Row over compensation payments

Victims of the abusers
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The Independent Online
Several victims of abuse in children's homes in North Wales have been paid compensation for their traumas by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (CICB). More than 10 have received payments in the past three months with a dozen more cases in the pipeline.

The payments have been made after private hearings by the board into allegations of abuse in residential homes. There have been three inquiries into abuse in care homes in North Wales - by the police, the Welsh Office and Clywd County Council. Seven people have been prosecuted successfully.

In some cases compensation has been paid when the people named as alleged abusers have not been prosecuted. Rhodri Morgan, Labour's health spokesman in Wales, said yesterday he will be raising these payments in the Commons.

Ken Badden, advocate with the CICB, said the Glasgow-based board can consider evidence which would not be admissible in court when it is deciding on compensation. "I can confirm that a number of people have received awards for compensation," he said.

"The CICB can take account of evidence which the criminal courts are not allowed to admit because we are given wider powers to admit evidence. We have to satisfy ourselves on the bounds of probability. A criminal court has to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt."

One victim of abuse, Darren Laverty, now 28, received a four-figure amount and says none of the six people he named in his claim have been prosecuted.

Mr Laverty says that much of the alleged physical abuse he suffered took place in Gwynedd. Three of the people he named are from the county, where the local authority did not carry out a major investigation akin to the one which took place in neighbouring Clwyd. "I was subjected to general physically abuse. I was hit with tables, head butted, thrown through windows," said Mr Laverty. "I suffered more serious abuse in Gwynedd than in Clwyd. My time there was a nightmare."

Mr Badden declined to discuss individual cases but said a number of other applications are now being made to the CICB naming alleged perpetrators of abuse in North Wales.

North Wales Police carried out Britain's biggest child abuse inquiry starting in 1991 into the treatment of children in residential homes. According to a report commissioned by the Welsh Office, 300 cases were referred to the Crown Prosecution Service which recommended eight prosecutions, seven of which were successful.

Rhodri Morgan said yesterday: "I will be asking parliamentary questions about the number of payment to victims of child abuse in North Wales homes and in which cases were those payments authorised by the CICB although there had been no proceedings against the alleged perpetrators."

Meanwhile, pressure is growing for an independent report (carried out on behalf of Clywd) into child abuse in North Wales to be published. The report was finished more than a month ago but there are fears that wranglings over what should be published will drag on.

It is thought likely that the report's author, John Jillings, former director of social services in Derbyshire, will be invited back to produce a publishable version.