Child abuse battle clears first hurdle

A CHESHIRE solicitor who is campaigning for a public inquiry into numerous instances of sexual abuse at children's homes in his area is preparing to take legal action against Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell.

Peter Garsden, who has written twice to Dorrell demanding an inquiry, has won legal aid to investigate the possibility of seeking a judicial review.

So far three former care workers have been jailed for committing sexual offences at three homes in the area between 1968 and 1993.

Activities at a fourth home have also been the subject of an investigation.

According to Garsden, of Poynton firm Abney Garsden McDonald, more than 50 people have been arrested for suspected abuse at the homes and several more trials are already in the pipeline.

He is at the head of a steering group of 50 solicitors who are acting for around 70 abuse victims who are now seeking compensation.

They believe there are dozens more victims who have yet to come forward with their experiences of abuse at the homes.

Garsden, who plans to launch a civil action against Liverpool City Council and Chester County Council in the New Year, said the victims could not understand why more importance was not being attached to what police had described as one of the largest paedophile inquiries in the country.

“A public inquiry will be able to determine the facts and put pressure on the local authorities and owners of the homes to properly compensate the victims of the abuse,” he said.

“It will help uncover evidence which at the present time is not being voluntarily disclosed and it will also provide answers for the victims and help them to come to terms with their problems.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health confirmed that the Minister had received the letters and was in the process of considering them.