Council bosses say no to abuse man's compensation award
At an extraordinary meeting of the full South Tyneside Council tonight, it was decided unanimously to defy a recommendation by the Local Government Ombudsman for the council to pay Simon Buck - referred to as Mr Y throughout the meeting - £400 and to apologise after it found he had been the victim of procedural errors during an investigation into abuse allegations against him.
These procedural errors had no bearing on the outcome of the probe which found Mr Buck had abused a vulnerable elderly man during his time as a care worker.
Mr Buck denies the allegations.
In a named vote, councillors unanimously agreed Mr Buck should not receive compensation or an apology.
Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and wellbeing said: “South Tyneside Council has never before been asked to pay compensation to a complainant who is not a service user or customer, but is actually a perpetrator of abuse. Mr Y complained about the service he received during an investigation into abuse he was deemed responsible for.”
Coun Dixon said details of the abuse are now widely known, four years on, due to his complaint to the Ombudsman and the decision that Mr Y was a perpetrator of elder abuse was a decision of a multi-agency panel - made up a number of professionals - not the council.
Her stance not to pay compensation or apologise was backed by a number of councillors.
Coun Jim Foreman said: “What people have to realise, the council and the officers of this council are the custodians of safeguarding for the most vulnerable in our society.”
“Mr Y wants an apology but I for one will not be giving him an apology. He wants compensation from the public purse and we hold the responsibility for that purse and we shouldn’t be giving him compensation.”
A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: “South Tyneside Council has made a decision to refuse to apologise or pay compensation to Mr Y. We will not apologise or pay compensation to someone who has been found to be an elder abuser by a panel of multi-agency professionals and who has caused distress to vulnerable adults.
The Council fully recognises the role of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman and acknowledges his finding of administrative errors where the council was acting as the administering body for investigations into the abuse of vulnerable people.
“We have already revised our procedures and will, as recommended, remind staff of the importance of making clear records of the reasons for decisions made by professionals and communicating in a timely manner.”
Mr Buck and Mrs Lewell-Buck were unavailable for comment.