Saturday, 26 May 2007

Fight for abuse 'justice' goes on

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A SUNDERLAND man who has fought a tireless campaign to expose alleged abuse in Sunderland children's homes has won £25,000 in compensation, it was revealed today.
And Brian Clare, 33, of Grindon, has vowed to continue his 18-year battle to secure "justice" for youngsters who claim they were physically and sexually abused at the city's now-demolished Witherwack House and other care homes.A 60-strong group of former children in care of Sunderland City Council in 1960s, 70s, and 80s launched civil damages claims for the physical, sexual and emotional abuse they say ruined their lives.Fifteen lead cases were due to be heard at Newcastle County Court this week, but, as the Echo exclusively revealed, the city council agreed to out-of-court settlements.The biggest pay-out to an individual abuse victim was £50,000 and the total paid to all 15 is around £200,000. The council has not admitted any liability.Another 45 cases are still waiting in the wings, but leading law firm, Stewarts, who specialise in personal injury law, now hope an across the board settlement will be reached.Mr Clare, one of the 15 victims who settled their cases, today vowed to carry on fighting for abused children across the country.Mr Clare said he was subjected to a catalogue of abuse in Witherwack House from 1979 to 1984 and added the settlement had left him disappointed that the full truth was not allowed to come out in a full trial.He said the cash meant "nothing" to him , and vowed to continue his battle for justice by helping others who have been abused to bring their cases to court .He said: "There is no such thing as justice for children
who have been abused but I feel I have to carry on fighting for what I believe in."Mr Clare, who suffers from epilepsy and is unable to work, said: "All the money I have received is going to be spent on counselling for me after what I witnessed while I was in care of Sunderland City Council ."I still suffer from nightmares - this case became my whole life and it still is. I never had a life as a normal child, and it's difficult for me to have a life as an adult ."I would have liked to have had my day in court, but I have to acknowledge the debt I owe my family for giving me the strength to come this far."Other cases being dealt with by Stewarts concern a total of 23 care homes across the North East.Solicitor, Paul Middleton-Roy, said that, until the settlement, the city council had disputed all the claims - despite a damning NSPCC report into the events at Witherwack House.
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