Former resident at Hornchurch children’s home warns of ‘scandal’ of legal aid delays in sex abuse probe
- Credit: Archant
A man giving evidence in a public inquiry into historical child sexual abuse says the delays in legal aid funding for victims is “a scandal”.
Paul Connolly, 54, of Brentwood, spent 12 years living at St Leonard’s children’s home in Hornchurch, where children – including some of Mr Connolly’s peers – were sexually abused between 1970 and 1982.
He is now a core participant in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which aims to expose past failures of institutions to protect children.
But Mr Connolly said he feared losing representation if no funding was released for victims in the inquiry.
“We are not going to be able to afford to pay the fees. It’s nonsense,” he said. “The government has asked us to come forward to take part in the inquiry. We are talking about thousands of victims whose voices could be brushed under the carpet.”
You may also want to watch:
Solicitor David Enright is representing Mr Connolly, along with 20per cent of all core participants in the inquiry.
He said the limited funding meant the focus of the inquiry was “skewed” and branded it “fundamentally flawed”.
- 1 Illegal car meet in Rainham sees 49 fined for Covid breaches
- 2 Letters: Social distancing, vaccination experience and how to stop catalytic converter thefts
- 3 Infection rates are now falling in Havering - is lockdown working?
- 4 70% of Havering residents voted to leave the EU
- 5 Havering parks and gardens five feet under water as rivers burst their banks
- 6 Romford MP hails charity's 'extraordinary' work during Covid pandemic
- 7 Fines issued to Romford and Upminster restaurants flouting coronavirus restrictions
- 8 Charity boss hails response after 'army of volunteers' come forward to support vaccine centres
- 9 Brentwood Tudor church damaged in illegal New Year's Eve party raises nearly £20,000 for repairs
- 10 Sonic boom heard across east London, Essex and Cambridge
Mr Enright has been working pro bono – without charge – on the cases for a year.
Despite multiple applications for funding, the partner at Howe & Co. has not received the funds necessary to cover the legal fees.
The probe is the largest ever public inquiry and was launched following the Jimmy Savile scandal.
“All the institutions involved have unlimited resources to protect their reputation. It’s an unequal playing field,” said Mr Enright.
An IICSA spokeswoman said: “We are currently considering the applications received, including those of Mr Enright’s clients, and decisions will be made as soon as possible.
“This was not possible to grant funding at that stage for those connected with St Leonard’s because that investigation only opened for applications for core participants in the summer.”
She added that core participants are able to apply for funding for a legal team.