A local council has reassured four young people who were sexually abused by their father for 12 years while under its care that their horrific experience couldn't happen again.
The four people, who can't be named, approached Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart, after winning a legal case for negligence against Milton Keynes council. Social workers knew that the father had sexually abused his children in April 1992. Yet six months later they permitted him to return to the family home with no action taken and the children's names removed from the child protection register.
The father continued to abuse his children for the next 12 years. Eventually in 2005 he suffered a stroke and one of his children attempted suicide. It was at this point that all the children made allegations. The man appeared before Aylesbury crown court in April 2007, where he admitted 40 counts of sexual offences committed against his children. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Yet the four were shocked that the council contested liability all the way to a High Court trial, which they won in October last year. Their lawyer is child abuse specialist Tracey Emmott, who suggested they take their case to their MP, Iain Stewart. They claimed that there was no evidence that the council had changed their procedures or properly investigated the abuse they had suffered.
Mr Stewart agreed to take up the case with the council, who have now reported back on what changes they have instigated as a result of the childrens' abuse. In a letter to the MP, Milton Keynes chief executive Dave Hill claims procedures have changed. The council carried out much more robust checks and has greatly improved links with other childrens' services.
He ends: "We regret the events which caused distress and damage to your constituents. I hope that this response will reassure you, and them, that the same mistakes will not be repeated today."
Tracey Emmott has discussed the council's reassurances with her clients, and she explains that they are inclined to be reassured by the letter. "As my clients point out, it would be dangerous to give Milton Keynes children's services a clean bill of health because who knows what else may emerge, and what other failings might have occurred since," she says.
"But it seems clear that the council has taken responsible steps to review their procedures after the judgment, and my clients are reassured that their own tragic circumstances are unlikely to occur again.
So we're grateful both to the council and to Iain Stewart for taking the case with the seriousness it deserved."
In a statement, Iain Stewart said: "This was an appalling case of abuse. It is essential that lessons are learned so that this cannot happen again. I was happy to raise this issue with Milton Keynes Council and I trust that they will continue to ensure their procedures and safeguards are robust."