250 survivors of abuse in children’s homes, boarding schools and foster homes formed a lobby within the Houses of Parliament in London. Arranged through John Mann, MP, survivors, supporters, journalists, lawyers and social workers the lobby started with the laying of white flowers outside the Parliament. There were then two smaller meetings, one to discuss the reality of whistleblowing and the other to highlight the need to bring offenders into the criminal justice system. The afternoon was completed by a meeting of the full lobby with representatives of most of the political parties present to not only hear of the atrocities and violation of human rights experienced by the survivors, but to look to the future about what is needed from another inquiry and how the survivors interests can be properly represented.
Advice was given by Michael Mansfield, QC and Richard Scorer, Gordon and Slater Solicitors, on how the survivors could work together to be a party to the inquiry. Richard Scorer explained about the current appeal against the Criminal Prosecution Service not to prosecute Lord Janner. MPs spoke of their commitment to support survivors through questions and debate in Parliament. Survivors spoke of the need to make sure that people were properly supported through giving evidence and of the need for those who had committed criminal acts to be prosecuted through the courts. Debate took place about the need for mandatory reporting of abuse by professionals.
There was a great deal of rawness and anger in the room. Rightly people were critical of professionals with blinkered vision or not hearing the silent screams. Ruth Stark, President of IFSW, spoke of the need to acknowledge that power and control enabled offenders to impose a very powerful silence on victims and whistle-blowers. She spoke of how most abuse was uncovered when victims spoke out because they could see a younger brother or sister being targeted. Finally she asked the survivors to help the inquiry understand what they were looking for when they talked about getting justice. Justice is perceived in many different ways. A politician will see it differently from a lawyer; a victim will see it differently from an offender. For any Inquiry to be successful it needs to have a clear understanding about whose sense of social justice we are pursuing.
Today we welcome the news that the CPS has reversed its decision not to prosecute Lord Janner, who was originally named in the Frank Beck trial back in 1988.
The WhiteFlowers’ Campaign is about restoring long lost dignity and respect back to people who had it taken from them when they were children who were in care or at boarding schools for their care and protection. They suffered in silence controlled by adults who used their power and control to commit heinous offences. Throughout the world there are many other survivors of this type of abuse and we will work in partnership with others, not only to ensure children in future care are protected from these crimes, but to help them achieve their sense of social justice