Page last updated at 17:05 GMT, Thursday, 29 May 2008 18:05 UK

City may compensate abuse victims

The site of the former Children's Cottage Home in Cosham, Portsmouth
The allegations mostly date back to alleged incidents in the 1950s

A city council could compensate the victims of alleged abuse at a former children's care home in Hampshire.

A report to Portsmouth's executive recommends that the city solicitor negotiates a settlement with some residents of Children's Cottage Home.

The move was welcomed by Les Cummings, who has led a campaign for an apology.

The city council would not comment ahead of a cabinet meeting on Monday to discuss the matter, but its leader said it was not an acceptance of liability.

Following fresh allegations, Hampshire police were reviewing a 2006 investigation into claims by 21 men and women of sexual and physical abuse at the children's home in Cosham, mostly during the 1950s.

The Crown Prosecution Service had examined allegations against the centre but decided not to prosecute because 17 of the alleged abusers had died and there was insufficient evidence against the remaining three.

I believe the money is an apology
Les Cummings
alleged victim

Police have spoken to two alleged victims, including Mr Cummings who has waived his anonymity.

They claim that a number of children were taken from their dormitories during the night and disappeared.

Mr Cummings claims he suffered years of physical abuse at the home.

He has led a campaign for an apology and compensation from Portsmouth City Council.

"It's very emotional," said the 63-year-old.

"They're not going to apologise, and for legal reasons I can see the sense in that.

"I think that anyone who settles an amount of money and pays out, even if it's only 1, it's an acceptance of responsibility.

"I believe the money is an apology - it's an immense relief.

"It's an honourable ending to a dramatically terrible situation.

"I would like to have seen criminal prosecutions but most of the people have now passed on."

'Great sympathy'

Council agenda papers for next Monday's meeting show that the cabinet has been recommended to approve negotiating compensation for each claimant plus legal costs.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson would not comment on the confidential council report recommending that the city solicitor seeks a settlement.

But he did say the move was not an acceptance of liability.

"It was important to find a way for those people who feel they were badly treated to be recognised in some way and acknowledged," he added.

"I have a great deal of sympathy for them, and if this provides the recognition they need I fully support that."

Second 'abuse' victim speaks out
07 Mar 08 |  Hampshire
Police review abuse investigation
27 Feb 08 |  Hampshire

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