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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Children Outside the United Kingdom Phase 2 Investigation Report

A.1: Introduction

1. In the Protection of Children Outside the United Kingdom investigation, we examine the extent to which institutions and organisations based in England and Wales have taken seriously their responsibilities to protect children outside the United Kingdom from sexual abuse.

2. The first phase of this investigation was a case study on the Child Migration Programmes. It considered the sexual abuse of children sent overseas from England and Wales.

3. This second phase of the investigation is concerned with adults who leave England and Wales and who pose a risk of sexual harm to children overseas. Its scope is drawn from three separate but overlapping areas of concern:

  • The apparently limited use of powers to make civil orders restricting foreign travel by those known to pose a risk to children.
  • Difficulties in ensuring accountability in the criminal courts for British nationals and residents who commit sexual offences against children overseas.[1]
  • Issues with how disclosure and barring regimes apply to those who leave England and Wales to work with children overseas.

4. Some high-profile cases highlight these issues.

4.1. Paul Gadd (also known as Gary Glitter) was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment in 1999 after he admitted possessing 4,000 indecent images of children and was placed on the sex offenders’ register. He was acquitted of charges of child sexual offences pre-dating that conviction but the allegations were well known to the British authorities. He then went on to travel to Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. In 2002 he was expelled from Cambodia over unspecified allegations and in March 2006 he was convicted of sexually abusing two girls, aged 10 and 11, in Vietnam. On his return to the UK, he was placed on the sex offenders’ register for life. In 2015 he was convicted of six sexual offences in the 1970s and 1980s against three girls aged between eight and 13 and was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment.

4.2. The case of Richard Huckle received widespread media attention because of the scale of the abuse he perpetrated. He was investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) following the receipt of intelligence from the Australian authorities. After extensive collaboration with the Australian and Malaysian authorities, Huckle was charged with 91 offences over an eight-year period against 25 children aged between several months and 13 years old. In 2016, he pleaded guilty to 71 of these counts. He was sentenced to 22 life sentences and ordered to serve a minimum term of 25 years’ imprisonment.

5. The Inquiry examined the three legislative regimes in England and Wales that seek to address the areas of concern set out above:

  • the framework of civil orders to prevent individuals known to the UK authorities as posing a risk to children from travelling abroad, set out in the Sexual Offences Act 2003;
  • the use of section 72 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to prosecute British nationals and residents for sexual offences committed against children overseas; and
  • the operation of various disclosure and barring regimes in respect of those travelling from England and Wales who intend to work with children overseas.

These issues were derived from the Inquiry’s terms of reference set by the Home Secretary and the scope of this investigation set by the Inquiry.



  1. Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, section 72(9), a UK national is a person who holds British nationality or citizenship either as a British citizen, British overseas territory citizen, a British National (Overseas) or a British Overseas citizen and a UK resident is a person who resides in the UK.
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