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
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: the strange case of the errant royal pronoun

Guy Keleny
Flowers and candles are placed at the site where a refrigerated truck with decomposing bodies was found by an Austrian motorway  

EU migrant crisis: The 71 people found dead in a lorry should have reached sanctuary

Charlotte Mcdonald-Gibson
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future