Oxfordshire County Council has spent £245,000 of taxpayers’ money fighting victims’ claims after the Operation Bullfinch scandal which saw 21 men being jailed
Image: Adam Gerrard / Sunday Mirror)
A child sex victim whose key evidence helped jail paedophile gangs in a scandal that shook Britain is still fighting for compensation 10 years on.
Now in her 30s, she says her battle has left her feeling suicidal.
“You can’t move on. There should be a system to stop people like me going through all this,” she says.
She speaks out as we reveal the council whose failings led to hundreds of youngsters being abused has spent £245,000 of taxpayers’ money fighting claims – more than five times the average settlements already paid out.
We understand lawyers are advising Oxfordshire County Council to give claimants rigorous psychological tests to force them to prove how traumatised they are.
Our victim was raped by hundreds of men from the age of 12 and branded a liar by social workers.
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She says police at first even threatened to arrest her. But she was to become the star witness in the 2011 Operation Bullfinch investigation that led to 21 men being jailed.
In 2015, an independent Serious Case Review found council failures and warned of a potential 373 victims of abuse stretching back to the Nineties.
The star witness was taken into care at the height of her abuse but claims authorities ridiculed her.
She told us: “I’ve already been assessed by an independent psychologist who says I have PTSD. But I’ve been told I have to be assessed again by another psychologist chosen by the council’s legal team.
“Every time we get to a point where it looks like it’s coming to a conclusion, they find something to delay. I can’t shut the door on it. There have been times when I felt suicidal.
“It’s not just about money, it’s about questions I’ve wanted answered all this time.
“You shouldn’t have to fight so hard when they already publicly admitted they didn’t do enough.”
The woman says authorities frequently found her covered in throttle marks and cigarette burns but did nothing.
She said: “My social worker told me it was a figment of my imagination. There were times I questioned my sanity.”
She is one of 32 who have taken legal action against the council for failing to protect them since 2012.
A total of 19 have received out of-court settlements totalling £920,500 – an average payout of £48,447.
Council chief Joanna Simons – who resisted calls to resign after the 2015 review – walked away with a £259, 000 golden goodbye two years later.
We found that just one person was sacked as a result of the widespread failings.
An Oxfordshire County Council spokesman said it has “always been fully committed to support those who experienced abuse” and that the compensation paid out was “a demonstration of that”.
Solicitor David Greenwood, representing our victim, said such cases can attract six-figure payouts.
Lawyers have to prove a client suffered psychological harm and their trauma led to lost earnings.
He said: “If this is a person who is intelligent and would have been likely to get a decent job, it could be hundreds of thousands of pounds.”
He said it takes years to resolve some cases as authorities are often reluctant to hand over files: “In a lot of cases we have to go to court.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.