18th October 2019

The Chair of IICSA has made a provisional decision that IICSA will no longer investigate the scandalous and significant level of child sexual abuse at the Detention Centre over more than two decades.

On behalf of our clients we are disappointed with the Inquiry Chair’s Provisional Decision and have written to make extensive representations that a different decision should be made.

Child sexual abuse at Medomsley was occurring alongside sexual abuse of young men (aged 18-21) and serious physical abuse of detainees of all ages (17-21). We have argued that the Inquiry must investigate all of the abuse. This is both for the sake of fairness to all victims and in order to properly understand how child sexual abuse could have taken place.

We wrote to both the Chair to IICSA and the then Home Secretary in April 2019 and argued that this required either a change of terms of reference to IICSA (who can look at child sexual abuse only) or a decision by the Home Secretary to hold a full public inquiry into Medomsley.

We are disappointed that the then Home Secretary failed over a period of 6 months to even properly acknowledge our letter, let alone respond to it. We disagree with the IICSA provisional decision to end their Inquiry without first making representations to the Home Secretary that a full public inquiry must take place or in some other way to find a solution to the problem. This will result in an even worse situation in which no inquiry is planned into the worst scandal of abuse in prison in the country’s history.

We also disagree with the provisional decision of IICSA that an inquiry into Medomsley would be unlikely to add substantially to the Inquiry’s evidence base. There are a considerable number of victims who are willing to give evidence of their experiences which include not only their treatment but also the failure of other public bodies to protect them or to investigate and prosecute offenders for a very long period of time. There are very serious and credible allegations that the prison service and others could have prevented some of the worst offences that occurred. The Inquiry has not as yet looked at such detail into historical custodial sexual abuse and what happened at Medomsley can provide lessons for the future to help prevent such abuse.

We call on IICSA and the Home Secretary to communicate with the victims and other stakeholders and work to provide a full inquiry that can do justice to more than 1000 victims and help our society avoid such scandals in future.

The Chronicle who support our call for a public inquiry to be held into events at Medomsley have reported on the IICSA provisional decision.

Blog by Andrew Freckleton, Partner