Campaign to Forfeit Peter Sherwin’s MBE | Cadet Abuse | Bolt Burdon Kemp Campaign to Forfeit Peter Sherwin’s MBE | Cadet Abuse | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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The Forfeiture Committee’s statement about Peter Sherwin’s MBE

We have represented 40 clients in relation to serious childhood sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of Peter Sherwin.

For a number of decades Peter Sherwin was the Commanding Officer at the TS Stirling Sea Cadets in Birmingham and was awarded an MBE for his work in 1987.  All of the allegations made by our clients relate to him using his position of authority to abuse young cadets in his command and care during this time.

He was investigated by the police in 2013 after one individual reported his offending to the police, however no further action was taken.

Sherwin died in 2014 having never been convicted of his crimes.

Supporting our clients in their journey

Since his death, dozens of survivors have come forward and reported their own experiences of the serious sexual and physical abuse that they suffered at the hands of Sherwin.  The abuse inflicted by him against our clients was extremely serious, sadistic and occurred over a prolonged period of time.

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.

BBK 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 had not been posthumously stripped of his MBE.  One of our clients raised the fact that Sherwin still had his 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.

We agreed.

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 believed 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 had 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 were he still alive.

This process would be one meaningful way of achieving acknowledgement of Sherwin’s crimes and the abuse he inflicted for our clients. We therefore raised this 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.

Response from the Forfeiture Committee

On 29 March 2023, BBK sent a letter to the Forfeiture Committee. On receipt of the letter further evidence was requested by the Committee, which we then provided. The Forfeiture Committee considered the matter in a meeting in October 2023.

In February 2024, the Committee published a statement stating that Peter Sherwin would have been subject to forfeiture proceedings if he had been convicted in his lifetime.

We are glad that the Forfeiture Committee has considered the evidence provided and come to this conclusion. This outcome acknowledges the harm that Sherwin inflicted upon our clients as children and recognises that he was undeserving of his MBE.

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