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THE LEADER of Essex County Council has issued a public appeal for evidence of a possible child abuse “cover-up” in the 1980s and 90s.
David Finch said the authority and Essex Police were keen to investigate recent allegations about a “paedophile ring” operating at County Hall.
Cllr Finch urged witnesses to come forward after a former NHS manager made a speech at the Houses of Parliament last week, where he made allegations of a child abuse “cover-up”.
The claims were made by Robin Jamieson, who was district psychologist – managing 20 staff – for Southend in the early 1990s and sat on the Child Protection Committee.
Mr Jamieson made a speech at a “whistleblowers event” at Westminster last Tuesday in front of MPs, barristers and campaigners.
He claimed that in the 1990s he was approached discretely by junior staff with alarming allegations, suggesting serious failures in child protection.
He said he reported the concerns to the council but found the response “insulting and threatening”.
He claimed he informed the police but had no knowledge of any subsequent investigation.
In a statement issued after Mr Jamieson’s speech, Cllr Finch said: “We are aware that there have been some historical child abuse concerns in relation to individual members of staff employed by Essex County Council in the 1980s and early 1990s.
“We know that these concerns were investigated at that time by the council and Essex Police and appropriate actions were taken in accordance with the evidence available at the time.
“There was no evidence of an organised cover-up, nor indeed was there sufficient evidence at the time for further investigations to take place.
“However, these are clearly very serious allegations. If Mr Jamieson, or anyone else, has evidence of a ’cover-up’ or of agencies failing to properly investigate such concerns, we would very much welcome the information and would fully investigate such concerns together with Essex Police.”
Mr Jamieson spoke out after reading a series of exclusive Yellow Advertiser reports about compensation payments for alleged abuse.
The YA revealed in January that County Hall paid almost £100,000 compensation in 2014 for alleged abuse, including £90,000 for two cases in 1993 in the Vulnerable Children and Young People department.
However, civil servants refused to answer any questions about the payments. They claimed releasing even basic details – such as answering ’yes’ or ’no’ to whether anybody was convicted in each case – could identify the alleged victims.
In subsequent Freedom of Information responses, County Hall reclassified the alleged abuse pay-outs as personal injury claims, making them indistinguishable from pay-outs for minor accidents like cut fingers.
l If you have knowledge of abuse or a ’cover-up’ at County Hall, Essex Police can be reached by dialling 101, the NSPCC child abuse hotline is at 0808 800 5000 and County Hall is at 01245 430430.