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Abuse Victim Calls For Social Services Director To Resign

A WOMAN who suffered years of horrific sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather last night demanded a public apology from Wirral Social Services.
Shy Keenan hit out at social workers after her stepfather, 72-year-old Stanley Claridge, and fellow paedophile Reginald Morton, 73, were jailed for a total of 27 years for their crimes at Liverpool Crown Court last Monday.
Claridge and Morton repeatedly abused Ms Keenan, her elder sister and four other girls, as well as a young boy, between 1971 and November 1982, in the Noctorum estate in Birkenhead.
Ms Keenan, 38, last night claimed she had approached social workers many times during the years of her abuse but that they failed to act.
She also says that she was not taken seriously by the authorities when she broke her years of silence in January, 2000 and that it was not until she appeared on Newsnight the following November that Wirral Social Services took action.
She is taking legal action against Wirral Social Services, claiming that it failed in its duty to protect her from abuse.
She also called for the director of the service, Kevin Miller, who appeared on the Newsnight programme, to stand down.
Ms Keenan said: "Wirral Social Services should have known I was being abused from when I was eight years old.
"They stuck by this wrong decision throughout the decades, throughout all the new thinking, new guidelines and political and social change.
"I turned to the authorities dozens of times in my life from the age of eight up to last year, trying to get them to stop him.
"But Wirral Social Services won't admit they were wrong or apologise.
"Kevin Miller should resign. He has shown why he is not the right man for this job."
An independent report into the case has concluded that Ms Keenan was ignored by social services and police until the setting up of Operation Phoenix, the operation which finally smashed the paedophile ring which had been run by Claridge.
Ms Keenan said: "It has been a long, painful and bizarre journey from the first time that monster touched me to this conviction.
"When the judge sentenced Stanley and the others, for the first time in my life I felt believed and that I was no longer invisible.
"I intend to deliver a letter to Tony Blair at number 10 myself, asking him to order a public inquiry into this matter.
In a statement, Mr Miller last night said: "Operation Phoenix was a joint investigation between social services and the police. Shy Keenan - and all the other victims in this case - have the heartfelt sympathy of everyone involved for their obvious and continuing pain.
"Operation Phoenix, although a successful investigation, can do little to ease the suffering they endure.
"Shy is in litigation with Wirral Social Services in connection with what happened to her during her childhood.
"It is her prerogative and I applaud her determination to put her desperately unhappy past to rest.
"Part of this is her great need for public apologies and atonement, but she knows that I am unable to make any comment at all while litigation is ongoing.
"All I am able to do at present to try to support her quest for answers is to reiterate that we have commissioned an independent and rigorous multiagency review of what happened during the 1970s and 80s and the findings of that review will be shared with Shy as soon as they are known.
"This review had to await the outcome of the criminal proceedings before it could begin, as it could have jeopardised the case.
"The independent reviewer has already made contact with Shy and she will be involved with the review and made aware of its findings as soon as they are known.
"She has already been made aware of the outcome of the review into events in 2000 and that the recommendations within it have been acted upon by all child protection agencies working in Wirral.
"All police and social services staff who were involved in Operation Phoenix have been deeply affected by it and delighted at its outcome. We all applaud Shy's courage and fervently hope it will inspire others to speak out and put an early end to abuse."

Daily Post (4-3-2002)
Stephen Rylance




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