I was very pleased to recently help two very deserving clients settle claims against the Scout Association arising out of the abuse they experienced at the hands of scoutmasters during childhood.
The cases were very different but demonstrate how lawyers at Bolt Burdon Kemp tirelessly pursue claims for our clients and look to progress cases as expeditiously as possible in order to obtain the best possible results.
Bolt Burdon Kemp has been at the forefront of highlighting the scale of sexual abuse within the Scout movement and obtaining justice and compensation for those who have experienced abuse in the Scouts.
Details of both of these cases and our other success stories can be found on our dedicated success story page.
In 2015 Bolt Burdon Kemp were approached by Alan in relation to sexual, physical and emotional abuse which he experienced at the hands of scoutmaster Kevin Bretherton between 1985 And 1987 whilst he was a member of 1st Amington Scouts in Tamworth, Staffordshire. The abuse by Bretherton consisted of a long period of grooming and numerous indecent assaults whilst Alan was aged 11 to 13.
Alan initially reported the abuse by Bretherton to police in 1987 after another member of the scout group revealed that he had also been sexually abused by Bretherton. The police carried out investigations and charged Bretherton with numerous offences against a number of members of the scout group. Criminal proceedings followed and in 1988 Bretherton pleaded guilty to all of the charges against him including one count of indecently assaulting Alan.
When BBK began to investigate Alan’s case we immediately identified the importance of obtaining evidence of Bretherton’s convictions in order to prove that Bretherton had committed the abuse we were alleging. Unfortunately due to the passage of time, the statements which Alan gave to police in 1987 had been destroyed. Likewise it proved difficult to obtain details of the criminal proceedings from the court as Alan was not required to attend court in 1988 and was unaware where the hearings took place.
BBK put pressure on the Scout Association to disclose information which they held in relation to Bretherton and his history of offending. Through great persistence, BBK eventually secured relevant documents from the Scout Association and this enabled us to carry out further investigations and locate proof of Bretherton’s convictions. Along the way, BBK also managed to obtain documentation from Staffordshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service which further strengthened Alan’s case.
When BBK first put Alan’s allegations to the Scout Association, the Scout Association failed to respond to within a reasonable timeframe. In order to progress Alan’s case as smoothly as possible, BBK took the step of issuing Alan’s claim in the High Court.
Whilst the Scout Association denied that they were responsible for the actions of Bretherton throughout the claim, the documentary evidence we were able to uncover brought the Scout Association to the negotiating table and saw them put forward numerous offers to settle Alan’s case. In June 2016, the Scout Association put forward a substantial offer to settle Alan’s claim and compensate him for the abuse and assaults he was subjected to by Bretherton.
In June 2015 Bolt Burdon Kemp were approached by Bradley in relation to a serious indecent assault which he experienced at the hands of scoutmaster John Ainsworth when he was 11 years old. The incident occurred on one occasion between 1969-70 whilst Bradley was a member of Caton & Brookhouse Scouts in Lancaster.
At the time we were instructed, Bradley had spoken to police and provided a formal statement outlining how he was assaulted by Ainsworth after he saw news reports which detailed how Ainsworth had committed similar assaults against other children. The police investigated Bradley’s allegations and Ainsworth subsequently pleaded guilty to the assault whereupon he was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment.
BBK argued that the Scout Association should be held responsible for Ainsworth’s actions as they had retained Ainsworth as a scoutmaster and Ainsworth committed the assault during a scout camping trip. We were pleased that the Scout Association accepted these arguments and admitted liability for Ainsworth’s actions at an early stage.
Negotiations to settle Bradley’s claim followed. It was Bradley’s case that the assault by Ainsworth had a profound effect on his education and subsequent life as he no longer felt able to trust individuals in a position of authority. Bradley also experienced intrusive thoughts of the assault which affected him throughout his life.
BBK instructed an expert consultant psychiatrist who prepared a detailed report on Bradley’s psychiatric injuries and concluded that as a result of the assault by Ainsworth, Bradley had experienced a number of conditions including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and an Adjustment Disorder.
In June 2016, the Scout Association agreed to settle Bradley’s claim for a substantial sum.
BBK’s experience of dealing with the Scouts was a major factor in securing a swift admission of responsibility from the Scout Association and thereafter ensuring a speedy resolution and settlement.
I was delighted to settle both of these claims and obtain compensation and justice for my clients.
In both instances the Scout Association’s agreement to pay compensation to my clients represents the first time they have acknowledged their role in the abuse and assaults which my clients were subjected to and the fact that the abuse was carried out by scoutmasters who were able to gain access to and abuse children through their position within the Scout Association.