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Thursday, 30 August 2018

Around 2,000 child migrants sent abroad to sue Government over sexual abuse

Written by Sam Blewett
Survivors who were abused as children after being sent abroad under state-backed programmes are suing the Government for compensation.

Thousands of Britons, many in care or from poor families, were sent abroad to countries including Australia and New Zealand in the post-Second World War years partly to save on care costs.

They risked being exposed to sexual violence and the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) recommended six months ago that some 2,000 should be paid compensation.

But lawyer Alan Collins said on Wednesday he has lodged a lawsuit in London's High Court to pressure ministers into paying.

"The Government has not done anything as far as we can tell about implementing the recommendations to set up some type of redress scheme," he said.

"So we've told the Government, unless you're going to do it you're going to end up being sued. They took no notice so we've sued them.

"The victims, they want the Government to do what IICSA said and accept that it's a flawed policy and take responsibly and not just say fuzzy, warm words but actually mean it."

Mr Collins said the lawsuit was filed on August 22 on behalf of two survivors, one sent to what is now Zimbabwe, the other to Australia, who have strong cases backed by hard evidence.

He said he has been contacted by more than 100 survivors and hopes the action will pressure the Government into paying compensation to the rest in a "domino effect".

The inquiry found that UK governments played a "central role" in the policy, which ended in the 1970s.

The March report said it was "essential" that all living former migrants, then around 2,000 people, should be paid compensation. In 2010 then-prime minister Gordon Brown formerly apologised on behalf of the UK government.

On Wednesday, a Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We want to reassure those affected we are committed to providing a timely response to the inquiry's recommendations."

Time is of the essence, Mr Collins said, with many of the survivors now in old age.

"The problem is, they are such an elderly group that they are dying.

"We can't just sit around forever and a day and hope for the best," he said.

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