“We are however deeply angry that Lamb was only able to abuse children across Britain for so long because in Islington, where he abused children long before Hull, council and social services covered up the vile abuse in its children’s homes.

“For decades it protected the many paedophiles who ran or worked in its homes, or, like Lamb, were allowed freely to visit them and prey on the children there.”

The Tribune put all of Dr Davies’ accusations to the police.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “At this stage, we are currently unable to say if this information was acted upon by officers from the Met.”

A Humberside Police spokeswoman said: “A non-recent allegation of sexual assault was made to Humberside Police during an investigation leading to the arrest of Paul Kenneth Lamb in 2019. Details of the Met Police Service investigation were received via Operation Hydrant, and contact with the victim in London was made.”

Islington Council leader Richard Watts said: “Abuse of children in Islington’s care homes was the worst chapter in the council’s history, and we are deeply sorry for the council’s past failure to protect vulnerable children.

“We strongly believe any new allegations or evidence of crime relating to non-recent child abuse should be reported to the police, so prosecutions can be successfully brought.” He added: “The council today is a very different organisation from in the 1960s-1990s, and today protecting children from harm is its top priority.”


‘York man, 73, jailed for 17 years for historic sex offences’

“The victim is at the highest level of our priorities. There is nowhere for perpetrators to hide, we will pursue them relentlessly”

“We take all reports of sexual abuse seriously and regardless of how much time has passed, we will seek justice for those who have been affected”

Detective Superintendent Phil Gadd

York Press, 8th May 2021

A 73-year-old York man has been sentenced to 17 and a half years in jail after being found guilty of multiple historic sexual offences.

A jury at Hull Crown Court found Paul Kenneth Lamb guilty of 19 non-recent sexual offences. He’d previously pleaded guilty to charges relating to indecent images found on his digital device.

The charges were brought against Mr Lamb as part of an investigation into offences which took place during the 1970s in London and 1980s in North Yorkshire, Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire area.

Detective Superintendent Phil Gadd, investigating, said: “I am pleased Lamb was found guilty for his sickening and incomprehensible actions against vulnerable victims and that he will now serve a very long time behind bars.

“I want to thank the victims and commend them for their bravery and perseverance throughout the long investigative process. They have displayed dignity and courage throughout this incredibly difficult time as their patience and understanding has been invaluable whilst we built a strong case against Lamb.

“They have had to carry with them the trauma of his criminal actions since their childhood and I sincerely hope that they are now able to feel some sense of justice has been achieved and they can look to hopefully move forward knowing he is in prison where he belongs.

“In recent years, Humberside, as with other forces, has reviewed how it works with victims of crime, and in particular, victims of sexual crime. The victim is at the highest level of our priorities. There is nowhere for perpetrators to hide, we will pursue them relentlessly.

“I would like to thank the team who have worked tirelessly over the past two years to ensure the victims were given the support and confidence to bring Paul Lamb to justice.

“We take all reports of sexual abuse seriously and regardless of how much time has passed, we will seek justice for those who have been affected.”

Former Driffield Brook Cottage children’s home manager Paul Lamb on trial for historic rape and sex offences against young girls and staff

The former manager of a children’s home in East Yorkshire has gone on trial facing allegations of historic sex offences, including rape, against young girls in his care and staff.

Yorkshire Post, 28th April 2021

Paul Lamb, 73, is currently on trial at Hull Crown Court charged with 16 counts of indecent assault, one attempted indecent assault and three counts of rape.

Lamb, who previously worked as a police officer at The Met, is alleged to have committed the offences against children and staff at the former Brook Cottage children’s home in Driffield, East Yorkshire between 1984 and 1987.

The jury at Hull Crown Court yesterday heard from a female member of staff at the care home, who said Lamb sexually assaulted her in the pantry.

Giving evidence the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “I was in the pantry thinking about collecting the food for the children’s tea and Paul entered the pantry behind me. He came into the pantry and at first was just chit-chatting to me. The door closed behind us as it always did. I can’t recall the actual conversation, but then everything changed. Paul came from behind me and put both his hands around my waist and put the flats of his hand on my stomach.

“I started to feel really uncomfortable. Everything was really silent. I think I became quite anxious as was not sure what was happening or why. He started forcing his hands up underneath the bottom of my breasts. I felt like he was going to get hold of both my breasts. I grabbed both of his hands and tried to push them down to stop him, but he resisted very strongly. I grabbed the flour from the pantry and flicked it into his face and he stopped.”

She said: “I remember waking up one evening and seeing Paul standing in my bedroom. He just appeared to be looking at me and watching me. I tried to pretend he wasn’t there and just hoped he wouldn’t do anything.

“This happened at least two or three times and I just used to freeze.”

The woman also told the court how Lamb would purchase alcohol for the underage children when they went out on day trips.

Lamb faced a disciplinary hearing and was suspended from his role in 1986.

The court heard how he was arrested at his home in York on October 22, 2019.

He was released on bail.

Lamb was arrested again in September 2020, following a further allegation of indecent assault and rape of a girl at a care home in the south of England.

He told police: “The claims are totally fictitious. The allegation of rape is ridiculous. All of it is absolutely ludicrous.”

Lamb, of The Werdyke, York, denies the charges against him.

The trial continues.


Islington Council consults on £8,000 child abuse payment scheme

Islington Gazette, 6th April 2021

Islington Council has launched a consultation on a proposed support payment scheme for survivors of abuse they suffered while placed by the council in one of its children’s homes from 1966 to 1995. 

The proposed scheme would enable abuse survivors to receive a financial support payment of £8,000, without having to bring a civil compensation claim. 

Payments would be made through a process that is as straightforward and quick to access as possible, and that minimises the need to re-live past trauma, or the risk of further trauma or harm. 

The support payment scheme is not a compensation scheme, and is rather designed to sit alongside the existing civil compensation route, rather than to replace it.  

The scheme would have no bearing on any civil compensation claims that abuse survivors may bring, except that a payment made under the scheme would be deducted from any compensation payment made. 

It would become part of the council’s existing support offer for survivors which includes trauma counselling, specialist advice support and assistance for care, housing, appropriate welfare benefits, access to further education and employment and support to access care records. 

Carmel Littleton, the council’s corporate director, said: “Abuse of children in Islington’s care homes was the worst chapter in the council’s history, and we are deeply sorry for the council’s past failure to protect vulnerable children. 

“The council would especially like to hear from abuse survivors; people who were placed in Islington Council children’s homes between 1966-1995; and support groups for survivors and people who were placed in Islington Council care between 1966-1995. 

“All comments or suggestions made during the consultation will be carefully considered before the proposed scheme is finalised. 

“The council today is a very different organisation from in the 1960s-1990s, and today protecting children from harm is its top priority.” 

Comments and suggestions can be made until Tuesday, 18 May.


Consultation over £8k payouts to survivors of care home abuse

Islington Tribune, 9th April 2001

Around 2,000 could be eligible for Town Hall’s ‘Support Payment Scheme’

A CONSULTATION on the council’s plans to award cash to survivors who were abused in children’s care homes over a 40-year period has been launched this week.

Those who suffered sexual, physical and mental abuse while in Islington Council’s care could receive £8,000 in a “Support Payment Scheme”.

The council has emphasised that it is not a “compensation scheme” as victims are still able to take the council to the civil court to get a possible larger financial settlement.

However, any final compensation agreed in court would have the £8,000 deducted from it.

It is estimated that around 2,000 people who lived in care homes run by the council between 1966 and 1995 could be eligible.

Systemic abuse took place in what Town Hall chiefs have described as the “darkest chapter” in the council’s history. Last summer one woman was awarded £35,000 in compensation after she was sexually abused by members of staff and other children at Gisburne House – a large children’s home run by Islington Council in Watford.

A support group, the Islington Survivors Network (ISN), was set up by Dr Liz Davies, who first blew the whistle on the scandal more than two decades ago when she was employed as a social worker by the Town Hall. She said: “We welcome the opportunity to respond to this consultation and we will be contacting all the survivors, more than 200 we know of, and we will seek their views to inform the consultation.”

Dr Davies added: “I would have thought by now we would have a list of all the homes. We know of 46 but there could well be more. Having a list of homes would be helpful for the survivors to know. Some of them won’t even know they were in Islington’s care – they were put in private homes, boarding schools and all sorts of places for care.”

The council has said in the past that it intends to establish a database containing information on “known perpetrators”.

Carmel Littleton, the Town Hall’s corporate director of people, said: “Abuse of children in Islington’s care homes was the worst chapter in the council’s history, and we are deeply sorry for the council’s past failure to protect vulnerable children.

“Consultation has now begun on the proposed Support Payment Scheme, which would enable abuse survivors to receive a financial support payment without having to bring a civil compensation claim.

“The council would especially like to hear from abuse survivors; people who were placed in Islington Council children’s homes between 1966-1995; and support groups for survivors and people who were placed in Islington Council care between 1966-1995.”

Comments on the consultation – which was launched on Tuesday – can be submitted until May 18. To respond to the consultation visit www.islington.gov.uk/consultations/2021/non-recent-child-abuse-proposed-support-payment-scheme


JERSEY Speech 2007 by Stuart Syvret

Dark Secrets of a Trillion Dollar Island: Garenne

A Storyville documentary that examines the repercussions of the child abuse scandal that erupted on Jersey in 2007 and the role played by two bloggers in forcing the island to confront its past.

Available to watch on BBC iPlayer

‘SWOPSIES’ – Islington and Jersey children had exchange holidays between homes now known to have been centres of child abuse.

“We thought we were in our beds and they were in ours”

Jersey Survivor

“We did swopsies”

Islington Survivor

If you’ve seen BBC 4 documentary Storyville this speech will be of interest as it is the one Stuart refers to when he was forbidden from completing the speech and speaking about child abuse on the Island. The documentary has high relevance for the Islington child abuse scandal as so many Islington children in care were taken on ‘holidays’ to Jersey including staying at Haut de la Garenne children’s home. There were ‘swops’ when children from Haut visited Grosvenor Avenue children’s home for holidays in London.

In a witness statement to the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry a survivor of Haut de la Garenne children’s home wrote of exchange visits to a children’s home in Islington, when age about 11. The trips were one or two weeks long and happened about the time when the Jaws film came out (around 1975). Two children went from each group in Haut de la Garenne. The witness spoke of having photographs of soldiers on horses and boats on the Thames and that their social services file had some record of the trip although parental permission was not obtained.

In July 2008, Liz Davies visited Jersey when invited by the Jersey Care Leavers Association. She met survivors and campaigners. One Jersey survivor described her stay in an Islington children’s home and spoke of a large old house with big steps up to the front door and nearby a sign saying London Borough of Islington. She said the boys went to a football match at Arsenal against Oldham. 2 girls and 4 boys from Haut de la Garenne stayed at the Islington home. Because the 6 from Jersey were from different residential groups in Haut de la Garenne they feared for the Islington children exchanged with them as they thought they would be separated from each other. The Jersey children in London visited Buckingham Palace, Harrods and had a boat ride to London Bridge. They also went to Whipsnade zoo and remembered the Jaws movie having been newly released. The survivor remembered being told that a group had also been to London in the previous year.

11 Islington Survivors (9 men and 2 women) have given evidence to ISN of holidays in Jersey from 4 Islington children’s homes – Gisburne House, Grosvenor Avenue, New Park House and Sheringham Road. Some of these were exchange ‘holidays’ with children from Haut de la Garenne children’s home in Jersey where serious crimes against children took place over many years.

It is unclear how many times Islington children were taken to Haut de la Garenne to stay either in the children’s home or to camp nearby, although ISN have learnt of at least 20 trips between 1972 and 1986.

In 2007, I went to meet Jersey survivors and heard of their
visits in the mid to late 70s to an Islington children’s home
which corroborate Islington survivors’ accounts of what they
describe as ‘swaps’ from Grosvenor Avenue children’s home
when Islington children were sent on holiday to Haut de la
Garenne children’s home in Jersey. I wrote about this in the
media but there has been no investigation.

Liz Davies report to Sarah Morgan QC 18.2.18:13.5 

Christmas 2007 – Father of the House Speech to the States Assembly

by Senator Stuart Syvret

Sir, Your Excellency, fellow members – but especially the people we are here to represent,

As Father of the House, it is customary for the senior Senator to lead the seasonal exchange of greetings with which we end the year.

In these addresses, it is common to reflect upon the year past – and to contemplate the coming year. And it is the birth of Christ that we mark with these reflections and which we celebrate in this season of goodwill. 

Christ taught many things in the course of His life. Amongst His teachings was the virtue of honesty.

For even though I am an ordinary, fallible person, with no particular religious convictions, still, I could not stand here and falsely claim that the past year has been an episode upon which we, as an assembly,  could look back upon with satisfaction – or even self-respect.  This has not been a year in which we have displayed wisdom, compassion or even basic common sense.

As is now public knowledge, we as a society – Jersey – this community – have begun the awful task of facing up to decades – at least – of disgraceful failure – and worse – towards children.

I will not refer to my personal experiences of 2007; perhaps I will speak of such things on another occasion.

Instead, I wish to speak of the children, the victims, the innocent – the many – who have been catastrophically failed by the edifice of public administration in Jersey – year in and year out. Decade after decade.

We like to imagine ourselves as being some kind of model community; a safe, well-governed and happy group of people. Whilst I cannot speak in detail of individual sufferings now; nor of the many betrayals – I can say this: that as far as I am aware the coming months and years are going to require the most painful reconsideration of our communal values, our competence – and our collective ethics.

Indeed, I am not aware of a more wretched and shocking example of communal failure in the entire 800 year history of Jersey as a self-governing jurisdiction.

How much worse could things be than the systemic decades-long betrayal of the innocents?

As we approach the birthday of Christ, we should reflect upon his words. When on an occasion, some little children were brought  to Jesus,  Jesus’ disciples became angry and rebuked those  who had brought the children into Christ‘s presence. Scriptures then tell us, “But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them “ Suffer  the little children to come unto  me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.”

Jesus is also recorded as saying, “And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name received me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea”

I would hope that these simple words – that place children and their welfare at the heart of human values – could be accepted by any decent person – regardless of their particular religious thoughts or beliefs.

Greater minds than mine have said that we may gauge the quality of a society by how it treats its children. Having learnt what I have learnt in the course of this year I have to say that our smug self-satisfaction as a charitable and civilised community in fact conceals a festering canker. For though it would be bad enough for us to have amongst our midst’s the abusers that are to be found in all societies – the victims in Jersey have been doubly betrayed – betrayed with indifference, betrayed with contempt, betrayed with the naked and idle self-interest of an administration that should have been protecting these –  the most vulnerable of the vulnerable.

Sir, some people seem to enjoy being  politicians. This is not a view I ever understood. My 17 years as a States member have, to me, been a fairly consistent period of struggle; on some occasions so Kafkaesque, so dispiriting that many times I just wished to cast it all aside and seek a civilised occupation instead. But nothing – nothing – nothing in those 17 years even begins to approach the sheer existential bleakness of  this year; of trying to contact, to listen to, to help so many people whose childhoods and lives were wrecked by abuse – often abuse at the hands of the States of Jersey and its employees – and doubly wrecked by the  conspiracy of cover-ups engaged in by public administration.

A few brave people – front-line staff, victims, and whistle-blowers began to bring these failings to my attention. As my understanding developed, I took extremely high-powered specialist advice on child protection issues – and I think this assembly should acknowledge with gratitude the involvement of Chris Callender, Andrew Nielson and their leader, Frances Crook of the Howard League for Penal Reform. The support and guidance of the Howard League was a great source of strength to me and those whom I was working with in Jersey.

Likewise Professor June Thoburn, who agreed to bring her world-renowned expertise to the post of Chair of the Jersey Child Protection Committee.

In particular I believe we should acknowledge the bravery, integrity and unshakeable commitment to child welfare exhibited by Simon Bellwood. He alone – amongst the entire panoply of the child “protection” apparatus in Jersey – said that the way we were treating children in custody was simply wrong. He alone took a stand against the appalling ill-treatment of children who needed care – not abuse. That he was sacked for his efforts really speaks volumes, and illustrates well the ethical void within the system we are responsible for.

Sir, I repeat, we must focus upon the victims – and the friends and families who suffered along with them.

For a period of many months, I investigated these issues – and the more I investigated – the greater became my alarm and anger at what I was learning from people throughout our society. Jersey being the kind of place where many people know other people, the chains of contacts which developed – the networks of victims and witnesses simply grew and grew. Sometimes new revelations occurred – almost by the hour.

As I met, and spoke with people of all ages – young teenagers to retired people – it became clear to me that what we were facing was something far worse than occasional, isolated instances of abuse. What Jersey had tolerated in its midst was a culture of disregard, abandonment and contempt for children – especially those children in need; the vulnerable; the defenceless.  During these dark days, when I contemplated how people could treat children in these ways, I was often reminded of the words of Sartre, when he said “hell is other people”.

But, the strength and bravery of the many victims was a source of strength to me as I contemplated several years of bitter struggle against the Establishment, who were clearly going to use the predictable range of oppressions against me in an effort to keep the truth concealed.

So when the States of Jersey Police Force took me into their confidence and gave me a comprehensive briefing about the work they were doing – it was as though a great burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I had been steeling myself for years of struggle to expose the truth and to seek justice for the victims. The realisation that I was not going down this road alone was a tremendous release – to me – and to the victims. So I must pay tribute to the leadership of the Police Force. This time – finally – there is no hiding place.

During my work I have had conversations with people – teenagers, parents, young adults and older people. People from all parts of society and all backgrounds. Many of these people – victims and witnesses – naturally enough found speaking about their experiences extremely difficult; and many of them were, and are, reluctant to become identified. Likewise the many brave front-line staff who still contact me regularly – notwithstanding the blocking by management of e-mails sent to me by Health & Social Services staff from their work computers.

Such is the climate of fear that victims, witnesses and decent staff experience, that very many of the meetings I have taken part in – have had to be arranged in great secrecy. For example, one brave employee who gave me very important information, made initial contact with me via a text-message sent from her daughter’s mobile phone.

I went about the back-streets, the housing estates, the tenement blocks, the foul, overcrowded and exploitative “lodging houses” in which the poor in Jersey often dwell. And I listened to people opening up; often for the first time in their lives speaking of what they experienced – what they saw – and how they had been failed by everyone. For many of these people, I was the first person in authority they felt able to speak to about what happened to them.

I listened to things – things sometimes said through tears – that I hope never to have to hear again.

As time passed, I found myself moving from these dark rendezvous with witnesses – going amongst the soaked and blackened streets – experiencing encounters with victims – and clandestine meetings with brave whistle-blowing front-line staff.

In the early stages of this odyssey – this drizzle-soaked sodium-lit quest amongst the night roads and back alleys of St. Helier – in the unspoken underbelly of Jersey – I realised what I was seeking – and finding – were ghosts.

Shades and spectres – the vaporous trails of long-departed children – still haunting the outer shells of people I met. Sometimes you catch a glimpse of these ghost children – in eye – or word – or gesture – and you want to reach out to them – but these burnt and vanished phantoms disappear into the scars, the tattoos, the needle marks, the self-harm lacerations, the haunted faces and the wrecked lives.

Although many of the people I met are in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and sixties – I cannot but see them as children still. And many of these children have passed through the hands of the States of Jersey ‘system’ – I cannot bring myself to use the phrase “care”. Some of these children ended in custody for minor offences – and such was the cruelty, abuse, neglect and violence they suffered – many went on to become habitual criminals. When many of these people explained their criminal life-styles, they did so with humility, many candidly use the phrase ‘we were no angels’, and they have said they were not proud of the things they have done. But as a States member – I cannot look at these people – these victims – and not ask myself the awful question: “had these vulnerable, confused and angry children been treated with love and respect and care by the States, perhaps they would have avoided criminal life-styles; perhaps they would not be – in many cases – alcoholics, drug addicts – often broken and shattered beings, wrestling with mental health issues.”

Could I – could any of us – say with confidence that our failures have not contributed to, or led to, such tragic outcomes for so many people?

No, we cannot say that. We must, at the last, admit the awful truth that many of our regular inmates at La Moye Prison are there because of what we – the States of Jersey – did to them as vulnerable children – in the time in their lives when they most needed love, care, support & nurturing.

Amongst our victims have been many many children who had not misbehaved; children who had to be taken into “care” for their protection; or children who had to be taken into the States-run institutions because of the death of their parent. I have met with siblings who’s mother died of cancer when they were little children. I have met with several of the victims of this particular States-run institution. But when I met with the brother & sister – now adults – and listened to their experiences – all I could feel were two things: shame – that the States of Jersey allowed these things to be done to them – and anger that upon the tragedy of the death of these young children’s mother from cancer – we – the States – heaped violence, cruelty, battery and abuse upon these already bereaved children who needed our care, support & love.

Towards the end of my conversation with them – they embraced tearfully, and the brother repeated a vow that no one would ever harm his sister again.

That meeting took place in a room in this building. And I confess at that moment I seriously considered walking from the door and never setting foot in this place again.

Another, older, man I met explained his experiences of being a resident in Haute de la Garenne in the mid-nineteen sixties. Even for the “standards” of the day, the treatment of the children there was barbaric & cruel – at best; for worse things happened.

What really struck me about my meeting with this man was that he was not especially bothered at the treatment he received. I was touched and moved that his overriding concern was – and still is to this day – the fate of his best friend in that institution. He gave me the name, and some details, such as he could recall, from these days far ago in his childhood.

I was able to look into what happened to this boy who was in our care in Haute de la Garenne in the mid-sixties. Little information was available, but the Office of the Deputy Viscount was able to supply me with the following facts:

Michael Bernard O’CONNELL

  • Aged 14 years
  • Died on 7th or 8th October 1966, by hanging from a tree, off Rue des Haies in Trinity.
  • Inquest held on 17th October 1966. 

The memory of this young man is kept alive by his friends – children – people who had similar experiences and who – in the midst of their own struggles with their lives – keep the flame of their friend burning.

But let no one imagine that the things of which we speak are confined to the past; an age of dark and sick attitudes. No – today we have the very same problems.

Recently, I made the appointment and accompanied a young man to the police station so he could add his experiences to the present investigations. This young man had fallen foul of the law in some very minor ways as a young child – and thus he suffered the awful fate of falling into the maw of the so-called youth “justice” system of Jersey. Such was the counter-productive barbarity of the treatment meted out to him – and others like him – that his behaviour became more angry, bitter and lawless. At various stages he passed through Les Chenes and then Greenfields. This young man was, at one stage, held in near complete isolation for two months – passages of solitary confinement which went on for weeks. Having induced – unsurprisingly – a complete mental collapse in this child through this solitary confinement – the response of the institution to his needs was to send a “councillor” from CAMHS to speak with him – for half-an-hour – once-a-week.

As I listened to him recount his experiences over about 2 hours to the police officers who were conducting the initial interview, I kept looking at the vast cross-hatchings of self-harm scars which make his left arm look like a road map of New York, and I listened to him explain how he lay bleeding from these wounds alone in his cell and untended – as a child – I looked at him and I thought “we have done this to him”; “we have wrecked his life”.

It is striking just how many people who passed through the hands of the States of Jersey as innocent children emerged from the other side of that experience, bitter, angry, contemptuous and lawless. Former inmates – current inmates – and those about to become inmates – many many of them are our victims.

Society has a low regard for those who break the law, and that view is routinely echoed in this chamber. So it is not often a member asks us to reflect upon those who have crossed the law and to consider that amongst these people are many – far too many – children who were broken and betrayed in so many ways – especially by the States.

For amongst these people who find themselves imprisoned, these adults cast adrift – within them linger still the ghosts of the children they were – and the spectres of what they should have been.

So Sir – today – the expression of seasonal goodwill, the greeting, the recognition and the charity I stand to offer goes, from me at least, to all the victims of abuse, all those who have suffered – and all those whose childhood experiences have led them to become prisoners. Those who have languished in La Moye – or who are still there now – I want them to know that if their lives are wrecked, their actions driven by the nightmares of their childhoods – some of us understand. Some of us recognise them as victims – tragically and shamefully – often victims of the States of Jersey.

I wish to finish by quoting the final verse of a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter:

Somewhere in a dream like this
The light of love leads us home
Broken worlds will not be fixed if
Vengeance take us as thy own
We’re just like beggars now
On our knees we hear our names
God forgives somehow
We have yet to learn the same.

Excerpt from Dead Man Walking by Mary Chapin Carpenter

Senator Stuart Syvret

Christmas address to States of Jersey

2007

More information on these networks can be found in this article by Eileen Fairweather, Daily Mail, 2nd March 2008.


Children’s homes scandal: care abuse victims to get payout

Islington Tribune, 12th March 2021

SURVIVORS who suffered sexual, physical and mental abuse while in Islington Council’s care are set to receive a compensation payment more than two decades after the children’s homes scandal was first exposed.

It could involve as many as 2,000 individuals who were abused over a 30-year period, according to Town Hall estimates.

It is understood to be the first time in British history that such a scheme has been proposed. The payments made will be up to £8,000.

The Islington Survivors Network (ISN), an advocacy group for those who were abused in care, have broadly welcomed the plans but have questioned why the families of abuse victims who have since died will not be allowed to access the payments.

Dr Liz Davies, a former council social worker who blew the whistle on the scandal and helped set up ISN, said: “There are loads of people who have died. There are families out there who should have some route to apply. It’s the least they could get for all their suffering.”

She added: “We welcome in principle the fact that the proposed ‘Support Payment Scheme’ is a further acknowledgement by Islington of the prolific abuse of children in the care of the council.”

Dr Davies and the roughly 200 survivors that ISN represents have campaigned for years to force the council to set up a payment scheme.

It will be considered at an executive meeting next Thursday, and is set to cover children who were in council care homes between 1965 and 1995.

Town Hall leader, Cllr Richard Watts, has previously apologised to the survivors, describing it as “the darkest chapter in the council’s history”, and adding that there was “systematic failure all the way through the council through all those years”.

To access the £8,000 payment, claimants will have to make an application to the council proving that they were placed in a care home and suffered abuse there.

Survivors are still able to pursue the Town Hall through a civil legal claim. Last summer one woman was awarded £35,000 in compensation after she was sexually abused by members of staff and other children at Gisburne House – a large children’s home run by Islington Council in Watford.

The council hope the Support Payment Scheme will allow some victims to get some kind of payment without “the need to relive past trauma” in court.

However, ISN is concerned that the council is not covering children who suffered “neglect” or those who were placed in foster homes, boarding schools, secure units and care homes not run by the Town Hall.

Leigh Day Solicitors’ Alison Millar, who is representing ISN, said: “It is good that Islington proposes to set up this scheme to make a further public acknowledge­ment of its past failures, which truly were the ‘darkest hour’ in the council’s history.”

Apart from the Support Payment Scheme, the Town Hall considered a “full redress scheme” similar to that being implemented in Lambeth where thousands of children were sexually and physically assaulted over a period dating back decades further.

In Lambeth, victims can receive up to £125,000 in compensation.

Islington’s council officers have recommended that this idea is rejected as it is “unaffordable”.

The Town Hall also intends to establish a database containing information on “known perpetrators”.

A consultation on the Support Payment Scheme will run for roughly two months, with the final proposals set to be implemented in September.

In a statement, Islington Council said: “The council will consult with survivors, the Islington Survivors Network (ISN) and other key stakeholders on the proposed scheme, and any comments or suggestions will be carefully considered before the scheme is finalised.

“The leader of the council has apologised to victims of child abuse in Islington care homes for the council’s past failings. The council today is a very different organisation from in the 1960s-1990s, and today protecting children from harm is its top priority.”