A man who was sexually abused from the age of 13 has received an apology from the government's victim compensation agency, which had claimed he had consented to the abuse (Richard Ford writes).
The man, known as HND, has also been told he is eligible for compensation, according to the charity Liberty, which represented him.
Twenty-one men were convicted of a range of offences against him, including sexual activity with a child, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and meeting a child after sexual grooming. Liberty said that when his family applied to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority on his behalf, the application was rejected and it was ruled that he had consented to the sexual assaults.
Carole Oatway, chief executive of the authority, has written to HND apologising for the way his case was handled and confirming that he is eligible for compensation. “I am firmly of the view that you are eligible for compensation,” she wrote, continuing: “It is clear that advantage was taken of your age and vulnerability for the purpose of sexual abuse.”
HND had appealed against the previous decision, and the case was due to be heard by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal this month. However, the application for compensation was granted after further submissions from Liberty.
Debaleena Dasgupta, a Liberty lawyer and HND's solicitor, said that while the U-turn was welcome, “it was only at the 11th hour they conceded these appeals, with HND facing the prospect of having to give evidence about his abuse to prove he was a victim even where those responsible had pleaded guilty.
“HND should be extremely proud of having triggered changes that will hopefully stop other children and young people going through this. None of this would have been possible without his tenacity and strength.
“The government cannot stop here. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme as a whole must now be reviewed and amended to properly support survivors of rape and abuse.”
David Lidington, the justice secretary, told MPs that the authority’s internal guidelines were being urgently re-examined to ensure there was no risk that a child could be disqualified because they had been “groomed” into giving consent.