Broughton Towers

Broughton Towers, Cumbria

Although located in Cumbria, this school was owned and operated by Lancashire County Council.

Payout for Blackburn man over alleged sex assaults at Cumbrian school

 

9:00am Thursday 12th November 2009 in Broughton-in-Furness news Photograph of the Author By Sam Chadderton, Reporter

ALLEGATIONS: The former Broughton Tower Residential Special School ALLEGATIONS: The former Broughton Tower Residential Special School

A BLACKBURN man who claimed he was sexually abused by a teacher at a special school in Cumbria has accepted £10,000 in an out-of-court settlement.

The 39-year-old went to the Lancashire County Council owned and operated Broughton Tower Residential Special School, Broughton-in-Furness, in the 1970s and 1980s.

According to the victim’s statement, the abuse occured once a week for a year, when the teacher would put the victim in the ‘punishment room’ or ‘dungeon’ and order to him to take his clothes off, before engaging in sexual touching.

Now lawyers from Manchester-based firm Pannone, which brought the civil compensation claim, say there could be more people in Lancashire with similar claims.

Blackburn MP and Justice Minister Jack Straw said he would be looking at the case in more detail to see whether it waranted an inquiry.

Richard Scorer, a partner and specialist in child abuse cases at Pannone, said: “My client was sent to the Broughton Tower Special School in 1978 and was there for four years from the age of eight to 12.

“He was subjected to appalling sexual abuse from a teacher and has been psychologically scarred by his experiences.

“I am of course pleased that we have helped our client to receive at least some financial recompense for his suffering, but it will never take away the psychological wounds he has.

“It is disturbing to think that abuse may have taken place at Broughton Towers, a special school for vulnerable children, which is why it is important to thoroughly investigate the allegations made.”

Following the settlement, the victim, who lives with his partner in East Lancashire, said: “I feel ashamed and embarrassed about what happened to me.

“At the time I felt I couldn’t tell anyone and I have been having flashbacks and nightmares about the abuse for years. I’m glad it’s all over.”

The teacher at the centre of the allegations has never been prosecuted through the criminal system.

The civil compensation claim was due to go to trial next year after a court ruled the case could proceed.

However, the county council has now settled out of court.

The school hit the headlines for the wrong reasons in May 1981 after an inquiry was launched in to reports that the school had locked children in a bare windowless and unheated punishment cell overnight.

The six-foot square punishment room was known to some staff as ‘The Nick’, but officially called the ‘Time Out Room’.

At the time the confidential investigation was labelled ‘hush-hush’. No formal discipliniary action was ever taken.

Described at the time as a ‘school for maladjusted children’, Broughton Towers was run by the Lancashire Educaton Authority and housed more than 30 mixed sex pupils each term, aged between nine and 13, from Lancashire.

Pannone’s Rob Ainscough said: “There were a number of children from the East Lancashire area sent there, including some from Blackburn, Accrington, and the Pennine areas.

“It was a school where children went with either learning difficulties or disruptive behaviour.”

The Blackburn victim eventually told his mother about his ordeal after suffering in silence for years.

His mother sent him to the doctors, who referred him to Pannone law firm and, in turn, the police.

The county council confirmed the accused individual had been a teacher at the school.

Bob Stott, the council’s director of universal and prevention services, said: “We take all allegations seriously, including those of a historical nature.

“A police investigation was conducted into the allegations but no charges were brought.

“The civil claim was settled on the basis of no admission of liability by the county council.

“We have a duty to be prudent with public money and in many cases it is less costly to make such a payment than to incur heavy legal costs.

“The alleged perpetrator is no longer employed by the council and is not believed to be employed elsewhere.”

Broughton Tower was first built in 1330 and left to the LEA in 1947.

In 1997 it was bought by developer and turned into a private residential estate.

The Westmorland Gazette 12/11/09

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