School sex abuse inquiry is reopened - Winton House

POLICE have reopened a major investigation into allegations of child abuse dating back to the 1960s at a former Hampshire children’s home.

The probe will cover alleged attacks on boys, including beatings and rapes, over two decades at the former county-run Winton House. It was triggered by more victims coming forward after the Daily Echo revealed six months ago that 11 former pupils had launched abuse compensation claims against the county council. That number has now risen to 23.

The men are claiming in total about £1m, including solicitors’ fees. The claimants accuse some male staff at the house in Andover Road, Winchester, of physical and sexual abuse in the 1960s and 1970s. One of the former pupils involved said he welcomed the fresh police investigation: “I want him (his alleged abuser) to face justice. It was a nightmare at that school. “I had nowhere to turn to. Every time I ran away, they took me back. his has haunted me for years.”

Eight alleged victims have contacted the police. Because of the size of the inquiry, it is moving from Winchester to the force’s major investigation team. Winton House, now demolished, was a Home Office approved boarding school for boys aged 11 to 16. Former groundsman Michael Park was jailed for 12 months in 2004 for indecently assaulting three ex-pupils. The county council settled out of court with his victims. But it is feared there were many more abusers and victims. The new probe comes 12 years after a police investigation, codenamed Operation Grangewood, which resulted in the jailing of Park, the only member of staff to face prosecution. During this investigation 116 former pupils were interviewed. Police have confirmed this evidence will be reviewed as part of the new inquiry.

Charles Derham, of Hampshire-based Verisona Law, who is co-ordinating the compensation claims, said allegations had been made against members of staff. He said the county council is contesting the compensation claims on the grounds of lack of evidence and being out-of-time. Courts generally require cases to start within three years of an injury although judges have discretion to hear older cases. Claims include damage for actual assaults, for psychiatric problems later in life and loss of earnings.

Mr Derham said: “Some of my clients come from dysfunctional backgrounds and had run-ins with the law but in my eyes that does not question their credibility.

“They were vulnerable children placed in a school where they were meant to be looked after and some members of staff took advantage.”

Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said any alleged victim of abuse, regardless of their past, would receive the same quality of service. She said: “Every case has its challenges.

“In circumstances like these the challenges are greater for the alleged victims who are asked to recall horrific events from their past. This can take time and repetition in order to achieve the best evidence to bring to prosecution but our aim throughout is to bring victims of abuse the justice they deserve.”

Public awareness of historical abuse has been heightened by the exposure of paedophile TV star Jimmy Savile. New guidelines for police and prosecutors are being drawn up. county council spokesman said: “Each allegation is being thoroughly investigated and every claim is considered on its individual merits and against the evidence obtained, following due legal process.”

If you, or a loved one, have been affected by sexual abuse, please do not hesitate to contact our team of experienced lawyers who will be happy to speak to you about whether it may be possible to bring an abuse claim.


Lisa has specialised in childhood abuse and social care negligence for the last 8 years and has extensive experience in relation to civil abuse litigation, CICA claim maximisation and Redress Scheme claims. She offers a sympathetic and professional approach to her clients’ problems and advises on funding options (including insurance and Conditional Fee Agreements.)

Since 2018 she has travelled around the country to see clients who were failed by Lambeth Council during their childhood in order to collate evidence for submission to the Lambeth Children’s Home Compensation Scheme. Lisa’s style of working is tailored to providing emotional support whilst applying the specialist legal expertise required to ensure her client’s have the best evidence for making a successful claim.

Lisa is able to access key psychiatric and social care experts to obtain evidence and therapy recommendations for clients. She can direct clients to treatment providers if required. Often such treatment costs can be claimed as part of the compensation process. This is a priority to ensure her clients have the best opportunity to make positive steps into the future. Lisa excels in applying questions to psychiatric experts to clarify and ensure they have a deeper understanding of the case issues where required. She is also experienced in negotiation to maximise outcome according to specific scheme terms.

For the last year and half, Lisa has been leading the firm’s participation in the National Abuse Inquiry specifically relating to the IICSA Lambeth investigation acting on behalf of 6 core participants. Such work involved the preparation of core participant applications, section 40 funding applications, detailed consideration of social care record evidence, witness statements preparation, attending preliminary hearings for consideration on the extent of other key party involvement, detailed work on documentary disclosure evidence from the council, police and other core participants to identify deep seated failings within the past care and policing systems, cross referencing, and work with counsel on composing Rule 10 questioning of corporate and police witnesses giving evidence at the IICSA Lambeth hearing. Lisa also accompanied a key core participant giving evidence to the IICSA hearing providing support and understanding to ensure her client’s evidence was sensitively taken into account when the panel make recommendations to protect children in the future. Questions were raised on the effectiveness of the current Serious Case Review system and how this has been operating within police and council’s across the country, something which has also been identified whilst working on specific civil cases. The hope is that improvements in the child protection mechanisms can ensure the safety of children in future.

Lisa also specialises in CICA claims, an area of work which has increased significantly following the lifting of the pre 1979 same home abuse rule which facilitated many victims being able to finally achieve justice relating to serious childhood abuse.

Lisa also has extensive particular experience in running civil claims relating to foster carer abuse, abuse in private/public/approved school institutions, church abuse, and abuse linked to gymnastics.

Her extensive knowledge of the Civil Procedure Rules, skills in evidence gathering and analysis of liability and causation, and experience in risk assessment and settlement negotiation make her a valuable asset to clients and colleagues alike.

Lisa has more than 20 years’ experience of dealing with Personal Injury matters ranging from road traffic accidents to workplace injury and liability.

Lisa is fluent in German and Persian. She also has experience in Civil Litigation regarding Debt Recovery, Breach of Contract, and Insolvency Law

Client testimonials

"Lovely, friendly, great people. Very understanding too and very good at what they do. Very happy with the result, many thanks again Lisa and everyone involved in my case."

"I would like to express my profound heartfelt gratitude to Lisa Gafarov for all her hard work and understanding when representing me. She fought passionately for my case for two years.

Within this time, never once did I feel it was about the money for her. She was very considerate and dealt with many personal matters in a caring and professional way. It was a very sensitive case but she put in a lot of hard work and went the extra mile each time. Her wide range of expertise was indispensable during this difficult time. Because of this I trusted all her advice and as a result, this took a lot of pressure off of me.

She managed to reach a very amicable conclusion between the defendants and myself. You don’t know how much your passion impacts the lives of others. For this I am forever grateful. I would recommend your firm a hundred times over."
Anonymous, April 2019

Lisa studied ‘Contract Law, European Law and Employment Law’ as part of her degree in BA (Hons) Business Administration. She has also studied other business subjects, including accounting.

Having completed her degree, Lisa started work for Verisona Law in November 1999 in the Personal Injury department as a Trainee Litigation Clerk and since then has developed extensive skills in relation to personal injury litigation and case preparation.

  • Road traffic accidents
  • Accidents at work
  • Slip and trip claims
  • Occupier’s liability claims
  • Product Liability claims
  • Industrial disease claims
  • Work related upper limb disorder claims
  • Clinical negligence, including amputation claims
  • Cosmetic surgery claims
  • Abuse claims

"Thank you for all your much appreciated hard work. I will truly never forget your kindness towards me. Your patience, respect and understanding at all times was beyond words. The sincere compassion shown meant more to me than words could ever express. This firm will forever hold a special place in my heart."


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