Will the Queen apologise for the CSA failings over the past 60 years?

Recently we have been told by commentators, senior politicians, and prominent figures that the police must apologise for the way they have investigated high profile or prominent figures on child sexual abuse (CSA) allegations. I believe that the police need to apologise where they have gotten it wrong. In many cases, their customer service is appalling. They use dawn raids, work with the media for publicity, and wield extensive powers to make life difficult for those suspected of criminal activity. What the powerful, prominent and privileged have begun to experience is what the average person who is a suspect knows only too well–the police have a lot to learn about customer service for suspects and victims.[1] In some cases, the Commissioner has apologised personally to the cleared suspects or their families. However, is this enough?

If the Police will apologise for their failing, is the Queen exempt?

If the Police are to apologise for their failings, will the Crown apologise for its failings to the victims? Many people, especially the Queen’s supporters, will argue the Queen is not responsible. They can say it is someone else’s responsibility. She cannot possible know what has happened everywhere to children in care and vulnerable people in institutions over the past 60 years. If anyone is to apologise it is the managers and the people directly in charge.[2] Do these arguments bear scrutiny?

If the Crown is your legal parent, do they owe you an apology when abuse occurs?

For her entire reign, the last 60 years, the Crown has cared for children and vulnerable people. Looked After Children (LAC) are in the care of local authorities. Even if they are in the direct care of local authorities, these local authorities do not exist independently of the Crown.[3] The final responsibility for the execution of the laws within the country does not rests with Her Majesty’s Government. The final accountability rests with the Head of State.

A steady stream of stories yet the Crown was slow to react.

For the past 50 years, decade after decade, there have been institutional child abuse scandals. Neither the scale nor the scope of the problem has been publicly known despite the steady flow of news stories[4] that described institutional child sexual abuse[5] some of which mentioned prominent people and ministers.[6] Yet, we have to ask whether the Queen, as Head of State, was briefed on these scandals[7], especially those involving Crown institutions? If she was, what did she do. If she wasn’t why did she not take an interest in what was happening to the weakest and most vulnerable of the wards of the state?[8]

If the Queen is above politics, to whom is she accountable?

Who will hold the Queen to account or require her to explain what she did as Head of State?[9] After some events, such as the 7/7 attacks, the Queen has made public remarks.[10] If the MPS is to apologise, should the Queen apologise? Will it be a case where someone apologises on her behalf? Is it that the powerful, protected, and privileged receive a different response than the weak, vulnerable, and disadvantaged who suffered when the Crown failed to protect them?[11]

[1] As Chris Jefferies knows only too well. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-24104834 I have searched in vain for the commentators who decried Mr Jefferies suffering while it happened. It was so bad two newspapers were found in contempt of court for reporting information that could breach a prosecution. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Joanna_Yeates In particular, the police did not apologise until 2013 almost 2 years after clearing him and after he had been vilified in the press. http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2012/nov/24/christopher-jefferies-leveson-press-inquiry

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-28212710 When there was a rare inquiry it was done in private. In one case a QC concluded after the inquiry it was a well-run home.

“Many called for a public inquiry. The files show that the Home Office was not enthusiastic about this – and officials were relieved when the council decided to hold an inquiry in private, led by a QC, G W Guthrie Jones.

Guthrie Jones found that this was a “well-run home”, with high household standards, regularly inspected by the Home Office, as all such institutions were.”

[4] http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/13718811.CPS__Bishop_prosecution_was_overdue/?ref=rss

[5] Consider the horrific case of Medomsley detention centre in County Durham. Despite several complaints by former inmates to their local MP, he said there was nothing to their complaints. The first was in 1967, the next was in 1981 following the deaths of two inmates aged 17. At each stage, the MP Mr. Martin took the government’s response at face value. At each stage, the government reassured him that there was nothing to the allegations. What we now know is that there was a regime of brutality and abuse over decades so horrific that hardened police officers were shocked by it. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/mar/28/durham-police-uncover-paedophile-ring-500-potential-victims  For decades, the young inmates were beaten, brutalized and raped. When Neil Husband was active at Medomsley he raped and brutalized young men on a regular basis and it is now revealed a paedophile ring operated at the centre. Despite many investigations, his abuse was never discovered. Most telling when Mr. Leon Brittan visited in March 1985, as Home Secretary, he praised it for the positive impact it was having! http://www.jordanssolicitors.co.uk/child-abuse/2014/04/the-history-of-abuse-at-medomsley-detention-centre/ Whitelaw, Brittan, and Thatcher never apologised for the abuse that flourished for decades The Crown has never apologised to any of the victims. In fact, the legal settlements they received expressly stated they were not to receive an apology! “Those who were compensated hoped for an apology from the government, but the home secretary at the time, Jack Straw, told them “the terms of the agreement did not include an apology”.” http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/mar/28/durham-police-uncover-paedophile-ring-500-potential-victims

[6] The Queen lunched with Lord Bramall while he was under investigation. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/6880891/Queens-support-for-Lord-Bramall-during-child-abuse-probe-is-revealed.html I can find no reports that she has lunched with victims of institutional CSA.

[7] For example, did Margaret Thatcher brief the Queen on the threat to her government when Lord Armstrong suppressed a child abuse inquiry as it would threaten the government’s reputation? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3172796/Mandarin-t-help-economical-truth-Lord-Armstrong-centre-accusations-child-abuse-cover-up.html One has to pause to consider the moral character of such men that they would dismiss child abuse so easily and readily. It goes without saying that both men were knighted by the Queen.

[8] https://www.nspcc.org.uk/services-and-resources/research-and-resources/2014/keeping-children-safe-allegations-of-abuse/

[9] One has to note that the Pope, in 2014, has apologised for the Catholic Church’s failings regarding child sexual abuse. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-28189906

[10] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4665537.stm see also https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/7_July_2005_London_bombings#Royal_Family

[11] Are we in a situation where, like the 7/7 attacks, no one takes responsibility. Instead, they explain lessons would be learned. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4763097.stm As the article notes, “The twin reports into the London bombings of 7 July 2005 are marked by the characteristically British habit in these types of inquiries of listing a long series of failures and then not blaming anyone.” It then quotes the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report with the now classic Civil Service response: “We believe that lessons have been learned.”


About lawrence serewicz

An American living and working in the UK trying to understand the American idea and explain it to others. The views in this blog are my own for better or worse.
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