Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry to focus on notorious paedophile priest Brendan Smyth

The convicted priest Brendan Smyth is to be subjected to a specific section as part of a massive inquiry into institutional sex abuse. The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry also announced on Monday that three new institutions - Hydebank Wood Young Offenders’ Centre in Belfast and Fort James Children’s Home in Ardmore Road and Harberton House ssessment entre in Irish Street both in Derry - are also to be looked into. HI Chairman Sir Anthony Hart said the extra parts to the large-scale probe will bring “the total of homes and matters to be investigated to 18”. He said Module 6 “will examine issues arising from the actions of Fr Brendan Smyth in a number of homes in Northern Ireland, actions which have been described by a number of witnesses who have already given evidence to the Inquiry”. Smyth died of a heart attack in prison in August 1997, just a month into a 12 year prison sentence for a raft of offences against children. The inquiry heard details today of when various institutions are expected to feature. Module 5, will start on June 8 and focus on Fort James Children’s Home and Harberton House ssessment entre. Both were under the remit of the former Western Health and Social Services Board and have since closed. Module 7 will focus on four juvenile justice institutions - St Patrick’s Training School, Belfast; Lisnevin Training School, County Down; Rathgael raining School, Bangor; and Hydebank Wood Young Offenders’ Centre, Belfast. This module will start on September 1 and is expected to last until November. The Inquiry’s eighth module will focus on two former children’s homes run by the children’s charity, Barnardo’s; the Sharonmore Project and Macedon, both in Newtownabbey. This module will be heard in December and finish the Inquiry’s business for 2015. The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry was established in January 2013 by the Stormont Executive with a remit to investigate child abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73-year period up to 1995. he inquiry is expected to hear from more than 300 witnesses during the course of the public evidence sessions. If you or a loved one have been subject to abuse please do not hesitate to contact Charles Derham our specialist child abuse solicitor. We will treat any communications with the strictest of confidence.


Charles has considerable specialist experience in pursuing claims for compensation for those who have been abused in childhood. His specific expertise means that he is recognised locally, nationally and internationally for his work which has taken him all over the world including, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

He is also recognised for his significant involvement in the high profile litigation against St Georges School (Anglemoss Limited) and Cyntwell High School. These cases involved a staggering number of individuals who pursued those responsible whom despite heavily defending the claims brought against them settled by way of out of court settlements.

Charles regularly features in local and national press and he is often asked to provide his professional opinion and commentary on relevant abuse law issues and developments on radio and television broadcasts. Such broadcasts include BBC South Today, BBC Wales, ITV and ITN News.

Charles is a member of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers.

You can follow Charles on Twitter and Facebook.

Charles obtained his Law degree at Kingston University, before successfully completing his Legal Practice Course. He trained and qualified with Verisona Law beginning his specialism in the field of child abuse claims. He received his higher rights of Audience in 2012 making him one of the youngest Solicitor-Advocates in the country who is able to represent his clients in the High Court. Charles is head of the abuse team who collectively have secured compensation for hundreds of victims of abuse.

He began diversifying in to other aspects of abuse law and his team are one of the very few in the country who specialise in claims against social services.

He is involved in complex group action litigation and also represents a number of individuals and who are pursuing private companies, local authorities and perpetrators in pursuit of their justice.

Charles has strong contacts with some of the most prominent barristers who advise on abuse claims including a number of QC’s. He also has robust connections with highly qualified expert witnesses he instructs in support of those who he represents.

  • Child abuse claims
  • Claims against social services
  • Complex/Catastrophic Clinical Negligence claims

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