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Sunday, 3 March, 2002, 18:51 GMT
Child sex victim seeks inquiry
Shy Keenan
Shy Keenan waived her right to anonimity
A victim of the paedophile ring exposed by the BBC Newsnight programme has called for a public inquiry.

Shy Keenan, who was persistently abused from the age of eight, has also called for the director of Wirral Social Services to resign.

The 39-year-old, formerly known as Karen Claridge, waived her right to anonymity after her stepfather and his friend were convicted last week.

Stanley Claridge, 72, and Reginald Morton received a total of 27 years in prison. A third man is awaiting sentence.

Stanley Claridge
Stanley Claridge adopted Shy Keenan

Ms Keenan, who was persistently abused from the age of eight, described her treatment by Wirral Social Services as appalling and inhumane.

She called for director Kevin Miller to resign and revealed plans to deliver a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair asking for a public inquiry.

In an open letter she told of the "long, painful and bizarre journey, from the first time that monster touched me, to this conviction".

She said: "When the judge sentenced Stanley and the others, for the first time in my life, I felt believed and visible."

Claridge, of Eastham, Wirral, was sentenced to 15 years at Liverpool Crown Court where the jury convicted him of a string of offences dating back to the 1970s on girls and a young boy.

Morton, 73, an ex-market trader, formerly of, Tranmere, Wirral, was jailed for 12 years.

Former club singer David King, 59, of Eastham Rake, Eastham, Wirral, is awaiting sentence.

'Heartfelt sympathy'

Ms Keenan turned to BBC's Newsnight programme after frequent efforts to expose her abusers failed.

The report, broadcast in November 2000, led to the launch of a joint inquiry between Merseyside Police and Wirral Social Services codenamed Operation Phoenix.

Ms Keenan was quick to commend Detective Superintendent Geoff Sloan and the police officers involved in Operation Phoenix describing them as "our heroes".

But she condemned Wirral Social Services claiming her life had been "blighted" after being cast, early on, as a "young temptress" while Claridge was seen as the victim.

Responding to the allegations in a statement Mr Miller, who joined Wirral Social Services three years ago, said all the victims had "the heartfelt sympathy" of everyone involved in the investigation.

Shy Keenan as a young girl
Shy Keenan claims she was forced into child prostitution

He said: "Operation Phoenix, although a successful investigation, can do little to ease the suffering they endure.

"Shy is currently in litigation with Wirral Social Services in connection with what happened to her during her childhood.

"This is her prerogative and I applaud her determination to put her desperately unhappy past to rest.

"Part of this is her great need for public apologies and atonement, but she knows that I am unable to make any comment at all while litigation is ongoing.

"All I am able to do at present to try and support her quest for answers is to reiterate that we have commissioned an independent and rigorous multi-agency review of what happened during the 70s and 80s.

"The review had to await the outcome of the criminal proceedings before it could begin as it could have jeopardised the case.

"All police and social services staff who were involved in Operation Phoenix have been deeply affected by it and delighted at its outcome.

"We all applaud Shy's courage and fervently hope it will inspire others to speak out and put an early end to abuse."

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01 Mar 02 | England
Reporter exposed abuse claims
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