Exaro News Archive

Richmond council made ‘hush payment’ to victim of sex abuse

One victim speaks about hell of being sexually abused as a boy at Elm Guest House

By David Hencke, Mark Watts and Alex Varley-Winter | 2 February 2013

Richmond council made ‘hush payment’ to victim of sex abuseRichmond council secretly paid compensation to at least one person who was sexually abused as a boy in its care, detectives have discovered.

The disclosure suggests that the London borough of Richmond-upon-Thames was aware of allegations that boys in its care were sexually abused in at least one of its children’s homes and at Elm Guest House in Barnes, south-west London, but failed to investigate properly.

It comes as Exaro today reveals how files seized under ‘Operation Fernbridge’ by the Metropolitan Police Service name the man who helped turn a guest house into a paedophile brothel allegedly used by MPs and other VIPs.

Last week, Exaro reported how detectives were examining the role of Richmond council.

Detectives are understood to have obtained files from the council revealing that at least one victim launched civil proceedings against the authority and one of its employees.

It is unclear whether the council made its “restitution payment” to settle that action, or whether it admitted liability.

The council would not comment about any compensation payments. It said in a statement this afternoon: “Richmond Council considers the safeguarding of all children and young people as an utmost priority and we take any allegations of abuse very seriously.

“As such, we are offering our full support and co-operation to the police during their investigation. As the investigation is ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Police have spoken to several victims, and are preparing to make initial arrests and lay charges within weeks.

Well-placed sources say that the police are planning to change their tactics from the approach taken in ‘Operation Yewtree’, which is investigating allegations of child sex abuse related to Jimmy Savile, the BBC presenter who died in 2011, and other celebrities.

Police believe that it was a mistake to arrest suspects when they were not ready to charge them. They think that this left victims doubtful about the police determination to pursue the cases.

They have decided that the initial arrests under ‘Operation Fernbridge’ should only be made when there is sufficient evidence for them to be accompanied by charges. They hope that this will show their seriousness.

The Met is planning to hold a press conference soon after making initial arrests to encourage any children who were sexually abused at Elm Guest House or at children’s homes run by Richmond – especially Grafton Close –to come forward.

Exaro understands that the police have expanded the relevant timeframe to cover the period from 1977 to 1983.

They believe that the paedophile ring was initially centred on Grafton Close children’s home. Documents in the case show that the main centre of abuse transferred in 1982 to Elm Guest House, with most of the boys coming from Grafton Close.

Exaro and the Sunday People have teamed up to expose what the evidence suggests is a dreadful scandal of child sex abuse – whether or not MPs and other VIPs were among the perpetrators – and how it was covered up for three decades.

One victim at the guest house, Peter Hatton-Bornshin, reportedly killed himself at the age of 28 after taking a drug overdose.

Peter was orphaned when he was 13, and went to Grafton Close. He took an overdose of codeine 18 years ago and choked to death. He left a note explaining his fear that he would be unable to control his violent fantasies against women if he remained alive.

His case worker said that his mental problems were partly caused by the abuse that he suffered while in the care of Richmond council.

One line in his suicide note seemed to refer to this, saying: “I will get those bastards.”

The coroner described it as “the tragic end to a tragic life.”

The Sunday People today publishes an interview with one man who gives a graphic account of the hell of being sexually abused as a boy at Elm Guest House.

He told how he was plied with alcohol, ordered to dress in fairy clothes, photographed and then sickeningly molested at the guest house.

“What went on was absolutely disgusting,” he said. “No one was listening to us then. It has taken 30 years for anyone to listen.”

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Exaro News investigates matters of public interest and seeks to uncover the truth.