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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 November, 2003, 12:55 GMT
New move in children's home claims
by Nic Rigby
BBC News Online

Keith Laverack
Keith Laverack was jailed for 18 years for child abuse
A county council is facing demands for more than 600,000 in compensation over claims children were abused in one of its homes, a solicitor has told BBC News Online.

On Friday night, solicitor Andrew Grove, said a legal submission by Cambridgeshire County Council was a "major victory" in his legal battle to compensate 22 former residents of one of its children's homes.

The fight for compensation follows the 1997 conviction of Keith Laverack of sexually abusing children at homes in Cambridgeshire and Cheshire between 1975 and 1987.

Laverack, who held senior positions at the children's homes and with Cambridgeshire County Council's social services, was jailed for 18 years.

Now the council has decided to admit liability for personal injury, loss and damage caused to each former resident of Midfield Observation and Assessment Centre if each can prove:

  • Allegations of sexual abuse against Laverack

  • That this caused their injury, loss or damage.

    Previous out of court settlements concerning 55 claims by former residents of different children's homes, connected to Laverack, have cost the council more than 1m.

    Cambridgeshire County Council
    The claims are against Cambridgeshire County Council

    But on these occasions Cambridgeshire County Council made no admission of liability.

    Mr Grove, who is based in Cambridge, said the admission of liability by Cambridgeshire County Council relating to Midfield was an important step forward.

    The former residents, who are now aged between 28 and 40, claim they were abused by Laverack who between 1975 and 1987 was a warden at Midfield .

    A spokesman for the authority said: "Legal representatives on all sides are working together to resolve these claims as soon as possible."

    A county council source said the admission was not significant and would only become effective if the claimants could prove they had been the victims of abuse while at the home.

    Mr Grove said on average each compensation claim had been settled for about 30,000 and expected a settlement involving 22 people to cost the council about 660,000.

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