Pursuing compensation for survivors of childhood abuse

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The cases noted below are at a variety of stages. Of those which are now complete, and where a settlement has been reached, compensation payments to clients have varied from between £40,000 and £1.75m.

Each survivor's circumstances are unique and every case we work on is handled on an individual basis because the experiences of abuse were different, and the personal outcomes and injuries vary greatly.

The cases included on this page are intended to provide an overview of the work we are doing and the positive outcomes we achieve for many of our clients. Not every case will be successful, but we have the skills, knowledge, and experience to make early assessment of each case and provide clear advice.

Our work with survivors of historical child abuse

We have a specialist team of lawyers dealing exclusively with these cases and now have extensive experience in this developing area of law. We have set out below some cases to give an overview of our work.

In the case studies below we have not noted specific settlement sums. The compensation amount for each case, no matter how similar its circumstances may seem to another, will have been assessed on its own unique facts.

Case Examples

Private Institutions, Charities and Individuals

Local Authority Claims

Religious Institutions

Football Cases

Case Studies

Private institutions and Individuals

Fettes College & Edinburgh Academy

We are pursuing cases for many clients relating to their time at Edinburgh Academy and Fettes College. Many of these cases have now successfully settled with others nearing successful conclusions. We continue to welcome new instructions and are happy to discuss any new cases anonymously. We can also provide details of support groups which have been set up if that is helpful to anyone.

Our clients were abused by many teachers at the schools, several of whom are now deceased including Hamish Dawson. Details of the abuse was discussed extensively during the course of hearings of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI).

There has been much press reporting around these cases and campaigning by survivors to ensure that one of the main perpetrators of abuse, Iain Wares, is brought to justice. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) is now in the process of having Iain Wares extradited from South Africa.

Like many other cases noted here, we claim that these institutions were vicarious liabilities for the actions of Iain Wares, Hamish Dawson, and all of the other abusers.

This group of cases shows that real benefit can be gained from survivors coming together to tell their stories. We fully realise that it is an extremely difficult thing to do, but strength can be passed between those similarly affected when they come together as a group.

In all cases, we ensure that our clients are fully supported, whilst anonymity is maintained. We expect that all cases against Fettes College & Edinburgh Academy involving this individual will be successful, and this is largely due to the shared support that individual survivors have been able to offer others.

The situation has been the subject of a Panorama investigation which can be viewed at BBC One - Panorama, My Teacher the Abuser: Fighting for Justice .

Boys Brigade

We are currently dealing with six cases against the Boys Brigade in Scotland. The cases are not related and involve various types of abuse by different perpetrators at different Boys Brigade Companies.

Robin Sharpe was convicted of offences at Aberdeen Sheriff Court. Colin Robertson was held to have committed offences following an examination of the facts. William Frew was convicted at Edinburgh High Court.

 

Waverley Paddle Steamer, Glasgow

We are acting for a number of clients who were abused by the vessel’s captain, David Neill, from 1982 to 1987. Neill was convicted of the abuse and ordered to serve seven years in prison. He died two months into that sentence.

Due to the conviction, we expect that the civil cases we are pursuing will be successful and our clients will obtain further justice through the civil courts.

 

Krishna Singh

In April 2022, Krishna Singh, a former GP at Blairgrove medical practice in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, was convicted of 54 charges of sexual abuse perpetrated against patients, and vulnerable girls and women, over a 35-year period. In May 2022, he was handed a 12-year prison sentence in the High Court in Glasgow. Singh was a former chairman of the British International Doctors’ Association and had been awarded an MBE in 2013.
 
Thompsons is pursuing civil claims for compensation on behalf of some of those who were abused. The claims were on hold (sisted) until the outcome of the criminal trial. This does not always happen but Singh made the request, via his solicitors, and the court accepted that this would be the best procedure.

 

Quarriers

We are dealing with a large number of cases against Quarriers, a Scottish social care charity, which involve wide-ranging facts and circumstances. One civil claim has now settled involving substantial damages with others likely to follow.

The best option for some of these cases will be through Redress compensation. We are confident of achieving compensation for all clients we represent who are survivors of Quarriers’ homes.

Read more about what occurred at Quarriers' facilities in the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) Case Study No 3.

 

Local Authority Claims

We are handling many cases against local authorities in relation to foster care placements. Some have reached a settlement, while others are at various stages from initial investigations through to following court timetables.

Glasgow City Council – Foster Carers

The most notable case to date is A v Glasgow City Council. This was a landmark Court of Session case which achieved a settlement award but, most interestingly from a legal perspective, it was the first historical abuse case to allow for past and future losses of earnings to be calculated on a specific basis rather than a ‘lump sum’ award. This case has set a direction which we expect many more cases to follow. The settlement which followed this hearing included a further award for interest on the damages.

Interest is attached to all personal injury awards if there is a loss which occurred in the past. For example, when an injury occurred in the past and earnings were lost as a result of these injuries. Interest does not attach to future losses because that loss is still to accrue.

The interest calculations in historical abuse cases are more complicated than for 'typical' personal injury claims because the figures to be used for interest vary over differing time periods and also for different awards, such as solatium (award for injury) and wage loss.

Find out more about A v Glasgow City Council in our Case Study.

Also, a Law Society of Scotland article: In the Victim's Shoes https://www.lawscot.org.uk/members/journal/issues/vol-66-issue-12/in-the-victims-shoes/

 

Aberdeen City Council – Foster Carers

We have ongoing cases against Aberdeen City Council relating to the physical and emotional abuse inflicted on individuals by two separate foster families – Mr & Mrs H in one family and Mr S in the other.

Mrs H physically and psychologically abused our clients for several years. This has resulted in extensive and lifelong psychological injuries. Mrs H has been charged but there has not yet been a trial so she has not, at this time, been convicted. This does not prevent us pursuing a civil claim and, based on the evidence that we have, we are confident our case will be successful and without need of a criminal conviction.

Similarly, Mr S physically and psychologically abused our clients for several years resulting in ongoing injuries. Mr S has also now been reported to the Procurator Fiscal and we expect our client’s claim for damages to achieve a favourable settlement.

The local authorities are responsible for the action of foster parents as they are considered employees. The abuse in these circumstances occurs during the course of that employment and therefore, if the perpetrators are still alive or there is a conviction for the abuse, these cases are often straightforward for suitably experienced and specialist lawyers to deal with.

We are also pursuing similar cases against various other local authorities.

 

Why are local authorities liable in historical abuse cases involving foster carers?

The Supreme Court issued a key judgement in the case of Armes v Nottinghamshire County Council ([2017] UKSC 60). Supreme Court Justice Lord Reed said the relationship between the local authority and its foster carers is such that it can be properly assumed the abuse was, “committed by the foster parents in the course of an activity carried out for the benefit of the local authority”. This decision has allowed cases such as those noted above to be pursued successfully.

 

East Renfrewshire Council – Eastwood High School

We have now pursued several cases for clients who were abused by a music teacher whilst they were pupils at Eastwood High in Newton Mearns, Glasgow.

The teacher, William Wright, has been convicted of various offences at Paisley Sheriff Court. Some of the cases against him have now been settled and others are ongoing.

In order to value each case, it was important that we understood the nature of the assault as well as the impact that the abuse had on each client’s life. For many of our clients, involvement in the criminal trials against the perpetrator of their abuse caused further injury. We consider that it is extremely unfair that survivors have to continue to suffer, through no fault of their own, to obtain both criminal and civil justice.

Our role is to support our clients through this process as best we can and ensure that any injury or loss caused by these ongoing experiences in included in their claim for damages.

The cases which have settled in this category have included awards for both injury and loss of earnings.

 

North Lanarkshire Council – Bellshill Children’s Home

We have a number of cases against Bellshill Children's Home. The home is now closed but it was run by North Lanarkshire Council (and predecessor authorities).

Ian Sharpe has been convicted of the abuse inflicted on children at the home and a number of former residents have instructed Thompsons to pursue civil claims for damages. These cases against North Lanarkshire Council are now ongoing in the Court of Session and we are confident they will be successful. Various investigations are ongoing to ensure that we achieve their full value.

 

Glasgow City Council – Park Lodge Children's Home

This home was run by Glasgow City Council and compensation is being obtained from the local authority although the home has long since closed.

Alistair Findlay had been convicted of offences at the home and we have now settled cases for substantial damages relating to this location and that particular perpetrator. Alistair Findlay was employed by the local authority and the abuse occurred during the course of his employment; Glasgow City Council are therefore vicariously liable for his actions.

 

Glasgow City Council – Kerelaw Secure Unit

The true extent of the atrocities committed at Kerelaw is still unfolding. Ongoing proceedings remain and many of our clients are still waiting for their opportunity to obtain criminal convictions as well as take civil action against those who abused them.

The Art Teacher, Matthew George, is now a convicted paedophile and was imprisoned for numerous offences in 2006 alongside care worker John Muldoon. Thomas Howe, a nightshift worker, was convicted in 2018 at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court and placed on the sex offenders register.

Many survivors of this abuse have already been compensated and we have a number of current cases which are ongoing. We expect this to be the situation for some considerable time to come as evidence continues to unfold about the extent to which these perpetrators were allowed to abuse children.

 

Religious Institutions

De La Salle Brothers

We are pursuing many cases against this religious order. Their most notable institutions were St Ninian’s (Gartmore), St Mary’s (Bishopbriggs) and St Joseph’s (Tranent). Our clients were subjected to wide-ranging forms of abuse.

Michael Murphy aka Brother Benedict, James McKinstry (civilian worker) and William/Bill Franks (chef) have all been convicted in the criminal courts.

Some cases have now reached a settlement, while others are ongoing. The level of settlement for these cases varies considerably because the types of abuse differ for each survivor and the impact of that abuse varies from one person to another.

 

Marist Brothers

The Marist Brothers operated two private, fee-paying schools in Scotland – St Columba’s College in Largs and St Joseph’s College in Dumfries. We have several active cases in relation to both institutions. Many of these cases are straightforward in terms of liability as there are convictions for the perpetrators, Norman Bulloch and Peter Toner. The cases may take time to reach conclusions because we want to ensure that we secure the best settlements for our clients.

The full extent of the atrocities which occurred at these schools is outlined by Lady Smith in Case Study no.7 of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

The abuse was severe and we are working closely with our clients to understand, as best we can, its impact and to allow comprehensive assessments of their individual cases.

Despite apologising at the SCAI for the abuse which took place, the cases continue to be defended by the Marist Brothers (i.e they are not admitting liability). We will do all we can to ensure that full compensation is secured which reflects the ongoing trauma that is being caused.

 

Sisters of Nazareth

The Sisters of Nazareth ran homes, all known as Nazareth House, in Aberdeen, Cardonald, Lasswade and Kilmarnock.

We have now settled a number of cases successfully against the Sisters of Nazareth with many others ongoing. The circumstances, perpetrators and locations vary. However, one of the most significant cases which we have settled involved abuse by the convicted volunteer helper, Joseph Duffy.

This is a report published by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) detailing the extent of the abuse which occurred at each of the Nazareth House residential homes and containing many of our clients’ statements. Review of this document will give the best indication of the type of cases we are pursuing against this organisation.

Our ongoing cases relate to claims for physical, sexual, psychological abuse, and neglect. The abuse took various forms including punishment for bedwetting, force-feeding and general physical abuse.

Police Scotland have brought charges against various Nuns from the Order and there have now been a number of criminal convictions.

 

Sailors Society

We continue to represent a number of survivors from a children’s home in Rhu (Helensburgh) which was run by the Sailors Society. The abuse suffered is outlined in detail in the cases of B v Sailors Society and C v Sailors Society.

These were the first cases in Scotland to ‘test’ the new legislation – the Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017. Unfortunately, the defender was successful in arguing that they would not be able to receive a fair trial because the perpetrators had died and the cases could not progress to a full proof.

The case decision is complex and set a path for further cases to follow. We would be pleased to discuss this case with anyone who has an interest in it as the consequences are far-reaching given the significance of the decision in the developing the legal landscape.

 

Archdiocese of Glasgow

The Archdiocese has now settled the cases that Thompsons was handling for survivors abused by Father Gerry Nugent, the disgraced priest whose notoriety is now in the public sphere.

The swift response from the Archdiocese in dealing with their cases was welcomed by our clients and in contrast to the situation met in so many other cases.

 

Congregation of Christian Brothers

We have now settled some cases against the Congregation, however many are still ongoing.

Our cases involve various perpetrators including Paul Kelly, Brother John Farrell and Father Gerry Ryan who ran St Ninian’s Residential Care Home in Falkland, Fife, where the abuse was perpetrated.

The home and congregation were the focus of the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry – Case Study No 4. The findings give insight into the scale of the abuse.

Lady’s Smith states in her overview:

"The institution was established in naivety, on the basis of facile assumptions and burdensome borrowings. Brothers and staff (and visitors) included paedophiles, violent men, and inadequate teachers. It was an undesirable outpost, remote from the Order’s centre of operations in Great Britain. Causes for concern were known about, noted in reports, but not acted upon. There was confusion over its own status. It was a place that immersed some children in a culture of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse, a place where—during its limited life (1951‑83)—the positives were achieved more by good luck than by good management. The latter was absent and was, instead, characterised by remarkable ineptitude.

Paul Kelly and John Farrell have been convicted of the abuse.

 

Daughters of Charity of St Vincent De Paul

This organisation ran Smyllum Park Orphanage in Lanark and Bellevue Children’s House in Rutherglen.

Smyllum Park has become well known following the public acknowledgement of the crimes perpetrated there. We are pursuing various cases relating to this home including against a wide number of staff members and nuns. The most notable from our cases are Sister Bernadette, Sister Marguaritte and Brian Dailley. Twelve people were charged following Police investigations into the historical abuse.

The actions of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent De Paul, particularly in relation to Smyllum Park and Bellevue Children's Home, were the subject of the first report from the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry.

 

Football Cases

Celtic

We currently represent around 25 clients who were abused whilst young players at either Celtic Plc or Celtic Boys Club.

There are two different ‘groups’ of cases. We have settled certain cases and also continue to pursue cases against Celtic Plc for clients who were abused by one of their employees, Jim McCafferty. McCafferty is a known, convicted paedophile who abused boys at various location and clubs throughout Scotland.

The second 'group' consists of a number of cases being contested by Celtic Plc. These have attracted significant media attention and involve clients who were abused by James/Jim Torbett or Francis/Frank Cairney whilst playing for Celtic Boys Club.

 

Other clubs

We have a large number of cases which involve Celtic; however, we have investigated, and continue to pursue, cases against various other Scottish and English Clubs.

Liverpool FC

Liverpool FC has taken a very proactive approach to settling claims involving their scout, Harry Dunn, who also had connections to a number of Scottish clubs. The Liverpool FC approach to our clients has been very supportive of the survivors. Unfortunately, Scottish clubs have not taken a similar approach and use various legal arguments to defend claims made against them.

 

Rangers

A Court of Session action was raised to reinstate Rangers ‘old co’ as a company to allow proceedings to be brought against them. The personal injury actions against the club remain ongoing.

There remains ongoing consideration of cases involving football clubs generally. If the abuse has been reported to the police, there will likely be a route to compensation available to survivors. Anyone affected should contact Thompsons for advice based on their specific circumstances.

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