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ABUSED CHILDREN TO SUE COUNCILS

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More than 500 children who suffered abuse and neglect are to be given permission to sue them as a result of a landm...
More than 500 children who suffered abuse and neglect are to be given permission to sue them as a result of a landmark court action, reported The Sunday Times (p10). The decision in favour of five brothers and sisters from Bedfordshire, who have been suing the

county council for almost a decade, will open the way for massive financial settlements.

The case, known as X vs Bedfordshire CC, which ended with immunity for local authorities in the house of lords four years ago, was taken to the European court of human rights by the official solicitor, the children's court-appointed advocate. Court sources say an 'imminent' ruling is set to overthrow the Lords' decision. The Human Rights

Act, which comes into force in Britain next year, will also make it easier to seek compensation from public bodies.

In the Bedfordshire case two boys and three girls suffered gross neglect at their home in the mid-1980s. They were so underfed they stole food from school bins, slept in urine-sodden bedding and were locked in their bedrooms for days at a time. From 1987 Bedfordshire social services received reports of their plight from the NSPCC, neighbours, the police, their GP and a headmaster. But they were taken into care only in 1992.

The official solicitor sued Bedfordshire CC on the children's behalf, but the law lords ruled that councils could not be financially penalised for failing in their statutory childcare duties.

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