IISCA Lambeth Council hearing – Day 2 Summary

July 1st, 2020

Concluding day 2 of the IISCA Lambeth council hearing, the following points have been made by the core participants’  representatives, Lambeth council barrister and the MET police representative:

Verisona Law outlined:

  • At Shirley Oaks it was made clear that the abuse was particularly severe including daily beatings of children by Lambeth’s resident staff members, children regularly being locked up, often for hours on end in darkness, children being drugged, and children being sexually assaulted
  • The inquiry will hear allegations that those in positions of power in Lambeth Borough Council were aware of the horrific sexual assaults that were being inflicted on the children in its care, and they either turned a blind eye, or took backhand payments to bury documentary evidence and ship many of those children off to far flung locations across the country, so Lambeth could forget what it had done to them.
  • We paid tribute to the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association which collated evidence and lobbied the council to recognise the abuse that had occurred
  • We made clear that live evidence will be given by core participant LAA61 about the extent of her abuse by Lambeth foster carers. Evidence will also be heard about Lambeth Council’s Assistant Director over-ruling child protection decisions made at meetings, about the Assistant Director taking the position there were no grounds for police checks, as well as appearing to have been involved in orchestrating the dismissal of LAA61’s social worker who first alerted the council to the fact that LAA61 was abused in Lambeth’s foster care placemen

Other main themes from Day 2 of the hearing:

  • The inquiry was asked to find answers as to why paedophiles were left to flourish in the Lambeth Children’s Homes
  • Lambeth’s Child Care system was an example of how the state should not care for the most vulnerable children in society
  • Even after a perpetrator at Shirley Oaks was charged it is alleged he was continuing to see children at Shirley Oaks, and that this was permitted by Lambeth Council.
  • There is a clear problem in lack of reporting by adults when a child discloses abuse – there is a call for mandatory reporting to be introduced in legislation
  • Michael John Carroll, the prolific paedophile, used his connections to prominent politicians to assert his authority. He treated Angell Road Children’s Home as his own. Allegations were made as early as 1984 but he was still allowed to build his own powerbase and specialise in working with sexually abused children in spite of his schedule 1 convictions being known to Lambeth Council. He remained working with the children until 1991.
  • There has been an ongoing failure to achieve justice by the vulnerable children in Lambeth, their lives were destroyed by the abuse, whereas many of the witnesses who will be called to give evidence in the coming days around the times of the Lambeth Council failings have become Lords and Ladies of the realm.
  • There are allegations that Senior politicians were visiting Angell Road Children Home
  • Michael John Carroll had built up his own network and relations with the police and with council officials
  • There was said to be sexual exploitation by staff and politicians connected to the Lambeth Council construction department, also corrupt practices in the housing department surrounding tenders
  • It is alleged that Carroll also ran an under the radar day-care centre for young children at Angell Road and one witness is said to have confirmed that Carroll confessed to her that senior Lambeth officials knew about it and let this go on.

Comments made by Lambeth Council’s barrister:

  • Acknowledged the importance of the inquiry and for the council to understand what went wrong.
  • It was acknowledged that the failings had a profound and long term impact on children
  • The council accepts it did not protect many of the most vulnerable children
  • Previous apologies have been made but in today’s submissions the council made another unreserved apology
  • Adults were able to abuse children with impunity
  • Lambeth failed to believe children and failed to take effective action
  • The council does not think the failings can be explained by political turmoil
  • It intends to cooperate fully with the inquiry
  • The council accepted it failed to address the risk of child sexual abuse within its homes
  • The council missed multiple opportunities to reform and change, there was a lack of leadership and a lack of proper governance
  • There was an inability to put the welfare of the children above all else
  • The council recognises the need for accountability and responsibility

Comments from the MET police barrister

  • It recognised that many children in the care of Lambeth were subjected to abuse and exploitation
  • The police did not always respond appropriately
  • Where any action by the police has exacerbated or prolonged the pain suffered by any complainant, the commissioner for the MET would like to apologise sincerely  and deeply on behalf of the MET police
  • The police accepted there was historically a very poor working relationship between Lambeth Social Services and the MET police

During the rest of this week, there will be evidence given by core participants about the extent of abuse suffered, as well as Lambeth Council’s Corporate witness’ position on the evidence. Further evidence will be heard from Lambeth Council social services staff, and from a Labour councillor.

We hope that the inquiry will result in dramatic changes for organisations that are responsible for the health and welfare of children and that those involved in previous abuse are brought to justice.

If you would like to discuss the inquiry or any other matters regarding historic abuse, then please don’t hesitate to contact Verisona Law on 02392 98 1000.