As the future of the Government’s child sex abuse inquiry panel is called into question, a leading Cardiff abuse claims lawyer is calling for the inquiry to have a wider remit to include historic sexual abuse cases within the Scout Association and other trusted institutions.
Michael Imperato of Cardiff-based Watkins & Gunn Solicitors, who is representing a number of victims pursuing historical abuse cases against the Scouts Association, argues that the panel should be replaced with a statutory inquiry that has the power to call witnesses.
In addition to statutory powers, Mr Imperato – the Wales Co-ordinator for the Association of Personal Injury lawyers – claims the panel also needs to have a Welsh representative given the number of cases now in Wales.
This follows the revelation of abuse claims in the Scout movement earlier this year when Martyn Tucker, a former scoutmaster, admitted 26 offences against boys in the 1960s and 1970s and was jailed for 12 years earlier this year. It was also reported by the BBC that the Scout movement knew of the allegations but never informed the police.
Following this discovery, there have been several former Scouts who have come forward after being abused.
Lawyer Michael Imperato, said: “In light of these claims, it is now more important than ever that enquiries into historically abuse claims in the Scouts Association are reviewed. Whilst it will never bring back the innocence of these people’s childhood and erase what has happened, it will, at least, provide them with the justice they deserve.
“It is particularly important that any panel needs to have statutory inquiry rights and a wider remit so that any organisation that are in a position of trust with young people can be investigated at any given time.
“We have a duty to ensure that we protect children and their childhood. With so many child abuse claims being confirmed in various trusted organisations like the scouts, the Catholic church and trusted public figures, it is vital that we put a stop to these terrible actions and get justice for those who have campaigned for it for most of their adult life.”
Theresa May’s panel, which was set up in order to consider whether organisations have taken seriously their duty to care and protect children from sexual abuse, is now in danger of being disbanded.
In a letter to members of the panel, May said she was considering replacing it with a statutory inquiry or replacing it with a royal commission. The third option, which would not involve replacing it, would be to wait for the appointment of a chair and allow them to request statutory powers.
Watkins & Gunn Solicitors offer a wide range of legal services from its three offices in Newport, Pontypool and Cardiff, including Accident Claims, Medical Negligence, Wills and Probate, Employment Law, Business Law, Divorce and Family Law, Childcare Law, Criminal Law, Road Traffic Law, Property Law and Public Law.