Skip to main content

0800 917 1000   Open weekdays 9am-5pm

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Children in the care of Lambeth Council Investigation Report

Contents

J.3: The investigation and prosecution of child sexual abuse relating to children in the care of Lambeth Council

17. In response to requests from the Inquiry, the Metropolitan Police Service identified from its records a total of 283 allegations of sexual abuse made by children in the care of Lambeth Council.[1]

Period Number of allegations made to the Metropolitan Police Service
1963 to 1988 18
1989 to 1999 63
2000 to 2010 109
2011 to 2020 93

Source: Simon Morley 22 July 2020 6/11-19

18. By contrast, as at June 2020, Lambeth Council was aware of 705 former children in care who have made allegations of sexual abuse linked to three of the case study homes:

  • 529 individuals made allegations against a total of 177 adults employed at or connected with Shirley Oaks;[2]
  • 140 individuals made allegations in respect of South Vale;[3] and
  • 36 individuals made allegations arising from Angell Road against nine adults and further unknown persons.[4]

19. The figures from the Metropolitan Police Service and Lambeth Council are both likely to be a significant under-representation of the number of children who were sexually abused. As Dr Clive Driscoll (retired detective inspector (DI) with the Metropolitan Police Service) observed, the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association obtained complaints from more than 600 people:

How has that happened when we were the agency that should investigate and we were the agency that should have been focusing on what the victims – their needs?[5]

DI Simon Morley agreed that the number of allegations made to the police (compared with the number of allegations of which Lambeth Council is aware) suggests a failure by the police to properly engage with victims and give them the confidence to come forward”.[6] LA-A311, for example, was at South Vale in the late 1970s and described sexual abuse by two staff members. He said that he tried to report it to police, but “they didn’t want to know”.[7]

20. In terms of prosecutions before the 1990s, the Inquiry is aware of two acquittals – of Donald Hosegood and Patrick Grant in 1975 and 1978 respectively.[8] Hosegood was the house father at Fir Cottage in Shirley Oaks between 1968 and 1975. Grant was officer in charge at Rowan House in Shirley Oaks in 1977. Following his acquittal, Grant was moved from Rowan House into adult care, but remained working for Lambeth Council until 1985.[9]

21. Prior to 1992, investigations into allegations of child sexual abuse were conducted by individual officers based at local police stations, without any more comprehensive or joined-up approaches considered.[10] As Commander Murray told us, these Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officers in London dealt with “a whole array of crime” in the 1970s and 1980s, despite sexual offences requiring different skill sets.[11]

22. Children in care were frequently stereotyped and the Inquiry received evidence that their complaints were dismissed.

22.1. In February 1977, two children made an allegation of sexual abuse against Philip Temple, a house father at Rowan House, Shirley Oaks. They were accompanied to the police station by social workers. One social worker noted that one child became upset when questioned. The police officer said that he would not question the child any further as he was too young”, and also that he had “not questioned anyone as young as these two in this type of case before.[12] Temple was interviewed twice – he “threatened suicide but still maintained that the children had fabricated the story”.[13] The children were questioned further, “as a person’s career was at stake”.[14] As the social worker recorded, one of the children:

apparently broke down and cried and the DCs then left him to talk to CP and came out saying, ‘He’s halfway there. We’re sure it’s a string of lies. He’s about to tell the truth’. At this point, we felt the police seemed relieved they could exonerate the house father whom they described as desperate. We felt that the police simply had no technique for interviewing the children, which they admitted themselves.[15]

Temple was released without charge but a further allegation of sexual abuse was made in April 1977 by the family of LA-A4. Another police officer visited the family and was provided with a statement from LA-A4.[16] In June 1977, LA-A4’s social worker recorded that “the police had not been back and nothing else had been heard about the matter.[17] It does not appear that the Director of Public Prosecutions’s (DPP) Office was approached for advice at the time.[18] LA-A4’s allegations were raised with Temple by managers from Lambeth Council in July 1977 – Temple “admitted that there was truth in it [the allegations]” and resigned.[19] Lambeth Council did not take any other action, including to inform the police.[20] In 2016, Temple pleaded guilty to 29 offences, including 27 child sexual abuse offences against 13 children (including LA-A4), of which a number dated back to the 1970s.[21] As a result of concerns about the performance of the Metropolitan Police Service in investigating Philip Temple, there was a self-referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in 2016.[22]

22.2. In 1984, LA-A156 was in care. She reported to the police that she had been sexually abused. The alleged abuser was prosecuted in relation to other victims, but he was not prosecuted in relation to LA-A156. She told us that the police said:

they already had enough evidence from the other girls and ‘would not prosecute relating to my assaults’ … I was made to feel the assault was my fault. It felt like they thought I was lying and yet they knew LA-F259 had already been charged in the past for assault on another girl.[23]

22.3. LA-A457 lived in a foster placement in Lambeth in the 1980s. As a young child, she was interviewed by the police about her allegations of sexual abuse by the foster carer’s son.

I remember the look on the police officers’ faces at how forward I was, describing this sort of abuse in a lot of detail at 8 years old. Surely, this should have set off alarm bells. I was taken back home.

23. As the interview took place in her foster carer’s presence, LA-A457 did not feel able to give the name of the alleged perpetrator to the police. She said that her foster carer:

told the officers that I was just a drama queen; that was the end of it. There was no further questioning, no investigation. It was swept under the carpet.[24]

24. Some children ran away from care and were sent back, despite making allegations of sexual or other abuse.

24.1. LA-A7 tried to report abuse by Leslie Paul (a care officer at South Vale children’s home in Lambeth) in the 1980s, when he ran away from South Vale. He said:

l would be accused of being a liar. I would tell the police l was scared to go back to South Vale, and I recall the police asking staff why l was so scared. I don’t recall anything further happening about this.[25]

He was sent back to the home after making these disclosures. In December 2015, Paul was convicted of the sexual abuse of LA-A7 in 1980.[26]

24.2. LA-A131 also described sexual abuse by Paul. He was too afraid to report the abuse as he was frightened of Paul:

I feared that things would get worse if I said anything. My response was to run away. By this point in my life, it was my natural reaction – to run away from things I did not like, particularly violence and abuse.[27]

24.3. LA-A311 described abuse by two staff members at South Vale. He says he ran away from South Vale on three or four occasions. The police would take him back, “even though I told them what was happening. They were not interested”.[28]

24.4. LA-A271 was abused by LA-F145 at Shirley Oaks and said that “I did quite a bit of running away from Shirley Oaks as I couldn’t handle what was happening any more”. LA-A271 reported physical abuse to local police “but they weren’t having any of it and no-one was arrested”.[29]

24.5. Russell Specterman was placed at numerous care homes. When he was 12, he ran away from one of the care homes, at which he was being sexually abused. He said:

I told the police what was happening to me. They did not believe me and I was returned to my abusers. I’d run home and was found hiding under the bed.[30]

25. Although the police were sympathetic to some complainants when they recounted abuse, that did not always result in investigation or prosecution.

25.1. In 1971, LA-A67 reported to his house mother that he had been sexually abused by LA-F93, a deputy superintendent at Shirley Oaks.[31] The abuse had occurred between 1969 and 1971, when LA-A67 had been between 10 and 12 years old. He was subsequently interviewed by the police, with his house mother present. LA-A67 said:

At one stage the officers told this woman [the house mother] to stop interrupting or we will cancel the interview and start all over again. She said go ahead and cancel it. It won’t make any difference to us and we believe not a word of it is true … They took my statement in writing. This was the first time somebody believed me, I wasn’t called a liar or accused of making it up. The police told me they believed me, and thanked me for giving an honest interview from memory they said my evidence would not stand up in court because I was a juvenile and unreliable witness and I wouldn’t be able to stand up to a defence barrister and it would be too much for me to bear. They said they felt sorry for me but there was nothing they could do. At this point the woman seemed very relieved. We got up and left the police station.[32]

LA-A67 recalled feeling “shattered” by the experience and by returning to live in Shirley Oaks with LA-F93 still present. He said, as a result, he was “resigned” to abuse by another man working at Shirley Oaks, William Hook (who he knew as ‘Mr Mark’), as he felt that no one would believe him, given what happened when he reported LA-F93.[33]

25.2. LA-A25 was sexually abused by Hosegood (house father at Shirley Oaks) and gave evidence at his trial in 1975. When she made her initial complaint to the police, the interviewing officer said that “I know you are telling the truth”.[34] However, the process took all day. When the officer left the room, she was locked inside.[35] She also told us that, after her interview, she received “no support” from the police.[36]

26. Children with communication difficulties were dealt with dismissively. For example, as set out in Part C, in 1986 the Metropolitan Police Service investigated sexual abuse alleged of LA-F12 by LA-A26. Interviewing LA-A26 at the police station in December 1985 in the presence of her mother and a social worker, Ms Anne Worthington, the interviewing officer, recorded that LA-A26:

was unable to communicate properly and incapable of forming a complete sentence … It was quite obvious that LA-A26 could never give any evidence in a court of law”.[37]

27. Following an attempted physical examination of LA-A26, a police divisional surgeon (now deceased) stated that LA-A26 was “barely able to communicate” and “could not give evidence”.[38] The prosecutor examining the case noted that:

As the law stands at present it is not possible to proceed against [LA-F12] in view of the inability of the alleged victim to give evidence in person, on oath or otherwise. There is no corroboration in the way of medical evidence and the law as it stands is that it is unsafe to proceed … I do not even have the benefit of the victim’s evidence”.[39]

28. The police were not asked by the Crown Prosecution Service to consider how they might interview LA-A26. Mr McGill told us that:

if the police require early investigative advice or investigative advice, we have a procedure whereby we can provide that to them. I don’t know what the procedure was in 1986, but prosecutors should, if requested by the police, provide such advice, but it needs to be remembered that we have no power to direct the police to do anything and we have no power to direct them to come to us to seek advice. We will provide advice if asked by the police, but we have no power to make them do anything.[40]

If LA-A26 was reporting an allegation to the police today, it would be expected that her communication skills would be properly assessed and that she would be assisted by an intermediary during a police interview.

29. The Crown Prosecution Service provided legal advice in respect of the situation at Monkton Street children’s home. A number of children had been medically examined for signs of sexual abuse. There was no primary evidence from the children within Monkton Street – rather, an account and an interpretation of that account by one parent in particular. A meeting was held in November 1986 between the Crown Prosecution Service and DI Graham Barnett to discuss the case. This was followed up by a letter in November 1986 in which Assistant Branch Crown Prosecutor David Hewett wrote:

Having considered the matter and taking into account the fact that the prosecution will derive no assistance from any forensic evidence, I am of the view that there is insufficient evidence to justify a prosecution against LA-F26. I am, as you know, concerned about the surrounding circumstances of this case and, if any further evidence were to come to light which you considered strengthened the prosecution case, then I would ask you that the evidence be passed to me immediately.[41]

On 26 November 1986, it was confirmed that the DPP had decided not to prosecute.[42] In oral evidence to the Inquiry, Mr McGill agreed that Mr Hewett’s approach was one that kept the lines of communication between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service open.[43]

30. Dr Alison Steele, a member of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, and formerly the named doctor for safeguarding for Great Ormond Street Hospital, told us about current practice in the medical examination of children following allegations of sexual abuse. She said that care is needed in any medical examination conducted prior to a child giving an Achieving Best Evidence interview, so as not to undermine or contaminate the criminal justice process.[44] In Dr Steele’s view, a medical examination following a sexual assault:

can actually be quite a positive experience if it is done properly, if children are prepared, they’re re-empowered, they’re given choices, they have got questions they might want to ask about their body, about what’s happened to them. So I actually think it is actually – not for all children, but I would hope that it would be a more positive thing for most children and it gives them the opportunity to discuss things that maybe they haven’t been able to discuss with people who aren’t doctors or health professionals.[45]

Operation Bell, 1992

31. Operation Bell, which was established in 1992, was the first Metropolitan Police Service investigation to focus on allegations of child sexual abuse at a children’s home run by Lambeth Council.

32. It was led by Detective Superintendent (Det Supt) Brian Tomkins (the senior investigating officer) and DI Robert Randall (the investigating officer). There were no formal terms of reference, but Det Supt Tomkins later described his approach:

Whilst we were dealing with specific allegations in relation to LA-A17 and LA-A157 there were concerns about the possible abuse of other children resident at South Vale and of the activities of some of the staff and management at the home. My policy was to investigate the specific allegations and any other allegations that came to light that were supportable or allowed avenues of investigation. Whilst the policy was to concentrate on activities within South Vale Children’s Home where specific allegations were made other allegations would be investigated regardless of the location.[46]

33. As no decision log was maintained or notes taken of meetings, it is difficult to evaluate the investigative strategy and decision-making.[47] In 2001, Det Supt Tomkins told Operation Middleton that they used a Metropolitan Police Service questionnaire to identify witnesses from whom to take a statement. DI Morley told us that about 40–50 questionnaires were sent out to various former residents at South Vale, inviting them to talk about any concerns or to list any concerns they had.[48] Witness interviews were to be conducted jointly by a police investigator and a member of social services staff independent of South Vale. Where possible, at least one of the interview team was required to be of the same gender as the witness.[49]

34. The Inquiry was aware of the suggestion that Michael John Carroll (who worked at Angell Road and was subsequently convicted of sexual offences) was a social services link working with Operation Bell.[50] We note that Operation Bell began in 1992 and Carroll left Lambeth Council’s employment in August 1991.[51] DI Morley confirmed that he had not seen anything to suggest that Carroll was around at that time, or that Carroll was a social services lead or link for Operation Bell.[52]

Prosecutions arising from Operation Bell

35. Operation Bell investigated four alleged perpetrators of abuse. Three men were charged, but Leslie Paul was the only man convicted.

35.1. In December 1992, Paul was charged with nine offences of child sexual abuse in respect of LA-A17, LA-A157 and LA-A319, one of whom was in the care of Lambeth Council at South Vale.[53] He was convicted, in January 1994, of two counts of indecent assault, one count of indecency with a child and one count of taking indecent photographs of a child. He was sentenced to two years and six months’ imprisonment.[54]

35.2. LA-F5 (a care worker) was charged with buggery against LA-A80, a former South Vale resident.[55] A trial took place in May 1993, but the judge directed a ‘not guilty’ verdict. It appears that this was because LA-A80, who was only 12 years old, became upset and was unable to complete his evidence.[56]

35.3. LA-F4 (who worked at Angell Road) was charged with rape and indecent assault of LA-A74. The trial, in 1993, was discontinued on the first day.[57] Allegations against LA-F4 by LA-A94 in the late 1980s were reconsidered by Operation Bell. However, a decision was made by the officer not to trace LA-A94 as “over 3 years had passed since the alleged incident”.[58]

Failures of Operation Bell

36. As recognised by the Metropolitan Police Service, Operation Bell did not begin to establish the scale of abuse being perpetrated against children at South Vale or more widely against children in the care of Lambeth Council.[59] Although Paul was convicted in 1994, the investigation into him lasted only for around six months. Operation Bell did not take adequate steps to contact former residents at South Vale.[60] As a result, it did not detect the extent of Paul’s offending (which required three investigations in total) or the scale of child sexual abuse at South Vale.

37. Operation Bell did not investigate thoroughly on receipt of some information.

37.1. A house father provided information about LA-F205, LA-F5, Paul and LA-F8, and identified 23 children at South Vale who he thought were “close to Les [Paul] or certainly vulnerable”.[61] Initial research seems to have been undertaken in relation to 14 children but not followed up, while some former residents were not traced.[62] Four of the children subsequently came forward to Operation Middleton.[63] As DI Morley noted, Operation Bell had an “uneven or inconsistent approach to former children in care, which led to it failing to identify victims of Paul – some former residents were simply not traced or spoken to.[64]

37.2. Having received information from a member of staff at South Vale and other individuals about the care of children at the home, Councillor Clare Whelan passed it on to the police.[65] She told them about a “3 year, high level cover up of child abuse”, naming 14 individuals, divided into “involved or implicated,have knowledge or covered up and “information providers”.[66] There is no record of Operation Bell officers meeting with Councillor Whelan or of obtaining any statement from her. A briefing note reveals that there was some caution about her political motivation for making the complaint.[67] It also appears that the police made contact with some but not all of the individuals named – it is unclear why some were not contacted.[68]

38. Investigation files were lost within Operation Bell.[69] We were told by the Metropolitan Police Service that papers became separated and were unavailable to a subsequent investigation, Operation Middleton. DI Morley was unable to ascertain how or why the files became separated.[70] The separated files were likely put together again in 2013, but the loss of records hampered the prosecution of some perpetrators later investigated by Operation Middleton.[71]

39. The failure to locate the Operation Bell papers was considered to be “fatal to proceeding with the Operation Middleton prosecution of LA-F8 for sexual abuse of LA-A71, who was in care at South Vale in 1991.[72] The Crown Prosecution Service considered that it could not meet its disclosure obligations (including whether LA-A71 had made an earlier allegation to Operation Bell – which he had not) and decided that there was not a realistic prospect of success.[73]

40. The absence of notes or logs affected subsequent police investigations and prosecutions. Abuse of process arguments could be raised on behalf of defendants in an application to dismiss prosecution cases. The failure to keep records of allegations made by complainants safe was a serious oversight.

41. In December 1994, Det Supt Tomkins wrote to Mr David Pope, director of social services, to bring to his attention “some areas of concern” identified by those interviewed about South Vale. While he did not “presume to criticise your department, but offer them for your consideration”, Det Supt Tomkins made it clear that the Zephyrine report had been shallow, with little interrogation of witnesses or discussion with children.[74]

42. In September 1992, during Operation Bell, officers searched Paul’s flat and recovered naked photographs of a child (who was not in the care of Lambeth Council). DI Randall, a police officer in Operation Bell, recorded:

During the course of searching Paul’s address, a large quantity of homosexual pornography was seized. As a result of subsequent inquiries made, and indeed, as a direct consequence to what police have been told by a victim of indecency, it is the firm belief of the investigating officers that Paul is concerned in a commercial enterprise involving male paedophilia … In order to pursue this line of enquiry, it is necessary to establish the identities of the other persons concerned with Paul in this commercial enterprise.[75]

43. After Paul’s release on bail in 1992, covert surveillance of his property was established within Operation Bell.[76] It took place over four days from 30 November 1992.[77] Nothing of note was recorded on the surveillance log.[78] DI Morley told us that it was difficult to imagine that a document was not produced concluding the surveillance.[79] He also said that establishing covert surveillance after Paul’s arrest would have reduced its impact:

the obvious time to do that would be in an evidence-gathering phase before you made any arrests, and to do it for a longer period of time. There is an element, when I take a look at that, of thinking, well, the horse has bolted there, rather.[80]

44. The alleged making and distribution of child sexual abuse images was not investigated adequately in 1993. As DI Randall noted above, officers believed Paul was involved in a commercial enterprise and that it was necessary to establish the identities of others involved in the enterprise. And yet, no others went on to be identified by the Metropolitan Police Service.

45. In 1993, during an investigation called Operation Pragada, allegations that “pornography, possibly involving children, was being made and distributed within Lambeth Council” were being considered by the Metropolitan Police Service.[81] There was no liaison between the officers within Operation Pragada and Operation Bell (for example, to seek any material about Paul). This was an important opportunity to examine potential links between sexual offenders at the time, and it was missed.

Operation Middleton, 1998–2003

46. Operation Middleton was established in November 1998 and closed in June 2003.[82] It initially supported a Merseyside Police investigation – Operation Care – into alleged abuse by Carroll.[83]

47. Run as a joint investigation with Lambeth Council social services, Operation Middleton was an early example of the police and social services working together. The Lambeth Council team was known as CHILE ( Children’s Homes in Lambeth Enquiry), led by an independent consultant (Ms Helen Kenward) with a team of independent social workers who had no prior affiliation to the Council.[84] Its Gold Group, responsible for strategic review and oversight, included senior officers of the Metropolitan Police Service, Dame Heather Rabbatts as Lambeth Council’s chief executive and Ms Kenward. A Crown Prosecution Service lawyer also attended its meetings.[85]

48. CHILE’s remit (as set out in terms of reference agreed in December 1998) was to investigate all alleged offences of abuse committed by any persons over the age of 18 against children who were in the care of Lambeth Council between 1974 and 1994, where “credible evidence or intelligence exists”.[86] The principle of agencies cooperating with each other was to be adopted and the Crown Prosecution Service was approached at an early stage with a view to having a special case worker appointed as the point of liaison.[87]

49. Operation Middleton was initially staffed by a mixture of detectives with differing expertise. There were detectives from murder teams, recruited because it was to be run on the HOLMES system, which they had used before and which, DI Morley told us, “needs people with specialist training to do it”.[88] Officers with child protection experience were also part of the team and more were recruited as the investigation progressed.[89] However, as accepted by DI Morley, there were insufficient officers with a strong understanding of child protection.[90] Team numbers never exceeded a total of 14. Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Steve Ranson, senior investigating officer for Operation Middleton, did not feel that the operation was adequately staffed and raised concerns throughout the investigation.[91] By comparison, the now ongoing Metropolitan Police Service investigation into child sexual abuse (Operation Winter Key) involves 80 to 85 officers.[92] Deputy Assistant Commissioner Carole Howlett told the Inquiry that she did not have any further resources available to allocate to Operation Middleton.[93]

50. Operation Middleton’s approach was ‘intelligence led’, which DI Morley said meant:

working with CHILE to identify potential offenders and potential victims and, from that starting point, to move forward.[94]

51. There were various strands to this approach:

  • social workers liaised with police to review documentary evidence provided by Lambeth Council to identify individuals to investigate;
  • the Metropolitan Police Service made enquiries about specific people, including staff members in children’s homes where there were concerns;
  • a telephone hotline staffed by CHILE; and
  • a media strategy to deal with people coming forward and to correct misinformation in the press.[95]

52. However, in January 1999, Operation Middleton decided not to send generic letters to former children in care. This cold letter approach” – which was used in Operation Care, including to contact former Angell Road residents – was considered to be “a very insensitive approach”.[96] Mr Gargini told us that he received advice from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) lead to the effect that there would need to be “a proper risk assessment around the impact of an approach by police” before this type of contact letter could be adopted.[97] As a result, it was decided: “All victims to receive personal visit after proactive intelligence led approach. To reduce distress to victims and families”.[98] While it is important to avoid unnecessary distress to victims, Operation Middleton could have sought to make contact in a sensitive way. As Commander Murray commented, when asked about intelligence-led approaches to investigations:

the senior investigating officer would need to assess what is the best approach to look for either additional witnesses or additional victims. That could be questionnaires, it could be direct approaches. Often the way we do it is by saying, rather than ‘Have you been a victim of crime?’, ‘Have you witnessed something?’, so it can minimise the disruption to people’s lives if they weren’t expecting a visit.[99]

Prosecutions arising from Operation Middleton

53. Operation Middleton investigated 124 allegations of abuse.[100] Sixteen cases were referred to the Crown Prosecution Service and five men were charged.[101]

53.1. Paul was convicted of five offences of indecent assault against a child and was sentenced to a total of 18 months’ imprisonment.[102]

53.2. Hook was charged with 37 offences against seven victims and pleaded guilty to 26 offences.[103] He was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.[104]

53.3. Geoffrey Clarke, who had been charged with numerous offences of indecent assault and possession of indecent images, killed himself before the conclusion of his trial.[105]

53.4. The case against LA-F38, who had been charged with multiple counts of rape and indecent assault, was discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service because of a lack of supporting evidence and material that was said to undermine the credibility of the victim.[106]

53.5. LA-F14 was charged with indecent assault against a child and firearms offences. When he pleaded guilty to the firearms offences, the indecent assault charges were discontinued.[107]

54. The Crown Prosecution Service did not prosecute LA-F37, who was seen by a house mother in LA-A76’s room after sexually assaulting LA-A76. The assault was also witnessed by another girl in the room, LA-A105. Although there is no longer a file, it would appear concerns were raised about the impact of any prosecution upon LA-A105 and LA-A76 and the impact this might have upon the prospects of conviction and whether a prosecution was required in the public interest. LA-A105 was deemed too vulnerable to give evidence, although she was willing to do so. With the evidence of LA-A76 and the house mother “a prosecution could potentially have continued even without LA-A105”, as the Crown Prosecution Service noted.[108]

Failures of Operation Middleton

55. Operation Middleton closed in July 2003, although this had been contemplated since February 2002.[109] The decision to close was made jointly between the Metropolitan Police Service and Lambeth Council, on the basis that “all outstanding trials and lines of inquiry” had been completed.[110] However, as senior officers were aware, it had not reached all or even most victims. In August 2003, DCI Ranson noted:

In total 6008 children are known to have been placed in care by Lambeth during the period mentioned in the terms of reference. The borough now has computerised records of these and all their staff. As the investigation was intelligence led about 15% of this total was seen by the joint team. It would therefore be naive and wrong to think that all victims and suspects were identified by this investigation.[111]

As a result, a number of perpetrators were not identified by Operation Middleton. The investigation closed prematurely and without fulfilling its terms of reference.

56. A strategic decision was made by Operation Middleton to prioritise investigation of those perpetrators who still had contact with children, in order to deal first with those who might pose the greatest ongoing safeguarding risk.[112] As a result, long-term offenders – such as Paul, who worked in a Lambeth Council children’s home for over 10 years – were not prioritised.[113] The scale of his offending did not come to light until much later, during Operation Trinity.

57. There were numerous allegations against Temple and he was identified as a suspect, but Operation Middleton failed to speak to him. This was justified on the basis that he had been the subject of a previous investigation.[114] DI Morley described this as “serious investigative failures”.[115] It placed children at risk.

58. Operation Middleton failed to investigate adequately whether children in the care of Lambeth Council were abused by Steven Forrest (a team leader at Angell Road children’s home between 1983 and his death in 1992, from an AIDS-related illness).[116]

58.1. The Metropolitan Police Service was aware of allegations made in 1996 by LA-A29 of sexual abuse by Forrest at Angell Road when LA-A29 was less than 10 years old.[117] A planning meeting was organised by Lambeth Council but the Metropolitan Police Service decided not to attend because Forrest was dead.[118] Attending that meeting would have allowed officers to assess the evidence first hand and to consider in light of that whether further steps were necessary.[119] The failure to contact LA-A29 at that time, as acknowledged by DI Morley, was a basic investigative step that should have been taken.[120] As concluded by Mr John Barratt (an independent investigator instructed by Lambeth Council) in his 1999 investigation into Lambeth Council’s failure to respond effectively to these allegations, the fact that Forrest had died did not mean that an investigation was not required. The prospect that other children had been abused was “substantial” and the possibility that Forrest had associates “could not be dismissed”.[121]

58.2. An investigation was only reopened by the Metropolitan Police Service because of the intervention of Merseyside Police in relation to LA-A29 in 1998.[122] Merseyside Police was conducting an investigation into Carroll at the time. When a Metropolitan Police Service officer spoke to LA-A29 in October 1998, the interview was unplanned. Mr Barratt’s view was that this was inappropriately conducted:

the interview with LA-A29 was patently ill-prepared and was not conducted in accordance with recognised good practice. With no warning, a policeman, unaccompanied, talks to LA-A29 in his bedroom, about LA-A29 being sexually abused by a man in his bedroom at Angell Road![123]

59. Operation Middleton did not investigate potential links between alleged offenders. In 2016, Paul was sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment for 18 offences of child abuse. The sentencing judge is reported to have stated:

If you were not part of a paedophile ring, you were at least knowledgeable about and in contact with a group of paedophile men.[124]

Paul had been a special constable (a part-time volunteer for the Metropolitan Police Service) between 1978 and 1981. In July 1979, he was stopped in “somewhat suspicious circumstances” in the toilets in Piccadilly Circus, but “no further action” was taken – there is no surviving documentation which records what these circumstances were. In 1981, Paul resigned as a special constable “due to pressure of work”.[125] A care worker at South Vale in the late 1970s and 1980s told the police (in 2003) that Paul had taken children into Soho.[126] The taking of children into the West End of London by a sexual offender (an area reported as being a congregating spot for boys and young men where they were solicited and sexually exploited by older men) raises questions about where he was taking them and who they were with.

60. DI Morley accepted that there was evidence of links between Hook and Hosegood, who both worked at Shirley Oaks.

I think there are clear links in statements that were taken where Hook in particular and Hosegood are linked together, and there are definite links there, and I see no evidence that they were properly investigated during Operation Middleton.[127]

One complaint referred to Hosegood showing a child in care pornographic photographs of adults while someone named ‘Mark’ was present.[128] ‘Mark’ was one of Hook’s known aliases.

61. Another separate allegation involving Hook and another man was reported in 2016 by LA-A337. She described an indecent assault by LA-F93, also alleging that Hook had held her shoulders and prevented her from leaving. The Metropolitan Police Service appeared to minimise the allegation against Hook. As regards Hook, the investigation closure report stated that “No sexual assault allegations are made as such against suspect 2, Hook. Facilitating is alluded to”.[129]

62. There was a similar lack of engagement by Operation Middleton, when evidence emerged that Lambeth children had been placed at Bryn Alyn Community Children’s Homes in North Wales. These homes were owned (during the 1970s and 1980s) by John Allen, who was convicted in 1995 and 2013 of a total of 33 counts of child sexual abuse.[130]

62.1. In February 2000, Ms Kenward told Dame Heather Rabbatts that:

I have researched the number of children placed by Lambeth at Bryn Alyn and so far we have seventeen. The team has the files and are preparing the necessary information to interview all seventeen … the North Wales Police have not alerted us to these young people as part of their inquiry”.[131]

62.2. DCI Ranson recorded, later in February 2000, that 45 children had been identified as placed in North Wales.[132] Research and trace actions were raised against 36 names, but 29 of those were closed in October 2002 without any action being taken:

No current investigation relevant to these actions. Operation closing down decision of Strategy Group. All other investigation into this have complete. No identified lines of inquiry.[133]

DI Morley confirmed that there is no evidence to suggest that Operation Middleton investigated links between perpetrators or the placement of children in the care of Lambeth Council in North Wales children’s homes.[134]

62.3. LA-A311 was one of those children traced through CHILE. When aged 12, he was sent to a private care home in North Wales, for about four years between 1975 and 1980, where he alleged abuse by a member of staff. He said that the local police “didn’t want to know” at the time but, in 2000, his allegation made to Operation Middleton was referred to North Wales Police.[135]

63. When Carroll was dismissed from Lambeth Council’s employment, DI Morley confirmed he went to live in North Wales and purchased a “pub/hotel” there.[136] Ms Kenward told the Inquiry:

There was considerable doubt in my mind about John Carroll, who had, after he left Lambeth, bought a hotel in North Wales … I asked the question of the police, ‘How does that happen?’ You know, ‘How can a man, who has had that kind of career and comes from that kind of background, afford to buy a hotel?’ So I passed that information on, and I was concerned about it, and there was information about, you know, where did all the money go? There’s no proper audit trail in Lambeth, or there wasn’t, to show where money was paid to and who had access to it, and so on.”[137]

64. In February 1999, concerns were raised about links between LA-F31, LA-F32 and another foster carer whose name was found (with that of LA-F31) following a police search of Carroll’s home (on his arrest as part of Operation Care).[138]

Retention of records

65. As set out above, LA-F8 was investigated three times: first under Operation Bell in 1991, then Operation Middleton in 2003 and finally in 2013, when he was prosecuted. He was not charged during Operation Middleton as a result of Operation Bell papers being missing – the Crown Prosecution Service advised that no further action be taken and LA-F8 was released without charge.[139]

66. There is, as Mr McGill commented, the difficulty in retaining large volumes of paperwork. However, Crown Prosecution Service policies surrounding retention of non-recent sexual abuse case files have not changed, despite the availability of electronic storage methods.[140] Mr McGill recognised that the record retention policy would “benefit from review to ensure that it not only meets current business needs but also societal expectations”, and told us that a review has been requested.[141]

Operation Trinity, 2012–2015

67. Operation Trinity was set up in 2012 and was led by officers who had experience in child protection.[142] This included Detective Constable Suzanne Lister, who had worked on Operation Middleton and was familiar with the allegations against Paul.[143] While on secondment at Lambeth Council in 2012, she received notice of two further allegations of sexual abuse: LA-A1’s allegation concerned Paul, whose name she recognised, and LA-A71’s allegations were about LA-F8.[144] This resulted in Operation Trinity commencing.

68. Following Operation Trinity, Paul was convicted in 2015 of the sexual abuse of a further four children, and sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment.[145] Paul was convicted of aiding and abetting another man in his sexual abuse of LA-A19. On speaking to Operation Trinity, LA-A19 also made allegations of sexual abuse against Patrick Grant.[146]

69. In 2019, and after a lengthy investigation, Grant (who worked at Shirley Oaks and South Vale Assessment Centre) was convicted of a number of child sexual abuse offences in Sutton, South Wales and Lambeth.[147] Grant was convicted of one offence in 2019 of touching an 11 or 12-year-old’s genitals while masturbating in the presence of another named male in a bathroom of a care home.[148]

References

Back to top