'pounds 40m' damages for child abuse

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Compensation for people abused as children in residential homes is likely to total more than pounds 40m.

At least 400 men and some women, whose allegations of abuse are to be the subject of two inquiries which the Government announced last week, are seeking recompense for their pain and suffering. A handful of cases so far settled have resulted in payments ranging from pounds 50,000 to pounds 150,000.

Another 150 claims for damages from victims of abuse in Clwyd and Cheshire have been received by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and 55 have so far been settled. At least another 200 claims are expected.

Lawyers have advised victims not to accept low out-of-court settlements from insurers, after one victim who was offered pounds 1,750 was later awarded pounds 80,000 in court.

Tomorrow, the Welsh Secretary, William Hague, will announce details of the judicial review into the Clwyd affair, including its terms of reference, and Stephen Dorrell, Secretary of State for Health, will give details of the separate review into procedures in children's home to combat abuse.

Meanwhile, four more suicides have been added to the list of young men whose deaths are linked to their abuse while in care. All were victims of Frank Beck, the convicted paedophile who died in jail. At least 12 deaths of former Clwyd home residents were linked by the Jillings inquiry, commissioned by the county council, to the abuse they suffered in care. Two other suicides in London have been blamed on past abuse in care.

For 20 years, hundreds of victims kept quiet about the horrors of abuse in children's homes. But with two inquiries and at least eight police forces investigating allegations of abuse in homes in different parts of the country, many more claims are expected.

Solicitor Peter Garsden, who coordinates the claims in Cheshire, said: "The statements are horrifying. The scale of abuse was quite terrible, unimaginable for any one outside the system. It is sickening to see the level of depravity."