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Former sea cadet who claims sexual abuse by commanding officer given £76,000 compensation

A woman known as WLY has settled a legal claim for £76,000 against a unit of the Sea Cadet Corps following alleged sexual abuse by a male staff member between 1997 and 1999.

Posted on 14 March 2023

The sexual assaults, which included penetrative assault, occurred within the cadet building and while WLY was away from home on residential trips. The sexual abuse occurred over several months and began when WLY was just 14 years old.

The alleged abuser, who at one stage became acting commanding officer, eventually left the cadets without allegations being proved. WLY’s mother recalled another member of staff from the cadet unit coming to the family home to discuss the situation between her daughter and the alleged abuser.

The alleged abuser is believed to have died in 2014 having not faced a criminal investigation.

WLY instructed Leigh Day to bring a compensation claim against her former Sea Cadet unit which initially admitted a breach of duty. Medical evidence in the legal claim indicated that WLY was suffering from Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder because of the abuse.

Court proceedings were started after settlement negotiations broke down and the Defendant’s legal representative changed to the Government Legal Department. At that point the Defendant revoked their admission of breach of duty of care and tried to argue that the case was out of time. They also revoked their previous settlement offers and put forward a greatly reduced figure.

Leigh Day wrote to the Government Legal Department pointing out the Defendant’s previous admission despite the passage of time and also highlighted how the new position was surprising given the Sea Cadets had previously made public statements that the “Sea Cadets unreservedly apologises for any hurt or anger felt by any victim of abuse”, and that the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) was bringing attention to institutional responses to abuse.

IICSA has since published its final report and has recommended that the three-year limitation period for claims brought by survivors of child sexual abuse be removed. The Government’s full response to the IICSA report is awaited.

WLY’s case was eventually settled for £76,000. The Defendant declined to make an apology to WLY.

Andrew Lord, Senior Associate solicitor in the abuse claims team at Leigh Day, represented WLY. He said:

“The Defendant’s about turn in the claim raised a number of unnecessary hurdles for my client, a survivor of childhood abuse who was seeking justice. Despite the current climate and the then-ongoing work of IICSA, the Defendant still chose to revoke an admission of a breach of duty of care, and then argued that the claim was brought out of time, put forward reduced settlement offers, and refused to make an apology.

“This case illustrates why it is important that the Government acts promptly to implement IICSA’s recommended reform on limitation periods for abuse claims. My client’s strength and resolve to see this matter through, despite the Defendant’s behaviour and tactics in the litigation, was inspiring. I hope that with time WLY can utilise the compensation to move forwards with her journey towards recovery.”

Andrew Lord
Abuse claims Human rights

Andrew Lord

Andrew Lord is a senior associate solicitor in the abuse claims team.

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