The Overview report following the Serious Case Review (SCR), which was commissioned by North Somerset Safeguarding Children Board (NSSCB) after the arrest of Nigel Leat in December 2010, has now been published.
Nigel Leat, a teacher at Hillside First School in Weston Super Mare, admitted 36 offences, including attempted rape of a child and sexual assault on children, has now been jailed indefinitely. He was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court in May 2011.
The report confirms that despite the fact the school did have procedures in place to protect the children, these were not being properly implemented and the school failed on a number of occasions to take action despite warnings. Leat had been a teacher at the school since September 1995 and concerns had been raised about his inappropriate behaviour as early as 1996. He was seen touching, cuddling and even kissing pupils, and each year he selected a “star” pupil on whom he would lavish attention. The SCR reveals that Leat’s behaviour was so well known that staff tried to prevent children who were likely to become his “star” pupils from being put in his class.
There were at least 30 incidents raised by the staff at the Hillside School but these were not reported to the Education Authorities or the police. Head teacher, Chris Hood, only reprimanded Leat on one occasion, despite the fact that in 2004 a mum claimed that Leat had taken photographs of his daughter on a mobile phone and in 2008 two children reported that Leat had been touching their legs and kissing one of them. Rules and procedures in place to protect children were also found to have been ignored. Mr Hood, was dismissed in December 2011 once the full extent of his failings became known.
Remarkably three OFSTEAD inspections were carried out during the time Leat was abusing the pupils and graded the school as `good’.
We are already acting for a number of children who were victims of Nigel Leat. We specialise in abuse claims for children and adults and are recognised in the prestigious Legal 500 for our expertise. We have secured several victims the highest possible award payable by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (£500,000) and have brought civil claims on behalf of abuse victims and won them compensation in excess of £100,000.
Abuse specialist Rachel Thain explains:
“There are two options available for the Leat victims should they wish to claim compensation. The main claim is a civil case against North Somerset Local Education Authority for their obvious failings in stopping this predatory and dangerous paedophile some 15 years ago when they first had the chance. The second option is to claim via the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). This is a government run scheme designed to compensate victims of crimes of violence. My view is that where there is an insured Defendant to pursue (such as the local authority in this case) then a civil claim is the far better approach. This is because compensation can be claimed for a wide range of loss, including payments to parents for the care provided to their child. Also in a civil claim, if damages for pain and suffering exceed the small claims limit of £1,000, the Defendants will be liable to pay legal costs.”
We would urge people to seek legal advice as soon as possible. There are time limits in which you must bring a claim so its best not to take chances.
The Serious Crime Review reveals that over 730 individuals were spoken to in relation to the criminal investigation. These included families of the children, teachers and also Leat’s own family.
If you have been affected by this scandal please us on freephone 0808 139 1597, or via the contact form on the website.