Children’s home bosses lived in an ivory tower says historical sex abuse victim campaigner

Bosses of a children’s home at the centre of a child sex scandal were living in an ivory tower, a campaigner has claimed.

A man who has worked tirelessly to expose the historic sexual abuse of hundreds of children in care in Nottinghamshire says there is so much more to come as the true extent of the scandal is revealed.

David Hollas.

David Hollas.

David Hollas, an advocate for the Nottinghamshire Child Sexual Abuse Survivors Group was speaking after the second week of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) ended in Nottingham on Tuesday.

Over the six days in Nottingham the inquiry heard harrowing evidence from people who told how they were abused at Beechwood Children’s Home in Mapperley; abuse in foster care and from people abused by other children whilst in care.

On the sixth day former senior county council officers gave their version of events.

Two men who were in senior positions at the Beechwood home in Mapperley for a combined total of nearly three decades told the inquiry that they never saw any physical or sexual abuse during their time there.

Jim Fenwick was principal from 1981 to 1991, with overall responsibility for the home in Woodborough Road. And Ken Rigby was deputy superintendent from 1975 to 1993.

But both men told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) that they had not seen any abuse - and would have done something about it if they had.

Yet the inquiry heard 136 people had alleged they were sexually abused while children at Beechwood - including 35 who said they were abused during the 1980s, broadly the period that Mr Fenwick was in charge.

David Hollas paid tribute to the dignity of the survivors during the inquiry, both those that gave such powerful testimony and those that sat in the public galleries and the two public annexes.

He said: “They at last were able to tell their stories, not just of the abuse but of the culture in children’s homes and the effects of that on their lives.

“It speaks for itself and requires no additional comment or interpretation.

“The second week continued in Nottingham and we heard from Social Services Department senior officers and specifically the two leaders of the Beechwood complex who ran the place for such a significant time and under whose watch many of the allegations were said to have occurred.

“Everything was rosy in their garden, neither could recall having to discipline staff for sexual or physical excess.

He added: “There was a clear gulf between the ivory tower and the field force.”

The inquiry heard from Bronwen Cooper, an investigative officer who conducted a report into Beechwood in the early 2000s.

Mr Hollas said: “She was shocked at what she found, a highly sexualised environment delivered by the staff, the state of the buildings dilapidated and decaying, an environment not safe for children.”

At the inquiry she said her initial recommendation had been to close the centre which she later changed after consultation with her bosses

“Mr Hollas added: “So much more to come as the inquiry shines its forensic light in the darkness of child abuse in Nottinghamshire’s children’s homes and we move onto the abuse committed by Foster parents.

Whilst the inquiry sat, Christopher Metcalfe formerly of Skegby Hall and David Gallop, who worked at of Hazelwood children’s home both were sentenced for their crimes of abuse against children whilst they worked as residential social workers. Their names added to Andris Logins, Barrie Pick, Dean Gathercole and Myriam Bamkin who have all recently been found guilty as a result of the current police operation Equinox looking into the allegations of non-recent child abuse.”

The inquiry continues in London later this month.