How can Bolt Burdon Kemp help?
Our specialist solicitors in the abuse team at Bolt Burdon Kemp can help you make a claim if you have been abused in the Cadets. We understand that discussing the abuse you have suffered can be extremely distressing and we will work with you to ensure that any distress is limited as much as possible. We have a team of male and female solicitors and so the choice is yours as to whom you feel more comfortable working with throughout the lifetime of your claim.
Whilst we appreciate that no amount of compensation will ever be enough to compensate you for what has happened, our team will work tirelessly to ensure that you obtain the justice that you deserve. This will include obtaining admissions of responsibility where possible, securing interim payments of compensation to allow you earlier access to treatment and also access to specialist experts that will assist us in assessing how the abuse has affected you throughout your life.
Get in touch with our team of leading lawyers for a non-binding and completely confidential discussion to find out how we could help you. If we can help you and you decide to instruct us, then we will guide you through all aspects of the civil claims process so you feel fully supported. We act for most clients on a no win, no fee basis and we can also advise you about making a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.
Reporting abuse to the police
If you or your child has been abused, or you suspect an officer, instructor or anyone in a position of responsibility in the Cadets is abusing children, you should report this to the police immediately. Trained child protection police officers can visit you at home or in an alternative safe place of your choice.
To find out more about reporting or disclosing child abuse and the information that the police will want to know, please read our guide.
Making a claim
Against an individual abuser
If you were abused in the Cadets you may wish to consider a claim against the individual who committed the offences against you. We will investigate whether such a person has sufficient assets with which to pay you compensation before bringing a claim of this nature. Often, an individual may not have any assets, or may no longer be alive, but this does not mean you cannot bring a claim.
Against the Ministry of Defence
It is also possible to bring a claim against the Ministry of Defence, which is the organisation that is responsible for the various Cadet groups mentioned above. This is often the more preferable option compared to pursuing an individual because the Ministry of Defence will have an insurance policy through which to pay you compensation.
We can, and BBK have, successfully argued that the Ministry of Defence is responsible for the actions carried out by its staff whilst performing their roles within the organisation – also known as a legal principle called vicarious liability. We do this by obtaining evidence, such as witness statements, to prove that the abuser took advantage of their position of authority to carry out the abuse.
In addition to, or instead of, the principle of vicarious liability, there may be evidence that the Ministry of Defence was negligent in its duty of care to you and as a result you suffered abuse because of its failings. For example, if you disclosed to a member of staff that you were being abused, or it should have been known that you were being abused, and they failed to act to stop it, or if the abuser had previous convictions for sexual offences, this is clear evidence of negligence. It would mean that the abuser should never have come into contact with you and the abuse you suffered could have been prevented.
Are there any time limits for bringing a claim?
Strictly speaking, you must bring a claim within three years of being abused, or if it occurred when you were a child, you have until your 21st birthday to bring a claim for compensation. However, the courts appreciate and recognise in abuse cases that this is often not possible and as a result our clients are often out of time to bring their claim. There are many reasons as to why it might not be possible to bring a claim before your 21st birthday, for example, due to mental health conditions or feeling ashamed or embarrassed at what has happened to you. This is completely normal and completely understandable, given what you have suffered.
The court has discretion to extend the time limit to start your claim, and also to allow claims to be brought outside this time limit, even if many years have since passed. We will work with you to illustrate to the court why your claim should be allowed to proceed out of time and why you should be awarded compensation for what has happened to you.
At Bolt Burdon Kemp we are proud to have represented clients whose claims have succeeded despite being decades out of time, and we have achieved justice for them as a result.
Success stories for cadet abuse claims
- We acted for four clients who were abused as children when they were members of Tennal Grange Army Cadets in Harborne, Birmingham, by a number of instructors. Upon investigation it became clear that sexual abuse had been perpetrated by a number of people in positions of responsibility connected with the Cadet group for a number of years. Sadly it also became apparent that the abuse was known to be occurring in an environment in which the Cadets were led to believe was normal. In September 2007 one of the instructors, Peter Cooper, was convicted of buggery and indecent assault in relation to one of our clients. At the time of the police investigation he was a serving police officer in the area of child protection at West Midlands Police. Despite the fact that all four clients were many years out of time to bring their claims, one of the abusers had died in 1997 and three of our clients had not secured convictions against their abusers, the Ministry of Defence admitted responsibility in all four cases and paid a total sum of £900,000 in addition to issuing formal apologies to our clients.
- We successfully represented three clients TCN, NSE and TRA in their claims against the Ministry of Defence for sexual, physical and emotional abuse that they suffered in the Army Cadets at the hands of Sergeant Major Edward Dale. Despite the Ministry of Defence arguing that these clients were all decades out of time and requiring them to prove the abuse occurred because Dale was not criminally convicted, five figure settlements were agreed for each client.
- We acted for two children in their claims arising from sexual assaults that they suffered at the hands of two Corporals at Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Rutland Army Cadet Force during a week-long camp. The Ministry of Defence admitted that it was responsible for the abuse and paid our clients £23,500 and £26,500 respectively allowing them access to the private medical treatment that they required in addition to private tuition to allow them to catch up with their education that had suffered as a result of the abuse.
- We represented a client who was subjected to serious abuse over a number of years by her Army Cadet instructor from the age of 14 years old. As a result of the abuse our client suffered chronic post traumatic stress disorder and depressive symptoms. Her education was significantly disrupted because the abuse took place during vital years of her educational development. Our client’s ambition was to join the Army and be an officer in the Royal Military Police which became impossible because of the abuse. The Ministry of Defence admitted responsibility at an early stage and settled the claim in the sum of £210,000.