Survivors of sexual abuse at a Croydon children’s home have pulled out of an inquiry because they do not feel it is independent.
The Shirley Oaks Survivors Association (SOSA) said it had lost confidence in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which has seen multiple resignations since it was set up two years ago.
More than 600 children had suffered abuse on an “industrial scale” at the former Lambeth Council-run children’s home Shirley Oaks, according to evidence given to the inquiry.
The group this morning announced it would now conduct its own investigation, describing the Home Office’s inquiry as a “stage-managed event”.
A statement published on its website read: “Having watched the IICSA unpalatable circus stumble and lurch from crisis to crisis with multiple resignations and claims of racial and sexual abuse thrown into the mix...
“It no longer matters whether we think the Inquiry is just another stitch up because it’s clearly a botch job that needs a drastic overhaul if it is ever to achieve its initial objectives.”
Raymond Stevenson, of the Shirley Oaks Survivors Association, earlier this year told BBC Newsnight the probe had failed to meet group members when asked to.
Mr Stevenson was drugged and beaten while in care at Shirley Oaks Children's Home, where a paedophile ring operated between the 1960s and 1980s.
Former residents of the Wickham Road children's home formed the association to fight for justice and push for an investigation into claims of a cover-up.
He cited concerns about the Home Office’s involvement in the inquiry.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd, in response to SOSA’s statement, today said: “The Independent Inquiry has a vital role to play in exposing the failure of public bodies and other major organisations to prevent child sexual abuse.
“We must learn the lessons of the past and we owe it to victims and survivors to get behind the Inquiry, and its chair Alexis Jay, in its endeavour.”
SOSA criticised the appointment of the inquiry’s chairman Professor Alexis Jay, after it lost three previous leaders.
“The fact that Professor Jay has not even bothered to meet us or contact us since her appointment only adds to our fear that she is an uninspiring leader who cannot reach out beyond her daisy chain circle of middle management cronies,” the statement reads.
It said the ‘failed’ inquiry will leave a “pigment of shame on the Government’s hands”.
“The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse could have provided an opportunity for contemplation and learning across the UK as a whole.
“We are all aware that mistakes were made in the past but without learning, these mistakes will continue to be made in the future.
“The lives and future of many current and future care children could have been improved.
“But instead this opportunity lost will leave a pigment of shame on the Government’s hands.”