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Historical Abuse: Will Their Past Come Back To Haunt Them?"

View profile for Nathalie Clayton
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Reports of historical sexual abuse claims are increasing and becoming ever more prominent in the press. From the Jimmy Saville scandal in 2012 to the more recent allegations involving a number of Premier League football clubs and American film producer, Harvey Weinstein.

Abuse victims often do not come forward for a number of years therefore the majority of them will be ‘out of time’ when it comes to making a claim for compensation. It will therefore be necessary to request the Court’s permission to allow your claim to proceed.

The time limit for bringing an abuse claim is three years from the date of the abuse but in cases involving children, the three year time period begins when the claimant turns 18. In cases where the time limit has expired, it is possible to ask the court to exercise its discretion under section 33 of Limitation Act 1980 to dis-apply the time limit. In deciding whether to do so the Court will usually have regard to a number of issues such as the length of the delay, the reasons for the delay, prejudice to the Defendant and whether it is still possible to have a fair trial. If the Defendant is still alive and able to respond to the allegations, a fair trial should be possible but it may be more difficult if s/he cannot be traced or has died.

An independent inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) was set up by Theresa May in July 2014 following a rise in reports of historic sexual abuse claims particularly involving media and political figures. Its purpose is to examine claims made against local authorities, religious organisations, public and private institutions as well as people in the public eye. The enquiry is set to take 5 years but has been criticised due to the number of changes made to the people dealing with it.

We are acting for a number of former detainees at Medomsley and Kirklevington Detention Centres, who were subject physical and sexual abuse, whilst detained in these young offenders’ institutions.

Durham Constabulary set up ‘Operation Seabrook’, which is a criminal investigation into the allegations of abuse at Medomsley from the 1970’s to 1980’s. There have been approximately 1,350 reports from former inmates alleging they were subjected to some form of abuse, whether sexual, physical or both, during their period of detention. The Police are hopeful that there should be a charging decision later this year. If you need to contact the team you can email them at  or telephone 101 and ask for Durham Constabulary.

Similarly, Cleveland Constabulary set up ‘Operation Magnolia’, to investigate the allegations of abuse at Kirklevington Detention Centre from 1960’s to 1990’s. The Centre was intended to be a ‘short, sharp, shock’ treatment for boys aged between 14 and 17 years old but allegations of physical and sexual abuse have been made by former inmates, who report that they were subjected to abuse by the prison officers during their period of detention. If you have been affected by the abuse at Kirklevington, we would urge you to contact Cleveland Police by calling their 101 number.

If you have been a victim of physical, mental or sexual abuse and you would like to speak in confidence to a Personal Injury Specialist about how to make a claim for compensation, then please contact me or speak with any member of our Personal Injury Team.