Feversham School, Walbottle, Newcastle
North East MPs demand inquiry into historic child sex abuse cases
Jun 18, 2014 18:59
By Jonathan Walker
North East MPs are backing calls for a national inquiry into the extend of child sex abuse in the 70s, 80s and 90s
MPs from across the North East are backing calls for a national inquiry into historic cases of child sex abuse.
They are asking Theresa May, the Home Secretary, to set up “a full, properly-resourced investigation into the failure of the Police to follow the evidence in a number of historical cases of child sexual abuse”.
MPs backing the call include Gateshead MP Ian Mearns and South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.
Newcastle MP Catherine McKinnell said she was moved to back the campaign following “horrific” cases of child abuse in the North East.
Two former social workers were given lengthy jail sentences in April.
John Leslie Duncan, 61, from Gateshead, and Kevin Brown, 58, who was already in jail, were convicted of the abuse they committed against young boys in their care.
The charges related to incidents that took place throughout the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
Duncan’s crimes were committed as he worked at Shotley Park Childrens’ Home in Durham and at the Feversham residential school in Walbottle, Newcastle, both of which have since closed.
Brown’s crimes took place at Feversham school.
Demands for a wide-ranging inquiry into the extent of sexual abuse in this country follow claims that cases were covered up in the past – because those involved had connections with powerful figures at Westminster.
One Labour MP stunned Commons colleagues in 2012 when he claimed that a child abuse network connected to a paedophile had once reached all the way into Parliament and 10 Downing Street.
Tom Watson, best known for his campaign against phone hacking, told the Commons that evidence used to convict a paedophile in a case in 1992 “contains clear intelligence of a widespread paedophile ring.”
He said: “One of its members boasts of his links to a senior aide of a former Prime Minister, who says he could smuggle indecent images of children from abroad.
“The leads were not followed up. But if the file still exists I want to ensure that the Metropolitan Police secure the evidence, re-examine it and investigate clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to Parliament and Number 10.”
Separate allegations have been made about Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith, who died in 2010. The Crown Prosecution Service has said he should have been prosecuted for abuse of boys in Rochdale in the 1960s.
Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who now represents Sir Cyril’s old Rochdale seat, has written a book alleging the former MP was part of a high-level paedophile ring operating at Westminster in the 1970s.
MPs including Tim Loughton, a former Schools Minister, have written to the Home Secretary demanding an inquiry.
And others have expressed their support.
The letter to Mrs May suggests that key evidence in child abuse cases has been lost. It says a panel must examine “why detailed dossiers – such as the documents submitted to the Home Office by the late Geoffrey Dickens – have disappeared” and why police surveillance videos “said to be of prominent people who have been involved in paedophile rings” have gone missing.
It also says that child pornography videos seized by HM Customs & Excise have been lost or destroyed and “investigations appear repeatedly to have been stalled or abandoned over the last thirty years”.
Other signatories include Green party MP Caroline Lucas.
Chilling report of abuse and cruelty at Feversham School
2 Jan 2013
SECRET papers today reveal the harrowing world of the Tyneside special school at the centre of an abuse probe.A report obtained by the Chronicle, and marked extremely confidential, has unearthed details of the controversial regime at Feversham School.
The document was handed to staff and marked for immediate destruction after reading, but a horrified whistle- blower smuggled a copy out of the now-closed school.
Described as a management programme, it was devised after the-then principal of the school decided a pupil had a personality disorder and gives a chilling insight into the shocking conditions the youngster was subjected to.
Although the principal admits his personality disorder diagnosis is simply a hypothesis, the report describes the sort of treatment carers are to give out to the pupil referred to only as “Child”.
Under the guise of treatment, orders were made in the confidential document in which carers were:
Ordered to lock the boy in his room naked.
Banned from smiling, offering sympathy or even a greeting to the child.
Forced to place the child under 24-hour supervision.
Told to punish any “breach” with one hour seated on a hard chair under direct supervision.
According to the report, written in June 1985, the child had a “total lack of capacity to experience feelings like love or hatred, pity, compassion, guilt or remorse” and would not respond to a “tender loving care approach”.
The principal said: “Child is to be given no inadvertent or gratuitous primary or social reinforcement at all by any member of staff – ie, no one is to smile gratuitously at him, greet him cheerfully, stroke or pat him, offer sympathy, nod positively, etc.”
The leaked document comes after we unearthed behind-the-scenes details of the regime at the residential facility for disturbed children aged from six-19, following a Freedom of Information request to Ofsted earlier this year.
The organisation gave us a copy of the last inspection of Feversham, by Newcastle City Council’s social services department in July 1996, which was archived when responsibility for this work passed to Ofsted.
The report, by Annie Bishop, then inspector for children’s services, was the last time an outsider had observed the controversial school in the Walbottle area before its closure in March 1997.
It revealed Feversham charged local authorities £24,000 a year for boarding students and £18,000 a year for day students.
The report revealed children had been restrained hundreds of times by staff in just one year – a revelation that sparked a probe into staff conduct. “The school policy on restraint is being reviewed,” the report said. “Staff will try to avoid using restraints without another member of staff being present as a witness.”
It continued: “There were 306 entries (in the restraints book) since the last inspection. The length of time over which the restraint took place is not always recorded and it is not always clear from the book whether parents (or social worker) are informed after each incident.”
The charity Mind acted as the residential school’s custodian trustee, looking after assets but not running the facility.
A board of governors managed the school, but Mind says it kept no record of their names.
Mind’s chief executive Paul Farmer said: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by the abuse that took place at Feversham.
“Mind was the custodian trustee of the property from which the school was run and was not involved with day-to-day running of the school.
“Mind is no longer involved with any residential educational establishments.”
It was in December last year that we first reported on the shadowy world of Feversham School.
Newcastle North MP and shadow minister for children and young families Catherine McKinnell joined our calls for an investigation.
In April, Northumbria Police responded by setting up an incident room to begin a fresh inquiry.
Two people who worked at Feversham are facing abuse charges.
John Leslie Duncan, 59, from Hyde Park Street, Bensham, Gateshead, has been charged with 17 sex offences.
Kevin Brown, 56, of no fixed address, has also been charged with 17 offences.