No amount of money can make up for the devastating impact of childhood abuse but in historical cases where the abuser is now dead, seeking compensation is often the only way to get redress and recognition of what has happened to you.


Fiona McNelis
Fiona McNelis
Senior Associate Solicitor & Head of Public Law, Civil

This was the situation facing a client of ours recently who came to us for help following years of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a paedophile ring while in a local authority care home.  This distressing case was handled by Fiona McNelis in our public law team who faced an uphill battle in her quest for justice.

As Fiona explains

"The difficulty in this case was that the abuse dated back to the 1950s and 60s and involved a lot of people, many of whom had since died.  The likelihood of anyone being prosecuted and serving time in jail was low and it became clear at an early stage that our client’s best chance of achieving a positive outcome was to sue the local authority for their failure to ensure adequate safeguards were in place.  Such safeguards would have protected our client from abuse carried out by members of staff and their guests, including the now notorious paedophile Jimmy Saville.

At first the local authority refused to accept responsibility, arguing that it was impossible to verify what our client alleged given that most of the perpetrators were dead and there were gaps in available records.  They also objected to a claim being made outside of the usual time limits allowed in sexual abuse cases, which typically require a claim to be brought within three years of the victim turning 18 or three years from the date that they became aware that the abuse had occurred.

These were big obstacles to overcome, but through hard work and dedication we were able to build up a file of evidence, including compelling testimony from the client, which was enough to convince the local authority that something very wrong had happened and that the right thing to do was to settle the claim and pay our client substantial compensation.

Speaking to the client afterwards it was clear to see the relief that they felt, not because of the money they had received but because of what it symbolised to them.  In their minds it was proof that they had been abused, that it was not something they had imagined and most importantly that it was not their fault."

We Can Help

If you have been the victim of abuse and require help to bring those responsible to justice, please call us in confidence on 0203 551 8500 or use our Contact Us form to arrange a callback.  You will not be charged for your call and may be eligible for legal aid to help you pursue your claim. 

We understand that talking about abuse is difficult but rest assured that if you choose us to handle your case you will be treated with care and compassion by lawyers who are passionate about helping survivors of abuse get the recognition they need to move on and rebuild their lives. 

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