Astonishing Admission About Records as MoD Respond Over Abuse Claims

NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE

The Ministry of Defence has responded to a series from the questions from the Celtic League about the payment of millions of pounds to settle abuse cases involving the military cadet forces (see link):

https://www.celticleague.net/news/defence-sec-asked-why-mod-paid-hush-money-in-abuse-cases/

At the time the payments totalling over £2 million were made the Celtic League also wrote to the Home Office asking why potential criminal offences had been covered up. We also alerted the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to the issue (see links):

https://www.celticleague.net/news/home-office-respond-on-cadet-abuse-hush-money/

https://www.celticleague.net/news/league-notify-uncrc-about-mod-cadet-sex-abuse-payment/

The report on the abuse said some of the settlements were made to adults for abuse that taken place when they were children (aged 12-18); however, some other payments were related to more recent claims.

Among the cases were the rape of a female cadet who became pregnant and gave birth to a child. The abuse began when she was 14 years old, and she subsequently suffered from a number of psychological problems. The MoD admitted liability and settled the claim for 210,000 pounds.

Other cases involved two instructors, who sexually abused cadets severely at an army hut, a rifle range and at camps. Lawyers for the victims reported that the abuse was openly known within what they called “a permissive atmosphere” and appeared accepted as normal. One of the abusive instructors was serving as a police officer when he was arrested and was convicted of buggery and indecent assault in 2007 in relation to one of the claimants.

While the Celtic League welcome the MOD response which is set out (in full) below we are disappointed that they have not specifically addressed our query about the period of time that this practice of settling abuse cases ‘quietly’ has been going on.

However the most alarming admission in the letter is that the Ministry does not maintain records on their ‘various claims management databases’ that enable them ‘to identify the geographical areas in which the alleged abuses occurred’.

One would have hoped that an organization charged with a duty of care towards young people would be have records that recorded in meticulous detail any abuse cases.

“Your letter of 28 January 2015, addressed to the Secretary of State, has been passed to me for reply as the policy lead area for the MOD’s cadet forces. I am sorry it has taken so long to reply.

When compensation claims are received they are considered on the basis of whether or not the Ministry of Defence has a legal liability to pay compensation. Where there is a proven legal liability, compensation is paid.

In the cases to which you refer, once the claims had been investigated and legal liability had been established, they were settled. In all these cases, the claimants’ interests were represented by solicitors acting on their behalf. There is certainly no question of ‘hush money’ being paid to silence abuse allegations. Indeed, if negotiated settlements had not been achieved, the claims for compensation would likely have proceeded to a hearing in an open court where the victim would have to relive his or her experience.

In the majority of cases, compensation claims have followed a successful conviction of the perpetrator of the abuse. However, in some cases where an alleged incident took place many years ago, it may not have been dealt with by the police. So, where a former cadet can prove ‘on the balance of probability’ (rather than ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ required by the criminal justice system) that abuse occurred, MOD will propose settlement of the claim.

Records are not maintained on our various claims management databases’ that enable us to identify the geographical areas in which the alleged abuses occurred.

Turning now to the Independent Panel inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, its terms of reference are:

“To consider the extent to which State and non-State institutions have failed in their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation; to consider the extent which those failings have since been addressed; to identify further action needed to address any failings identified; and to publish a report with recommendations.”

The scope of the Inquiry includes State and non-State institutions which will include, for example, Government departments and the Armed Services.

Finally, let me emphasise that the MOD takes its duty of care seriously and does not tolerate bullying or harassment. Any adult volunteer who is found to fall short of the high standards expected is dealt with administratively (up to and including discharge). If it is suspected that a criminal offence has being committed, the civilian police are called in to investigate.

Each of the MOD sponsored cadet forces employs a full time Safeguarding Officer and has a safeguarding policy which includes the requirement for all adult instructors to receive initial and continuation training in safeguarding matters.
On appointment, adult volunteers are subject to enhanced disclosure and barring list checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service. All adult volunteers are made fully aware of their responsibility to protect children from the differing forms of harassment, physical and mental intimidation and discrimination, and any suspicion of bullying must be dealt with immediately. This is reinforced throughout all training.

I trust this response answers your queries.

Duncan Haigh
Assistant Head
Youth and Cadets”

The Celtic League will probably submit concerns to the Independent Panel inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (the Goddard Inquiry).

The issue will be considered at the AGM in Dublin next week.

J B Moffatt (Mr)

Director of Information
Celtic League

03/04/15

(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)

ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE.

The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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