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18.6.09 Massive Payout over Abuse Claims

Taken from the Camden Gazette 17 June 09 -page 9

'Council failed to protect me from abuse'

Woman in payout bid over childhood claims

A woman wept as she accused Camden Council of not doing enough to protect her against abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of her own mother and uncle.

The woman now a mother herself and in her 30's claims she was subjected to physical and sexual abuse and neglect by her mother, and sexually abused by her uncle.

She insists council officials should have taken her into care shortly after her birth, but Mrs Justice Slade was told at the High Court that the woman was only finally removed from the family home in 1989, when she was a teenager, after her mother took her to a police station and asked for her to be taken away.

The woman identified only as "S" in court, is seeking massive damages from Camden Council, claiming she was let down by social services and that will have a devastating impact on the rest of her life.

The court heard her mother admitted child neglect at Southwark Crown Court in 2005 and received a community rehabilitation order. However, allegations of sexual abuse against her and the woman's uncle only came to light last week.

"S"s barrister Elizabeth-Ann Gumbel, told the judge that her clients childhood memories are so distressing that she refers to her mother only as "Miss P" and that their relationship had once been described by a social worker as "bizarre and unhealthy".

"No reasonable local authority and no reasonably social workers would have failed to remove this woman from the care of her mother, the QC argued.

Whilst giving evidence the woman wept frequently and at one stage fled the witness box, saying she "felt sick".

She told the judge "[My mother] told everyone that I was put into care because I was naughty. I thouht to myself that the next time someone asks me why I don't talk to my mum, I am going to say 'because she was a child abuser'".

Explaining why she has only recently made her allegations, she added: "I did not want anyone to know. I felt dirty and unclean and tried to bury it I" have not even been able to speak to my solicitor about this. I wrote it in an e-mail because I thought it would be easier. It makes me feel sick to think about it". Who wants to think about a sexual relationship with their mother or their uncle?"

Under cross-examination she defended her late disclosure of the sex abuse allegations saying "The sexual scars are harder to speak about. I did not want people to know that I had to do these things, but I thought what was the poin
t hiding it anymore?"

Camden Council denies liability in the case and argues that "S" has in any event left it too late to sue".

Claims for personal injury suffered in childhood normally have to be launched before the victim's 21st birthday, unless there are exceptional circumstances. However, "S"'s legal team insist there was good reasons for the delay".

The hearing continues.


1994 - Children in Camden Council Care


Court case decision 16 July 09