Editorial: We cannot fail children again

Lord McAlpine's settlement is more than 10 times the average awarded to victims

Share
Related Topics

The scale of what happened is not really appreciated, says Peter Garsden of Abney Garsden McDonald solicitors, who is president of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers. He told The Independent on Sunday that 41 out of 43 police forces have conducted inquiries into alleged abuse. And he estimates that 1,000 people are now pursuing compensation for abuse as children in care, most of them for sexual abuse.

As Roger Dobson, our reporter who has covered the North Wales care home scandal for two decades, wrote last week, many of the victims have suffered terribly. He reported on the fate of the four Johns brothers, two of whom are dead. One was unlawfully killed in a fire 20 years ago; another died of a drugs overdose three years later. The fate of the other two is unknown. "More than a decade ago, they were in hiding, fearing that their brothers had been the victims of foul play and that they were next." Today, we publish the testimony of the brothers' teacher, who knew them before they were abused.

Mr Garsden says that money is usually the last thing on a victim's mind. "It is more about being believed, being told it was not their fault, and that there was nothing they could have done to stop the abuse." All the same, the rest of society has a duty to make financial recompense as well. Here we come across a striking disparity. We were glad that the BBC settled so promptly with Lord McAlpine, the Conservative former treasurer who was wrongly accused, if not named, in the Newsnight programme. But his £185,000 settlement is more than 10 times the average compensation awarded to victims of care-home abuse. According to Mr Garsden, the damages won in a recent case handled by his firm averaged £13,900, and in some cases awards have been as low as £2,000.

As we say, we do not begrudge Lord McAlpine his money. No one who heard his interview on the radio last week could doubt the pain caused to him by the untrue allegation. But his suffering has not been weighed in the same scale as that of the hundreds of people whose lives have been ruined by paedophile abuse in care homes.

And we do begrudge the "compensation" secured by George Entwistle, who resigned as director- general of the BBC over the failings of its journalism in the McAlpine case. As our ComRes opinion poll today confirms, nearly 80 per cent of licence fee-payers are opposed to his pay-off, which was £225,000 more than that to which he was contractually entitled. Lord Patten, the chairman of the BBC Trust, said this excessive generosity was "justified and necessary", and that "the alternative was long drawn-out discussions and continuing uncertainty". We are unimpressed.

Our focus, however, as we said last week, should remain on the suffering of the victims of child sex abuse, whose testimony has been downplayed and disbelieved for too long. For that reason, we welcome the announcement last week by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, of his support for Frontline, a scheme to get top graduates into children's social work. It is an idea for which this newspaper has campaigned and on which we reported three weeks ago. Mr Gove's endorsement is a hopeful sign that the quality of child protection in this country can be raised dramatically.

That is what we owe the vulnerable children of the future. Meanwhile, we should compensate more generously the vulnerable children who have been failed in the past.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Our sanctions will not cripple Russia. It is doing a lot of the dirty work itself

Hamish McRae
The Israeli ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, has been dubbed ‘Bibi’s brain’  

Patrick Cockburn: Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire

Patrick Cockburn
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on