Chester branch of Campaign for Homosexual Equality (16.2.00)

Extract from Chapter 52 of Lost in Care, 16th February 2000

The Campaign for Homosexual Equality

52.71 Some former officers and members of this organisation were amongst the “other men” referred to by B, some of whom were from the Wrexham area. It is a national organisation but we refer only to its Chester branch, which was set up in or about 1973, and nothing that we say in this report about “CHE” carries any imputation against the wider organisation.

52.72 The evidence that we heard about CHE relates to the first eight years or so of its
existence and we were told by one founding member that it has not existed since the 1980s. It
established an office in the Bridge Street Rows and a “help line” telephone; and a witness claimed that, at one time, it had the largest membership (300) of any branch in the country. Former officers of CHE in this period and some others closely involved with it said that the organisation, including the help line, was strictly controlled and that anyone who sought to use it as a means of “picking up” underage boys was immediately proscribed. A small number of witnesses, on the other hand, voiced strong criticism of CHE. Cooke, for example, described it in his evidence as “the most vile organisation ever thought of” and told Dean Nelson that the whole of CHE was a “pick up thing”. He alleged that he threatened one of the “other men”, who was a committee member of CHE, and had a physical confrontation with him because he used it to abuse a young man called David. Another Wrexham witness said that he walked away from the organisation because it was being abused by those who wanted to have sexual relations with youngsters.

52.73 We heard some linked evidence also about clubs in Chester frequented by members of the gay community from time to time during the same period. The particular relevance of these clubs was that B alleged that he was taken along by Cooke to CHE and to the clubs, where he was introduced to several paedophiles. This led in turn to invitations to gay parties and, in at least one instance, to an invitation to stay in Cheshire.

52.74 B’s evidence to the Tribunal about the circumstances in which he went to live in a bungalow at Mickle Trafford in Cheshire owned by a member of CHE was that the accommodation was arranged for him by social services and that he was taken there by his social worker. He added that everyone in the care system, including every member of the
staff that he had mentioned in his evidence up to that point, assumed that he was gay (“queer”) and that that was how he was treated. On his arrival at the bungalow he was sat down in the lounge and the social worker actually gave him a copy of a newspaper called Gay News to read, saying “I suggest you read that: that might help you”. B went on to say that, during his stay at the bungalow, he suffered sexual abuse involving oral and anal sex from five of the
named “other men” and two other partly identified men. The abuse occurred mainly at the bungalow and B referred to a big party there one night, which he described as an “orgy”, but he was also taken to two of the abusers’ own homes and oral sex also occurred in a motor car.

52.75 A preliminary difficulty about these allegations is that B did allege (for example, in his statement to the police on 8 February 1993) that he went to the Mickle Trafford bungalow after leaving Neath Farm School in December 1980, which was six months after the relevant social worker left the employ of Clwyd County Council. It is now clear from the documents and, in particular, the detailed typed record kept by the social worker, that B went to stay at the
bungalow on 4 January 1980. The social worker’s record covers the full period from 2 August 1977, when he “received the case”, to 6 June 1980; and we have seen also a copy of the statutory review of B in or about February 1980.

52.76 We are satisfied from the documents and the social worker’s evidence that social services staff were concerned about B from August 1979 (at the latest) onwards because they thought that B was in moral danger. On 7 December 1979 B was collected by the social worker on his discharge from Foston Hall Detention Centre and taken to an After
Care hostel in Watergate Street, Chester, where accommodation had been arranged for him; and he obtained employment as a commis chef at Chester Steakhouse, beginning on 18 December 1979, which his social worker had helped to arrange. However, he left the hostel on or about 4 January 1980 and reported to his social worker four days later that he had moved to the Mickle Trafford bungalow, where he was visited by the social worker on 14 January 1980.

52.77 B was admitted to Chester City hospital on 26 January 1980 following an “overdose”, where he was visited by the social worker on 28 January 1980. B would not discuss the reasons for his overdose. On the latter date he was discharged, after being referred to the psychiatric out-patient clinic at Chester Royal Infirmary. The review stated that this was for “treatment to help him accept his possible homosexual nature”.

52.78 It seems that B obtained lodgings in Acrefair, near Wrexham, on his discharge from hospital but a report by a senior social worker in the Delyn Area team for Mold Crown Court in September 1980 stated: “From this point (that is, his discharge from hospital) B started an almost nomadic existence, moving from one lodging to another in Chester, Wrexham, Rhyl and Flint areas, often staying for just a few days, and making repeated appeals to his Social Worker for help in finding accommodation and for money to pay for lodgings. It was very difficult to keep track of his movements and to find him accommodation. B consistently refused offers to return to residential care and would not co-operate in the efforts that were made to establish him in a stable job and accommodation. He made extreme demands on the time and energies of his Social Worker and other social services staff.”

52.79 In the light of this evidence we are satisfied that B’s allegation that his social worker arranged for him to stay at the Mickle Trafford bungalow is incorrect. We have no difficulty in accepting, however, that he was subjected to sexual abuse repeatedly by several persons during his stay there, despite the denials of those whom he named as his abusers. It is clear also, in our view, that that abuse was, at least, a major cause of the overdose that he took on 26 January 1980.

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