What is left of IICSA?

Sign-of-the-IICSA-759472This afternoon, Phil Frampton of the Survivors of Organised and Institutional Abuse (SOIA) has formally withdrawn his support for IICSA. This follows the withdrawal of the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association and that of Andrew and Jane Kershaw, two individuals who have worked ceaselessly to bring to the attention of the authorities the child sexual abuse at Forde Park Approved School. Jane Kershaw was granted Core participant status on the 19 August 2016   By the 25th February 2017  this had been withdrawn.

Phil Frampton feels that this leaves IICSA as little more than a box ticking exercise. Those powerful institutions – the church, the local authorities overseeing children’s homes, the Department of Education, the Crown Prosecution Service and the police, indeed the Home Office which had direct responsibility for children’s homes, have been able to fund expensive legal teams and will have both foresight and time to consider the questions that may be posed to them – however survivors will only have a voice where it is provided by pro-bono law firms and no core participation allowing them to pose questions directly.

This is not equality of arms.

Last July, the inquiry’s truth project began. Unfortunately, the statements given to it by survivors have no legal standing – they will appear in the final report, suitably anonymised, much as the girls from Rochdale appeared in Professor Jay’s report on Rochdale.  Tidy little ‘quote marks’ fitted in to the margins to make the page look better. This is not what the survivors envisaged when first David Cameron said, ‘No stone will be left unturned’ nor as series of ‘chairs’ promised to put ‘survivor’s voices at the heart of the enquiry’.

Lowell Goddard went so far as to say that she believed survivors lacked ‘objectivity’, and thus should be excluded. She went on to refer to survivors as ‘the victim community’. This was a woman so sure she was not part of the establishment, that she married a Scottish Laird with a 6,000 acre estate, has given legal advice to 29 different governments, and was both friend of and neighbour to, Lord Brittan.

This is not equality of arms.

I am better known for writing in defence of those falsely accused – it has not blinded my eyes to the fact that there are genuine victims of sexual abuse, nor to the fact that they are slowly and quietly being shafted by this inquiry. They deserve better. 

There were several girls at Duncroft who had been abused – not by the staff, nor whilst they were at the school – so I was never unaware of the horrors of child sexual abuse. Karin Ward had most definitely been abused by members of her family long before she arrived at Duncroft. So was Anita Veale who became a close friend of mine whilst we were both there together. She had felt unable to unburden herself of that memory when we were young, but came to see me years later after she had become both alcoholic and a heroin addict. We talked for hours as she told me of her famous grandfather that she had felt unable to ‘unmask’ as a sexual predator – and I thought I had given her solace and kind words – it was not enough – would anything have been enough? That night she took the train from my house, lay down on Hampstead Heath and drank a bottle of vodka. By morning she was dead. I never have, never will, forget her.

In my work in Wales, I came across many young girls with learning disabilities of varying kinds who had been sexually abused, and received compensation through the criminal injuries board. They would not have received that abuse if there had been sufficient staff to monitor them – so it has always pained me that so much money has been spent chasing false allegations against high-profile names and so little at looking into the institutions that allowed abuse to continue – in all its forms.

IICSA, in its present form will be a ‘talking shop’ for highly paid academics and lawyers to produce endless glossy reports – this is not the answer that the survivors were looking for. They are no nearer to achieving transparency as to the actions of those closed institutions. It is a great shame that some of those with a more ‘vivid imagination’ – the fake ‘victims’ – were allowed to hog all the media limelight, and consume the millions of pounds investigating their ‘fake claims’ leaving people like Phil Frampton still fighting for justice on a shoe string.

They deserve better.

16 thoughts on “What is left of IICSA?

  1. Since the average person apparently has around a 50-50 chance of telling whether someone is lying or not (https://www.newscientist.com/article/2098509-were-discovering-new-ways-to-detect-if-someone-is-lying/), it’s hard to understand how anyone would be able to reliably tell a fake victim from a real one, especially if they remain anonymous and things such as, say, fraud convictions are not disclosed. If even one fake victim is given a voice, is it worth allowing anyone claiming to be a victim to be heard at an official inquiry?

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  2. Not in the least surprised by these horrendous developments – The true deception of the IICSA must be a travesty which would surely eclipse the truth about the Hillsborough disaster; which currently proves to be the worst within the UK’s living memory (no-one has proved anything regarding the deception of Blair’s war in Iraq, except that it stinks to high heaven).

    The truth of those suffering abuse leaves me feeling numb, as we contemplate Anita Veale’s tragedy. How ever many like her there are, they do deserve better!

    How can we obtain a properly independent body which will execute the justice so much needed for this CSA history, over decades?

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  3. “As I was sorting through the flowers this morning, I was thinking about all the white flowers we would need for all the children who have been murdered, tortured, sexually abused, abducted; many gone missing, never to be seen again…”

    http://whiteflowerscampaign.org/category/elm-guest-house-15-september-2014/

    “SOIA is a group of survivor activists formed from within the WhiteFlowers Campaign.”

    Looks to me like Frampton threw his lot in with those with ‘vivid imagainations’.

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  4. My personal opinion-not that that should matter to anyone- is that the moment the IICSA started to haemorrhage lawyers that should have been the moment the genuine survivors woke up and smelt the Vaseline from shafting they were going to get. As someone famous might have said; “to lose one highly paid Brief is unfortunate, to lose 2 incompetence and by the third time it is enemy action”.

    Mind you, everyone else probably realised the moment the remit was published that the whole thing was going to be a crash crash from start to expensive painful finish. Never eat in restaurant whose menu is larger than your face and never expect anything good from an inquiry that doesn’t focus on one specific incident or one institution in a tightly controlled term of reference.

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  5. “…suitably anonymised, much as the girls from Rochdale appeared in Professor Jay’s report…”

    Jay read a handful of files from which she extrapolated the famous figure of 1400 so it’s hard to see how they could NOT have been anonymised, given that the vast majority were, in a sense, imaginary.

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  6. Hate to say it Anna but the conduct of and outcome of the enquiry is/was all too predictable from the very outset. Better no enquiry than a bad enquiry but no enquiry would leave potential loose end and a public enquiry is the classic way to kick something into the long grass and get it off a ministers desk.
    For the system to work one needs the likes of a Lord Devlin who i suspect believed he would need to justify himself to rather greater powers than the politicians …see his Nyasaland report …..and the Armitage report that followed it.
    Gotta say I was (and remain) pretty dubious about some of the more florid claims against Savile and other celebs but I have come round to a personal opinion (for the little that is worth) that child sexual abuse (something I personally cannot fathom) was more prevalent than I believed it to be.

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  7. @Fat Steve Ahh yes Devlin, that (supposedly according to Macmillan) hunchback Fenian stalwart …he’d go down really well with our new tangerine flavoured Lords & Masters , mind you they’d probably forgive him all his fenianism for his views on homosexuality and morality in general.

    Actually I have , for a while, held that the only way to ‘save’ the crash test dummies playpen of the IICSA might be to sack the social worker and appoint Dan Janner QC as chair.

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  8. There´s a list of unmet demands at the bottom of this:

    You’ll note the interchangablity of Whiteflowers/SOIA (“…Whiteflowers considers that survivors’ efforts to secure justice… … SOIA is therefore withdrawing from IICSA…”).

    It’s clear where their interest lies: the sprawling VIPeado rings of Dr Liz’s vivid imagination, rubber-stamped into existence by their own preferred chair, Mike Mansfield. Utter madness.

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  9. As usual Dwarf – you have it absolutely right. From the moment I saw that line up in front of the committee – Dru Sharpling, Alexis Jay blinking into the limelight, and that ghastly man telling her what to say – I felt it was doomed. No direction, no sense of control, and when they sent out that invite to all the survivors telling them how to behave……words fail me.
    AS I understand it, it was all the lawyers from the Matrix firm that followed each other out the door.

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  10. I think that is what she is aiming to do with this report. Pluck an imaginary figure out of the air and say ‘job done’. I feel sorry for the genuine survivors.They thought they had somewhere to go to find justice – and when they got there it was just so much hot air. Perhaps it was always intended to be.

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  11. Gotta say I was (and remain) pretty dubious about some of the more florid claims against Savile and other celebs but I have come round to a personal opinion (for the little that is worth) that child sexual abuse (something I personally cannot fathom) was more prevalent than I believed it to be.

    I think we are in total agreement there.

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  12. The Inquiry was originally intended to be set up to investigate organised and institutional abuse at the highest level of society. In fact, the terms of reference focus is on agency responses to child sexual abuse and not to proactively investigate perpetrators of all forms of abuse and bring them to justice. In 4 years, survivors are no closer to seeing powerful child sex abusers and their networks brought to justice.
    I realise that there are some who are still fixated on bringing down famous names – however, there are still many ordinary children, abused by many ordinary people, who need stopping.
    I think we need to be careful that we are not throwing the baby out with the bath water here.
    I think Mansfield would be disaster — more interested in his own towering ego and tweaking the governments nose, than in serving the interests of ordinary chidlren. I’d rather see someone like Sumption – but he is due to retire in 2018, so second choice would be Lord Kerr.

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  13. set up to investigate organised and institutional abuse at the highest level of society.
    To be honest I haven’t taken a great deal of interest in the whole Child Sexual Abuse thingee being rather more interested in the RESPONSE by Society and its institutions to the various allegations made. With regard to child sexual abuse vague notions of ‘organised and institutional abuse’ particularly ‘at the highest level of society’ seeks
    to make a generalised/conspiracy type finding when to be blunt inadequate work appears to have been done on specific cases that might make any general finding possible.
    I am not saying a culture might not exist in a particular institution to some varying extent (does turning a blind eye to the behaviour of a colleague who is an effectice employee in the eyes of an employer constitute organised and institutional abuse? I don’t know but my best guess it doesn’t if you don’t want it to) . Does the occasional, even relatively frequent cooperation between employees of an institution constitute organised and institutional abuse ? Again I don’t know but my guess is similar. I say this I hope without disengenuosness since I have known many instances of ‘cultures’ that exist in all forms of ‘institutions’from relatively small legal firms up to major institutions. When does cultural bias morph into something organised and institutional ? Well I suppose when in the unlikely event someone in power has the guts to say the culture became all pervasive if one likes almost the raison detre (sp?) of the institution…..perhaps when indididuals confabulate themselves with the notion of the Institution (actually a not infrequent occurence to some greater ot lesser extent but even that doesn’t neccesaraily make it institutional for the institution itself is not the perpetrator)
    The art of gelding a public enquiry may lie (well one of many probably) in allowing the accused (Government usually in one form or another) to choose the term of the indictment (so to speak) rather than having an entirely independent body (well if that is possible in practice) set up to review available evidence and then formulate the indictment so to speak. I sorta see it something along the lines of notions of intent…… premedition,recklessness (not caring or indifference) and negligence (inadequate care for one reason or another), The USA in some ways draws the distinction better than we do with Muder1/Murder2/ Manslaughter of varying degrees. The terms of this enquiry seems to me to be an ‘indictment’ set way too high where no possible enquiry could make a safe finding of the matter complained of for any number of reasons.
    How does one deal with these notions (if I am vaguely correct that its a way of looking at it ?) when the events are distantly historic? I don’t think one can in most circumstances. What one can do though is to make findings of fact in individual cases with varying degrees of safety and then possibly try to join the dots in a satisfactory manner if an independent body reckons it is safe to try and so do.
    My guess as to outcome ? much ernest huffing and puffing about the past falling well short of any finding with the usual pat on the back of new systems in place so that it will never reoccur (till the next time of course).
    Reality Anna ? Fraid there will be more Anita Veales till fundamental notions of the extent of rights and duties to others change.

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  14. Mustache Steve, perhaps a good way of guessing the outcome would be to look at what is being asked for.
    I thought I’d check out the two legal bods working ‘pro bono’ for the SOIA as mentioned above; one is, perhaps unsurpisingly, from Mansfield Chambers (the chambers of the man they would like to lead the IICSA).

    The other is from a P.I. firm whose website genuinely made me chortle with this:

    “All of our staff are Members of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. This is a non-profit making organisation…”

    Aye, strictly speaking I suppose it is, but…
    Anyway, the same team of two (working ‘pro bono’ again?) recently made a submission to the IICSA for ANOTHER group of ‘survivors’:

    https://www.iicsa.org.uk/document/0010022-submissions-david-enright-howe-co-solicitors-and-sam-stein-qc-mansfield-chambers

    Allegations from 40 or more years ago, an institution closed for well over a quarter of a century. What, realistically, can be gained? They call it ‘reparations’ whereas I would call it ‘compo’. Nothing else.
    (The ‘Shirley Oaks’ group have seen the local authority promise a cash payout for EVERY single former-child who passed through the place, a blueprint the pro bono saints are no doubt salivating over.)

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  15. A further thought as to the ‘indictment’ or terms of enquiry. How about an enquiry into the EXTENT that there was institutional ‘COMPLICITY’ in child sexual abuse rather than an enquiry set up to investigate organised and institutional abuse at the highest level of society.
    A lesser count in some respects and tied more to GRADATION of institutional response to abuse by individuals. An easier indictment to get home and dry on and possibly a ‘better’ one assessing the extent of a culture within an institution and if found, would I suspect, satisfy most of the complainants in the sense that its not just the sexual abuse per se but the fact that nobody in authority actively intervened to stop it.
    But Bandini as you point out possibly not adequate for the compo lawyers though I understand some case law since I left practice would probably be adequate
    Its funny Anna but from your description, your Miss Jones at Duncroft strikes me as something of a bench mark for someone who would never be complicit …..that is would never commit a act of omission even if such an omission was non actionable …..looking back at my own schooling I struggle to think of too many in authority who didn’t take the easier course

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  16. Well said Anna Raccoon!

    I agree with Anna, this focus solely on victims of celeb abusers is unfair. What about the (very likely) many more victims of non-celeb abusers in institutions and from family members?

    My own school, St Benedict’s of Ealing, had many instances of teachers and priests abusing young boys. I myself suffered some mild abuse, thankfully not a serious case but still very unpleasant.

    Very often, the abuser would be exposed to the Abbot or headmaster and then simply let go without informing the police.

    What is worse about this Catholic style of abuse is that the perpetrators followed a religion that forbad such things, also they were in loco parentis and had trust and responsibility and lastly, they knew their victims would be frightened of speaking out either from fear of punishment or fear of bringing shame on their family within the tight Catholic parish community.

    One controversial example saw my physics teacher Father Lawrence Soper be accused of abuse and then the Abbot allowed Soper to flee to a new clerical position at the Vatican where he hid from the British law for some years. Thankfully he was eventually brought to British justice just recently though.

    I feel that the senior clergy who allowed the perpetrators to avoid punishment should be prosecuted as severely as the perpetrators.

    This appalling behaviour was, until recently, standard practice throughout the Catholic hierarchy and I despise them and curse every one of them for it.

    A very well written blog that discusses these instances at St Benedict’s is here:
    http://scepticalthoughts.blogspot.co.uk/
    and sadly the blog’s author has also got bogged down with the IICSA proceedings as well.

    I do wish these ambulance chasing lawyers would go after my ex teachers and priests from my school rather than level false accusations against the likes of Cliff Richard.

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