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Survivor of childhood sexual abuse by former choirmaster secures substantial five-figure settlement

A survivor of childhood sexual abuse by former choirmaster Mark Burgess has settled his civil claim against the Parish of Portsea for a total settlement sum of £90,000.

Posted on 11 April 2024

As a child, the survivor, who is represented Leigh Day, was systematically groomed, sexually abused and exploited by Burgess over a number of years.

The abuse took place when Burgess was the choirmaster at All Saints’ Church, Portsea, and the client was a member of the church choir.

In May 2021, Burgess was convicted of 68 sexual offences against 13 children, including the client, between the early 1970s and 2000. Burgess was sentenced to a total of 40 years’ imprisonment, reduced on appeal to 31 years. 

The client joined the church choir in the early 1980s aged around 11 years old, and was particularly vulnerable to Burgess’s grooming and abuse because of his life circumstances.  

The choir quickly became a big part of the client’s life and gave him a sense of belonging. It was in this context that Burgess preyed on his vulnerabilities and subjected him to sexual abuse.

Leigh Day lawyers say the substantial settlement in this case reflects the significant psychological harm their client suffered as a result of the abuse. They add that it has particularly affected his educational outcomes and employment opportunities, and continues to impact his interpersonal relationships. 

The client said: 

"Alison and the rest of her team at Leigh Day were exceptional during the whole process. Considering the delicacy of this matter, I was made to feel at ease and open. My confidentiality was upheld throughout. I am very happy with the settlement." 

Alison Millar, head of Leigh Day’s abuse team, said: 

“This is another case arising from Mark Burgess’s prolific and longstanding abuse of children in the Portsmouth area. Serious questions remain unanswered by the Parish and Diocese of Portsmouth about how Burgess was able to get away with his heinous acts for so many years. I am glad to have been able to reach a resolution of this civil claim for our client; we hope that the compensation goes some way towards enabling him to heal after these appalling incidents of abuse during his childhood.” 

Alison has successfully represented another survivor of Burgess’s abuse in a civil claim.

Alison Millar
Abuse claims Human rights

Alison Millar

Alison Millar works in the human rights department at Leigh Day, where she is the head of abuse claims

Josephine Whitehouse
Abuse claims

Josephine Whitehouse

Josephine is a trainee solicitor in the abuse team

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