Leeways Children’s Home, Orpington

Leeways Children’s Home, Orpington

Sex fears over head of home ‘ignored’

By Nicholas Timmins, Social Services Correspondent

Lewisham social services department has been accused of a serious failure to act over warnings about the behaviour of the head of one of its children’s homes, since jailed for four years for sex offences with children.

For 17 years, Ronald Cooper, aged 56, had worked at the Leeways children’s home in Orpington. He was jailed last June after the court was told he took thousands of “revolting” photographs of naked children, some as young as five. He had admitted sexually assaulting a boy aged 11.

As long ago as 1972, social services staff and others warned senior officers about his behav­iour. But repeatedly the council failed to act, an independent inquiry has found. Complaints about his paedophile activities were ignored or suppressed.

In 1974, the department was again warned of Cooper’s “unhealthy interest” in the children in his care, but the warning was dismissed as not valid. There were further warnings in 1975 and 1976 on which no effective action was taken. In 1977, five junior staff at Leeways also complained about Cooper’s preference for blond, blue-eyed boys, of his favouritism for them and behaviour. They were told they had no evidence and had by­passed correct precedures. All five resigned shortly afterwards.

The report says Cooper “was regarded as having powerful friends, these included the formidable combination of the chair of the social services committee, the social case work division, the trade unions and the visiting psychiatrist”.

Cooper was discovered when police investigating a child prostitute racket in 1984 came across a printer who had developed and exchanged pic­tures with him.

The report says that while the situation in Lewisham has improved, change has not occurred fast enough. “Radical changes in organization and attitudes need to be made to effect any real improvement”

“At almost every point at which collectively or individu­ally the people involved had to choose between making the welfare of the children the first consideration and some con­flicting loyalty or priority, they chose the latter. They did so not from malice, or deliberate wickedness, but because they did not keep in the forefront of their minds their statutory obligations to the children in their care.”

Lewisham social services committee was due to consider the report in closed session last night. The committee’s vice-chairman, Ms Paulette Goudge, said it welcomed the report.

The Times 24/10/85 from Spotlight

The Leeways Inquiry Report 1985 from cathyfox

15 responses to “Leeways Children’s Home, Orpington

  1. Pingback: The Leeways Inquiry Report into Sexual Abuse | cathyfox

  2. iangoodger

    the copy of the inquiry report is missing a few sges.
    the report actually conveys that the dominant paedophiles in the case were both the chairman of social services and the paediatric psychiatrist.

  3. A complete report was now been released there were several pages missing on the one released before.
    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/226159/response/563208/attach/3/The%20Leeways%20Inquiry%20Report.pdf

    The FOI releases slightly more information than before
    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/lawson_report_1985_leeways_child_2#outgoing-386410

  4. ian

    I was interested to read the response of a mother whose son went to Leeways. I am currently casting up the Leeways Report. If the mother would like contact with me all the better as some form pressure group of those affected by Leeways needs to be formed.

  5. Rita my email is cathyfox@bigfoot.com, you are welcome to contact me

  6. Pingback: Paedophilia around Piccadilly Part 4 Playland Trial and Cover up | cathyfox blog

  7. m payne

    i was one of Mr Coopers victims…. i still struggle to understand or piece it all together…..

  8. Tracy Shopland

    Myself and my brother were in a children’s home in Orpington for some time in 1976 but my parents won’t tell me if it is this one, divu no how I could find out please, my name is Tracy shopland was (peacock)
    Thank you for your time

  9. Mike

    Mention mike Payne suggested you’d call

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