NW man denied review over abuse claims

Pacemaker Press 22/5/2013   Belfast High Court Building  in Belfast City centre  Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 22/5/2013 Belfast High Court Building in Belfast City centre Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

A man who claims he was sexually abused by a school principal in Londonderry in the 1970s has been refused leave to apply for judicial review of a desicion not to award him compensation.

According to newly-published court documents the 51-year-old - referred to as ‘P’ - was a pupil at a Londonderry school from 1974 to 1978.

“During his time at the school the applicant says that he was sexually abused by the Principal of the school,” states the transcript of a ruling by Justice Maguire in the High Court on December 6.

It adds: “The applicant made no report of the alleged sexual abuse until March 1, 2010. This brought about a police investigation in the course of which the applicant, the Principal and a teacher at the school at the time were interviewed. Ultimately the police investigation did not result in the Public Prosecution Service preferring any charges against anyone.”

‘P’ applied for criminal injury compensation but was refused on April 23, 2012. This was reviewed but upheld, upon which the applicant appealed to the Appeals Panel, which rejected the appeal on February 20, 2013.

Justice Maguire said the application crystallised to a challenge “on rationality grounds to the conclusion of the Panel that the sexual abuse claimed by the applicant had not been proved to have taken place.”

The Panel expressed concern about the late reporting of the alleged abuse and surprise at the applicant’s partner being unaware of it.

Justice Maguire stated: “The Panel appear also to have placed weight on the absence of major difficulties in the applicant getting on with his life, notwithstanding the alleged abuse.”

The Panel also took into account discrepancies in P’s version of events. The Court ruling states: “To the police, he referred to being abused by being touched through his clothes whereas before the Panel the applicant seems to have gone further and referred to the direct touching of him by his abuser in a form of skin to skin contact. The point appears to have damaged the applicant’s credibility in the Panel’s eyes.”

The Appeals Panel was also impressed by the evidence of the other teacher and by the account of the Principal given to the police.

“These accounts cast doubt on the viability of the scenario put forward by the applicant insofar as it related to him being separated from the other pupils and then taken to the potting shed where he was then abused,” the ruling states.

Justice Maguire, considering a range of procedural and legal issues, dismissed the application for leave to apply for judicial review.