Essex council in payout to child sex abuse victims

Essex County Council has paid out just under £1m to four victims of sexual abuse over its failure to protect them.

The council paid the damages in a settlement to the four siblings after the authority failed to protect them from sexual abuse by their father.

Legal action began in 2002 with an agreement reached in November 2011.

A spokesperson for the council claimed the authority had made significant improvements in children's services and would continue to do so.

'Serious risk'

In total the authority has paid out £908,750 to the victims.

The case dates back to 1990 when one of the children told a neighbour that her father had been sexually abusing her.

The authority started a child protection investigation and discovered that the father had been convicted of sexually abusing two children from his previous marriage.

He was required to move out of the family home but continued having contact with his children, supervised by their mother.

Allegations later emerged that the man had been left in charge of the children and in 1993 the children's school raised concerns about their behaviour.

The council began a risk assessment on the father. After more allegations of abuse in 1995 and 1996, the assessment concluded that he posed a high risk of reoffending and the children should be protected from him.

But the authority recommended that he had supervised contact with them.

Charity alerted

In 1997, a report from Great Ormond Street Hospital revealed serious sexual abuse by the father of all four children, with the knowledge of the mother.

It was only then that the children were put under full care orders, effectively recognising that they were at serious risk.

The delay and various failings by the council only emerged in 2002 when Southend Borough Council became involved and alerted a children's legal charity, which started the case on behalf of the children.

A spokesperson for Essex County Council said the authority could not comment on an individual case but stressed "in recent years we have made significant improvements in our children's services and we are committed to continue to do this".

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