'Abuse' homes could have been closed

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GOVERNMENT inspectors who read a confidential report into allegations of abuse in a private home for mentally handicapped adults were so alarmed that they immediately told the local authority it had legal powers to close them.

Buckinghamshire council had decided it did not have the power to ask a court to revoke the licences of the two homes when it sent the report to Herbert Laming, chief inspector of the Social Services Inspectorate in August.

A Department of Health spokesman said yesterday: 'Mr Laming was so disturbed by the dreadful contents of the report he took it to our solicitors for advice. He was utterly appalled the council didn't think they could take action under the Act because they could and that is what he told them.'

Last night the council said: 'We have already taken independent legal advice on this case and are consulting our legal adviser again in the light of Mr Laming's letter.'

Mr Laming's advice emerged after the chairman of Buckinghamshire social services committee wrote to the Independent denying the report was suppressed. It revealed allegations that residents in the two homes run by Longcare Ltd were raped, beaten and humiliated.

'Slave labour', page 3

Letters, page 17