The sex abuse scandal that has rocked Britain’s cadet forces could be on the same scale as the investigations into Jimmy Savile and the Catholic Church, according to the lawyers representing victims.
Earlier this month, the BBC’s Panorama revealed that almost 100 cadet force instructors have been dismissed in the past five years after allegations of sex abuse. The probe also found that leaders had repeatedly tried to cover up past accusations.
The lawyers representing those affected say the scandal will continue to grow as more victims come forward.
Panorama discovered that parents of cadets who had been abused were encouraged not to go to the police as cadet organisations tried to cover up the accusations.
According to Freedom of Information requests, in the last five years 363 sexual abuse allegations – both historical and current – have been made across the UK for the Army, Air and Sea Cadets.
Some 282 cases have been referred to the police and 99 volunteers have been dismissed.
Overseen by the Ministry of Defence, the cadets is one of the UK’s largest youth bodies with 130,000 members.
The MoD has paid more than £2m to cadet abuse victims, and says it has “robust procedures in place to protect cadets”.
Panorama’s seven-month investigation focused chiefly on cadet leaders in Glasgow, Birmingham and Hertfordshire.
One victim identified only as Martin said he was 12 when he was “systematically abused and raped repeatedly over many years” by his commanding officer Brian Leonard, who died in 1996 having never faced justice, at Tennal Grange cadet base in Birmingham.
He told the programme: “You are trained to follow orders and you are trained to respect the officers and do as they tell you.
“That includes having to lie on the floor on a dirty blanket and just lie there and… take it like a man.”
The MoD told Panorama that today all adults who work with children undergo mandatory security and background checks, rigorous disclosure procedures and regular safeguard training.
A spokesman said: “We encourage anyone who has been a victim or knows someone who has to report it to the police.”
How can our Personal Injury Lawyers help?
Gotelee Solicitors have a specialist team of Suffolk lawyers who can provide sensitive care and expert guidance to people who may wish to bring civil claims for compensation as a result of sexual abuse in their past.
The Suffolk law firm, which has offices in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Melton, Hadleigh and Woodbridge, is partnered with Ipswich charity Survivors in Transition (SiT) to help navigate victims through the process. SiT aims to empower survivors to take control of their lives and cope better with the daily effects the abuse has left them with.
Gotelee are members of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, which help to bring together a team of experts, including doctors, counsellors, psychiatrists and specialist barristers.
To find out how we can help you, contact us on 01473 298125.