Boris Johnson’s comments on Medomsley abuse convictions very concerning

Boris Johnson states the police have “spaffed” money up the wall investigating abuse ...
The former Medomsley Detention Centre.The former Medomsley Detention Centre.
The former Medomsley Detention Centre.

Last week news broke of former officers at Medomsley Detention Centre near Consett being convicted of abusing detainees.

Medomsley was open from 1963 to 1987 and for a long period operated a “short sharp shock” regime for young males. Many of these teenagers had never been in custody before. Some arrived having committed their first minor offence – offences which these days probably would not even go to court.

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Detainees describe a version of hell. Isolated from their families with no effective checks and balances, the atmosphere at Medomsley was one of fear and violence. Many detainees describe being punched by officers within moments of their arrival.

In 2003 the officer in charge of the kitchens at the Medomsley, Neville Husband, went to prison for sexually abusing detainees. The storeman, Leslie Johnson, was also jailed in 2003 for sexual offences.

Last week news broke of further convictions; this time concerning physical violence.

Our firm acts for nearly 400 former detainees who were abused at Medomsley. We have been at Teesside Crown Court watching key moments in the recent criminal trials resulting in former officers being convicted of offences ranging from GBH to misconduct in public office. There may be more prosecutions in due course.

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Detainees described how they have struggled for years to get anyone to listen to their claims about Medomsley. Last week was a momentous week – news of the recent convictions were for the first time broadcast in the media. Previously reporting restrictions had applied.

It is disappointing that last week Conservative MP Boris Johnson took to the media to give his views cases like this. He declared “I think an awful lot of money has been spaffed up the wall on some investigation into historic child abuse”. The use of this kind of language – particularly the word “spaffed” – when discussing child abuse including sexual abuse of children is very concerning.

Personally I am at a loss to understand Boris Johnson’s view. Is he saying the past is the past – move on? Given the limited resources the police and oourts have sensible maybe – but surely only for lesser offences? Few would advocate prosecuting a shoplifting offence which occurred 10 years ago. But not investigating child abuse? Really? If the police refused to investigate such offences what message would that give to the victims/survivors? What message would it give to the offenders? (Perhaps the message would be: if you don’t get your collar felt for a few years you can take it that you are home free – we don’t care).

Without doubt it would mean paedophiles not being in prison and/or not on supervision/treatment programmes but walking the streets free to offend further. The Prime Minister not so long ago said that “Boris is Boris”. But Mr Johnson is an MP with a lot of media coverage who some tip to be the next Prime Minister. He has responsibilities as a public figure and should look to these before speaking so dismissively about these sensitive matters.

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If you were a detainee at Medomsley Detention Centre and wish to discuss matters please contact our solicitors Richard Hardy or Andrew Freckleton.