Time ruling threatens actions over sex abuse

UP TO three-quarters of the complainants alleging sexual abuse by Frank Beck the former Leicestershire social worker may be disqualified from damages actions by a Law Lords' ruling.

About 86 hope to bring actions against Leicestershire County Council, which employed Beck - who was given to five life sentences for child sexual abuse in 1991 - and other staff from the county's children's homes. Damages and costs against the council could reach pounds 5m.

But a ruling in December could affect many of the actions. It was made by five Law Lords who decided that Lesley Stubbings, 36, of Wivenhoe, Essex, could not claim damages for alleged sexual abuse by her adoptive father between the age of 2 and 14, and alleged rape by her adoptive brother when she was 12, because she was outside the legal time limits.

The 1980 Limitation Act requires damages claims for personal injury, for rape and indecent assault to be brought within six years of the incident, or within six years of reaching 18.

The Law Lords' decision set a precedent for such actions, reversing earlier High Court and Court of Appeal rulings that Ms Stubbings' action was not time-barred. Some complainants in the Beck case fear they may be disqualified as a result.

Brian Dodds, the liaising solicitor for the complainants, said: 'The ruling in the Stubbings case may or may not apply to us. If it is found the six-year limit applies it would affect a very large chunk of our people. About 75 per cent are over 24. We are looking very closely at the ruling. If necessary we will go to the European courts, although it would add 2 to 10 years to the claims.'

Ms Stubbings' solicitor, Tony Fisher, may take her claim to the European Court of Human Rights. 'I believe the ruling in my client's case effectively means the victims in the Frank Beck case have been left without any remedy,' he said.

'In other parts of the world, such as Canada and several US states, they have changed the limitation laws to give a more flexible limit to cases involving sexual abuse. Their only hope for compensation is the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, which in special cases allows sexual abuse claims to be pursued outside the limitation period.'

A board spokesman said there was a three-year limit for claims but it could be waived. 'The board's discretion is by and large sympathetic where no claim was made on the complainant's behalf at the time, or where they were subsequently unable to claim,' he added.

Browne Jacobson, the solicitors' firm acting for MMI insurers which provides cover for Leicestershire County Council, declined to comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste