We have represented over 30 clients in relation to serious childhood sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Peter Sherwin.
Peter Sherwin was the Commanding Officer at the TS Stirling Sea Cadets and our clients’ allegations all relate to him using his position of authority to abuse young cadets in his command and care during this time.
Sherwin was investigated by the police in 2013 after one individual reported his offending to the police, however no further action was taken due to a lack of evidence.
Sherwin died in 2014.
Supporting our clients in their healing journey
Since his death, many survivors have come forward and reported their own experiences of the abuse they suffered at the hands of Sherwin. The abuse inflicted by Sherwin against our clients was serious, sadistic and occurred over a prolonged period of time.
Sherwin was awarded an MBE in 1987. Sherwin died on 15 June 2014, with his reputation intact. Sherwin died before ever being held to account for his abusive behaviour.
Our clients’ lives have been devastated as a result of the abuse that Sherwin inflicted upon them. They cannot get justice in the criminal courts as Sherwin is dead. One of the invisible methods of control that abusers – particularly abusers in positions of authority – exert, is to make survivors think that they won’t be believed if they speak out. All sorts of inequalities in standing are relevant here – children versus adults; figures of authority / in positions of prominence versus a lay person; those who have been bestowed honours by the Royal Family and Government, versus those unadorned.
We exist to change people’s lives, and the law, for the better. Being believed is a hugely fundamental part of our clients’ journeys to eventual healing. We want to support them with all aspects of their journey, as far as we can.
Despite the number of allegations made against Sherwin, and the Cadets’ acknowledgment of the extent of Sherwin’s abuse, Sherwin has never been posthumously stripped of his MBE. One of our clients in particular raised Sherwin’s MBE with us, because he felt troubled that Sherwin had lived his life with this honour bestowed upon him, when the truth was, he was undeserving of it.
Petitioning the Honours Committee to make a statement about MBE forfeiture
In the wake of the posthumous allegations against Jimmy Savile and Cyril Smith, the Government updated its guidance on forfeiture in 2021. The new policy permits for the Forfeiture Committee to publish a formal statement in cases where forfeiture proceedings would have commenced had the deceased recipient of the honour been convicted of offences. In the case of Savile and Smith, the police confirmed that there would have been a realistic prospect of being convicted had they still been alive to face criminal proceedings.
In accordance with the Government’s new guidance, the Committee can consider specific cases that meet the following criteria:
- The allegations of criminal behaviour are raised within 10 years of death
- The allegations are reported to the police
- The police have deemed the allegations sufficiently serious to warrant obtaining a full witness statement.
When these criteria are met – which we believe to be the case regarding Sherwin, the Committee can issue a statement confirming action would have been taken by them in the event that individual had been convicted prior to their death. In light of the number of individuals who have come forward and disclosed abuse at the hands of Sherwin, it is hard to see how Sherwin would not have been convicted and stripped of his MBE whilst still alive.
This process would be one meaningful, way of achieving acknowledgement of Sherwin’s crimes and the abuse he inflicted upon our clients as children. We are therefore raising the matter with the Honours Forfeiture Committee.
Jessica Standley, Associate in our Abuse team speaks on the BBK Free Speech Podcast about the campaign and why stripping Peter Sherwin of his MBE is so integral to her clients who were abused by him. To listen to the podcast, please click here.
An update on the campaign so far
The letter was sent to the Forfeiture Committee on 29 March 2023. On receipt of the letter further evidence was requested which has been provided and we have been advised that the Forfeiture Committee will be considering the matter at their next meeting in October 2023.
In the meantime, a number of our clients have also written to their MP’s who have expressed support for the campaign.
It is hoped that a statement will be made following the meeting in October to say that forfeiture proceedings would have been commenced against Sherwin had he been convicted of offences prior to his death.
We will update you further once we have received a response.
If you stand with us and our clients, please share this campaign to raise awareness about it and declare your support.