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Switalskis IICSA summary week 2

INDEPENDENT INQUIRY INTO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE – CHILDREN IN THE CARE OF LAMBETH COUNCIL INVESTIGATION

Week 2

 

Brief overview of Witness Evidence 06-10 July

Day 6 – 06 July

The Inquiry heard from 3 survivors of abuse.

Day 7 – 07 July

Val Suebsaeng (nee Rogers) – Social Worker 1976-1984

A summary of Val Suebsaeng’s witness statement is below:

Val Suebsaeng was a social worker for Lambeth between 1976 and 1984. In 1984 she became a team manager until she left Lambeth Council in 1989.

Her witness statement discusses the culture of the Council and indicates that there was a lot of change throughout the period that she worked for Lambeth. Developments tended to be when new policy was brought into force.

Val Suebsaeng recalls how councillors became more closely involved in individual cases in the late 1980s and how this led to conflict between the councillors and the officers.

She discusses how in the 1980s a Permanency Policy was put in place to try and ensure children were returned to their own families or placed in adoptive families as efficiently as possible.

Val Suebsaeng discusses her knowledge of Michael John Carroll and how she came to be informed of his conviction. She states she was not aware of this conviction until 10 years after she had left Lambeth and he asked her for a reference. She describes how he minimised his conviction and described it as horseplay, as did senior members of the Council. She provided a reference.

She discusses the conversations that she subsequently had with senior members of the Council in relation to Michael John Carroll and the decision made, by senior members of the Council, to give Michael John Carroll a final warning which enabled him to remain at his post as officer in charge of Angell Road Children’s Home.

Val Suebsaeng voluntarily made contact with the police in 2014 and provided a statement regarding her knowledge of Michael John Carroll.

 

Clive Walsh – Probation officer and local authority social services senior manager; Assistant Director with Southwark Social Services (1978-1985)

A summary of Clive Walsh’s statement is below:

Clive Walsh discusses Clive Walsh worked for Southwark social services department and in around 1987 or thereabouts he received a request from Lambeth to approve Michael John Carroll and his wife as foster carers. His statement discusses how due to the schedule 1 offence he deemed it inappropriate for Mr Carroll and his wife to be approved as foster carers and rejected and denied his request. Within his witness statement he notes that the managers themselves and Lambeth were wholly supportive and approving of Carroll as existing members of their own staff.

He discusses how it was explained to him that Carroll’s wife was not aware of his conviction and he wanted to avoid the embarrassment of her finding out which is why he had not disclosed the conviction.

He notes that Lambeth did not volunteer that Mr Carroll was a schedule one offender was making the request for Southwark to approve him as a foster parent.

Within this statement he refers to a statement that he provided to the police dated the eighth in 2014. In preparing this review I have also reviewed the statement which, apart from that mentioned above, also refers to a meeting between Southwark social services and Lambeth social services in which a politician Janet Boateng also attended and put pressure on Clive Walsh and Southwark to reverse their decision to deny John Carroll as a foster carer.

He also notes that he had a couple of calls from somebody that referred to themselves as Paul Boateng, who would have been Janet Boateng’s husband, and who also worked in politics.

He said that those of the clear impression given was that Mr Carroll had friends in positions of influence and that included Janet Boateng.

He states that during this unusual meeting, which took place at 7:30 PM and was not minuted, it was clear that Lambeth were concerned that another local authority had deemed it inappropriate for Carroll to be a foster carer and the implications that this would have upon their decision to continue to employ him as an officer in charge of Angell Road. It is his view that there must be another reason, other than stupidity, from managerial failure to accept the responsibility and the opportunity to safeguard children in their residential care settings by removing John Carroll from post when his nondisclosure of a schedule 1 offence came to light.

 

Richard Clough – General Secretary to the Social Care Association (wrote the Clough report)

A summary of Richard Cough’s report is below:

Richard Clough was commissioned to prepare the Clough Report (1993). This statement covers his findings.

Richard Clough was approached in February 1993, as the General Secretary to the Social Care Association, by the London Borough of Lambeth to undertake an independent inquiry into the circumstances of the employment of Mr John Carroll by Lambeth Council and the subsequent application by Mr and Mrs Carroll to foster children in the care of Lambeth Council. He was nominated to undertake this inquiry by the Department of Health. The Terms of Reference (i.e. what the inquiry would look into) were set by Lambeth. The inquiry that he undertook did not relate to allegations of child sexual abuse.

He describes the process of preparing the report and how it was completed in May 1993.

His report discusses Carroll’s conviction and how it should have been disclosed to Lambeth Council when he applied to be the Deputy Office in charge of a Lambeth Council children’s home in 1978 and again when he applied for the post of Officer in Charge of the Children’s home in 1990.  Richard Clough also discusses an anonymous letter which was received by the Senior Care Home Officer of Lambeth Council in November 1994 alleging wrongdoing by Carroll. It was unclear to Richard Clough as to whether Senior Officials took any action about this despite a memo being sent to the Senior Assistant Director of Social Services.

Richard Clough then goes onto discuss the Carroll’s application to foster children (to Croydon in 1986) and how this led to knowledge of his convictions. Carroll was then disciplined in 1986 and received a final written warning. It is Richard Clough’s view that the Lambeth Social Services did not eliminate the risk to children when they had a justifiable opportunity to do so. He believes that the decision not to terminate Carroll’s employment was the root cause of later decisions and actions/ non-actions.

He further discusses Carroll’s further application to foster children in 1987 at a time when Lambeth were aware of his conviction and how Wandsworth were asked to carry out the assessment and allegations that pressure was put on Wandsworth to approve the assessment report as satisfactory, particularly by Jack Smith who was the Chair of the Foster Panel. Wandsworth rejected the application.

Senior Officers of Lambeth Council, including David Pope, then sought to formalise an ‘aunt and uncle’ relationship between the Carroll’s and the 2 boys that they had attempted to foster.

He then goes on to discuss matters leading to Carroll’s dismissal in the 1990’s. Matters which related to unauthorised purchases, falsified overtime claim and other matters.

Richard Clough acknowledges that the recommendations within the report that he prepared ought to have been clearer and that he should have emphasised the importance of ensuring that Warner report recommendations were adopted.

Richard Clough states that he did not become aware of any matters of child sexual abuse in Lambeth when preparing the report and if he had he would have halted the inquiry and brought these matters to the attention of the relevant authorities

He was not aware of Lambeth’s internal investigation into Carroll in 1994 until papers were provided to him as part of this Inquiry.

Lady Janet Boateng – Former Chair of Social Services Committee of Lambeth Council 1982-1986

A summary of Lady Janet Boateng’s statement is below:

Lady Janet Boateng initially worked a volunteer youth worker in Lambeth and Wandsworth in the early 1970’s and then went on to work as a residential social worker in 1977-1978 and as a Deputy House Mother in one of the homes run by London of Borough of Lambeth.

She became very active in the movement for civil rights and racial justice. She sought to address the problem of black underrepresentation at every level of government in the public services and society. She saw how racial injustice impacted upon the lives of young children and their parents.  BAME young people and their families were more likely to be living in poverty, unemployed underachieving or excluded from school and over represented in custodial or institutions. BAME communities lacked a voice and all too often when concerns were raised they were either not heard or not acted on. Lady Janet Boateng wanted to be part of movement to change this and as a consequence became a councillor in Lambeth in 1982.

During her employment she was concerned about the experience of children in residential settings the disproportionate number of BAME children in Children’s homes. The quality of care they received and difficulties in in finding suitable placements for fostering and adoption.  She therefore set up a rota of visits which gave all members of the Social Services Committee the opportunity to visit and familiarise themselves with the establishments.

She recalls a heated meeting involving herself, the Deputy Chair, Stephen Bubb and senior Lambeth Officials including the Director Robin Osmond. This was in relation to her request following a meeting of the Case Sub Committee where an allegation of sexual abuse of a child in the care of Lambeth came to light against an employee of Southwark Council in a secure home. She wanted to meet to discuss the welfare of one of their wards. She recalls the attitude of the Chair of Southwark was extremely defensive and unhelpful, she felt threatened and intimidated. She requested that the Chair pursue this matter and make sure this was dealt with properly. She believes that an employee at that home was convicted of sexual abuse.

She refers to the initial investigation being below an acceptable standard. She does not know if the initial investigation was tainted by corruption, but does confirm that it lacked insight and sensitivity to the parents’ concerns, this again shows that when members of the BAME community raised concerns they were not listened to or acted on.

In her view the second management meeting that the disciplinary proceedings were entirely justified and the fact that the outcome of the proceedings in not upholding the disciplinary complaint was unsatisfactory and a matter of grave concern.

She had seen the consequences of ignoring the significance of ethnic identity and culture on children in residential and institutional settings and in placements. The availability of appropriate food and hair care products and knowledge as how to give a child a sense of positivity with a regard to appearance  were overlooked in placements at the time and staff were often ignorant of these matters as well as being ill equipped to cope with a child’s needs. Others were in denial as to the significance of these matters. The placement of BAME children in rural settings with families from different ethnic backgrounds without support often left them ill-equipped to deal with racism and racial disadvantage.

After a national confrontation between Labour led Local Authorities and Conservative central government which became known as the Rate Capping Rebellion, she was part of the 32 members who declined to set a central government cap rates as this would mean cuts of £113 million from already stretched budgets including that of social services. She was therefore disqualified from office in 1986 and had no further involvement with Lambeth council.

Dame Heather Rabbatts (DBE) – Former Chief Executive of Lambeth Council 1995 – 2000 (witness statement awaited)

Day 8 – 08 July

David Pope – Director of Social Services (appointed 1988-1995).

Summary of the witness statement of David Pope:

David Pope began working at the London Borough of Lambeth in 1975 as Social Work Team Leader. He continued to work for Lambeth until in 1988 he was appointed as a Director of Social Services. He left Lambeth in 1995 after the Appleby Report was published. He agreed to accept voluntary redundancy. This was based on a projected overspend on the adult social care budget and the need for a change in leadership.

The statement discusses and the culture within the Council, which he describes as radical, in light of the political changes in the early 1980s and that it was highly stressful and continually difficulty situation attempting to change service and delivery. He discusses the long-standing and ongoing problems in providing services of high quality. This is despite the hard work of staff

and effort of staff involved. He describes how Lambeth was one of the most deprived boroughs and there were issues recruiting and re-training qualified and un-qualified staff. There were financial issues, budgetary constraints, media criticism and other issues which led to issues. He goes on to discuss the overview of management and how the committee structure worked. He discusses training recruitment and retention.

He states he was not aware of John Michael Carroll’s conviction for sexual abuse prior to Carroll’s disciplinary proceedings. He discusses how the fact that Carroll had failed to disclose his offence during his period of employment with Lambeth, while serious, was not the purpose of the investigation. The primary focus was to see whether his previous conviction had any bearing on the safety of children in their care. Ultimately it was concluded that the investigation and the information presented to the panel corroborated what Carroll had said. It was therefore decided that he would be given a final written warning.

He also discusses Angell Road and Carroll’s application to foster.

He then discusses schedule 1 offences generally and states that Lambeth did not have a specific policy in relation to the employment of schedule 1 offenders in 1992. Local authorities at the time would take offences into account and not use them as an automatic disqualifier.

He then goes on to discuss various reports which looked into abuse in Lambeth and particularly a report regarding South Vale (Zephyrine Report). He indicates that with hindsight it may have been that had the inquiry spoke to children then evidence in relation to Les Paul may have come to light sooner. He goes on to discuss the Barratt Report and the Appleby Report which ultimately led to him taking voluntary redundancy.

Clare Whelan – Councillor on Social Services Committee

Summary of the witness statement of Claire Whelan OBE:

Claire Whelan was a Councillor for Lambeth between May 1998 and 2014. She has held various other posts but during her time as a Councillor for Lambeth she was immediately appointed the Conservative Spokesperson for Social Services. When she was appointed she had major concerns about child sexual abuse and the running of the children’s homes. This followed the report from the manager of the Council’s children’s homes, Robert Morton, who prepared the Morton Report.

Following this repot she requested an immediate inquiry into the allegations made in this report. This did not happen. She continued to have an interest in the children’s homes in Lambeth and notes that it was her long-standing view that, given Lambeth’s records, they should not be running children’s homes at all.

She then discusses specific children’s homes such as South Vale and her concerns.

She discusses how she put a report together in relation to the Melting Pot, which was not a Lambeth run home although funded by Lambeth, and how she took all of her papers to be the Social Services Inspectorate in 1991 seeking an inquiry. In 1992 there were further allegations about sexual abuse in Lambeth homes and that this came to Councillors attention via the press rather than Council Officers which was inappropriate.

Later, in 1991 the Social Services Inspectorate carried out an inspection of child protection services at Lambeth as part of a rolling programme but they were not specifically looking at the management of Lambeth children’s homes or the abuse of the children at the hands of professional carers. That being said the report found major concerns of Lambeth social services and it noted that there was delay in investigation, conferencing and programming. She notes that the Inspectorate also criticised Lambeth’s policy of removing the requirement to have professional social work qualifications to achieve the recruitment of black staff. She notes how the Council’s process to improve discrimination policies had unintended negative consequences and ultimately the care and safety of children at risk should have been given top priority.

She goes on to discuss Stockwell Park children’s home and incidents that occurred at Monkton Street and Ivy House, Angell Road the various reports that were commissioned to look into the situation in Lambeth children’s homes.

She discusses the culture of Lambeth and describes in detail how it was dysfunctional.

It is notable that throughout this witness statement, Claire Whelan provides a number of exhibits to her statement which highlights that she was trying to push Lambeth to take the issues of child protection seriously. There are a number of communications between Claire Whelan and senior members of the Council and she discusses how she received a number of people coming to her as whistle-blowers. She notes on at least three occasions she handed over information to law enforcement investigations.

Overall Claire Whelan’s statement provides strong evidence that she tried to raise the issue of child sexual abuse and the protection of children in Lambeth throughout her time as a Lambeth Councillor.

Anna Tapsell – Employee of Lambeth Social Services (1978-1989); member of Lambeth Council (1990 – 1998)

Summary of Anna Tapsell’s 1st statement is below:

Anna Tapsell initially joined Lambeth as an Assistant Carer in 1978. She continued her employment with Lambeth as well as being actively involved with trade union and the Labour Party until 1989 when she retired on medical grounds. She was then persuaded to stand to be elected to the Lambeth Council in 1990 and she was successful. She sat on various committees and ultimately became the Chair of the Social Services Committee in around 1993.

She discusses how when she became a Councillor she became aware of Michael John Carroll’s schedule 1 offence in around 1982. She questioned David Pope, the Director of Lambeth Social Services, about this and indicates that he downplayed the incident as horseplay. She described how she was on the Appeal Committee to hear John Carroll’s appeal against his dismissal in 1991 for fraud offences and to her it seemed there was a pattern of behaviour that was not a good practice of childcare.

Anna Tapsell discusses how thereafter David Pope told her that she was to prepare a sensitive piece of work for the children of Angell Road. This was to see if the children had any problems as a result of being at Angell Road. She was also to approach the staff. Despite her chasing progress reports it appears this work was never completed.

She confirms she approached the Social Services Inspectorate and asked them to force Lambeth to undertake an independent inquiry to establish why Carroll had continued his employment in child care after Lambeth became aware of his conviction. She was unsuccessful with this as they felt it was not appropriate. She also approached the Metropolitan police.

As she was not getting anywhere she leaked the story to the press. After the report appeared in the newspaper the Minister of Health and Social Services ordered an inquiry.

She also discusses how she spoke to other people including Elizabeth Appleby (who prepared the Appleby Report) and told the Chief Executive of Lambeth Council about her concerns.

According to Anna Tapsell, David Pope made further disclosures to her in around 1993 about another girl who alleged that Carroll had sexually abused her. She told him the allegation needed to be thoroughly investigated.

Anna Tapsell then covers her knowledge of Carroll’s adoption application and notes how Lambeth were compromised because of the earlier decision which they had made (not to sack him) which declared Carroll a fit person to care for the most vulnerable children.

She discusses how a social worker was threatened with disciplinary proceedings when she refused to place any other children with Carroll.

She then goes on to discuss concerns that other people raised in relation to John Carroll.

Anna Tapsell then goes on to provide a further statement which provides further clarification as to the above and looking more closely at the committee system and the political atmosphere. She goes on to state ‘the bureaucratic gap between town hall based, high status officers and those responsible for the care of children in particular is unjustified and dangerous’.

She further discusses Janet Boateng and, what she describes as, ‘entirely inappropriate’ interference in individual cases and additional information regarding her knowledge of Michael John Carroll, various reports, the Paedophile Information Exchange and police investigations including into the production of child pornography.

She also touches on her knowledge of Steven Forrest against whom allegations of child sexual abuse have been made.

Day 9 – 09 July

Lord Herman Ouseley, Former Assistant Chief Executive, Lambeth Council

A summary of Lord Herman Ouseley’s statement is below:

Lord Herman Ouseley held a variety of posts over his career but notable to this Inquiry he was the Assistant Chief Executive of Lambeth between 1984 and 1986 (for 18 months) and the Chief Executive of Lambeth between 1990 and 1993.

Lord Herman Ouseley indicates that on both occasions he left Lambeth as he felt unable progress was not being made. He also notes political and management turmoil across the Council in the 1980’s. He is unable to provide much information regarding issues relation to child protection and child abuse as he had little involvement with the social services directorate. He indicates he had no knowledge of Michael John Carroll during 1984-86 and between 1990-93 matters relating to Carroll passed by him. He spent most of his later years of employment dealing with issues of corruption.

Lord Herman Ousely discusses the difficult financial situation Lambeth found itself in which had direct impact on directorates such as Social Services and how decisions were often driven by directorate interests and “protectionism”. He gives examples of this. He discusses his frustrations about the number of reports about cases and system failures and how recommendations for action were being led and implemented, or not and how there was a culture of initiating inquiries and investigations into serious complaints rather than prioritising the implementation of best management practices.

Finally, he outlines the harassment/ personal attacks that he faced such as threatening calls in the middle of the night, smashed windscreens and slashed tyres.

David Staples – United Grand Lodge of England (Freemasons)

David Staples is the Chief Executive Officer and Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England. He provides an overview of how the Freemasons operates on an international, national and local level.

He discusses Freemasonry in Lambeth and particularly how there is no record of Freemason meetings taking place at a place called “Town Hall” or “Lambeth Town Hall”.

The Inquiry provided a list of names to the Grand Lodge who are persons of interest to the Inquiry. David Staples describes how he was not able to identify any persons on this list as a Freemason. Further searches found that 1 person, who was employed by Lambeth, may be a Freemason and they resigned from his Lodge in 1988.

David Staples also discusses the outcome of the Harris and the Appleby Reports.

Dr Nigel Goldie – several senior roles in Lambeth Council (1990 – 1999), appointed Assistant Director of Corporate Strategy & Quality

Gillian Delahunty

Day 10 – 10 July

Dr Clive Driscoll – Former Detective Inspector with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Richard Gargini – Former Commander with the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

Crown Prosecution Service – Gregor McGill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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