Scope admits deceit over abuse home

Disability charity Scope has admitted social services and police
were kept in the dark for two years about child abuse allegations
at one of its residential schools.

In March 1993 complaints of physical and verbal abuse of 16
disabled children spanning ten years to 1993 were lodged by staff
at Hawksworth Hall School in Guiseley, Leeds, against a female

After an internal investigation and disciplinary hearing in
March 1993, the worker was dismissed for mistreating children. But
when parents and governors asked the head and a Scope education
officer about the dismissal, they were assured there had been no

In September 1994 Leeds social services department wrote to the
school about the dismissal. A principal education advisor replied
saying the allegations were unfounded. All three no longer work for

But in March 1994, Kevin O’Toole, a governor at Hawksworth whose
daughter attended the school, complained about the headteacher’s

An external investigator was appointed by Scope. The head was
suspended during the investigation, and resigned on its completion
in March 1995. Scope then referred the allegations of abuse to the
West Yorkshire police. The Crown Prosecution Service has ruled out

Richard Brewster, Scope’s chief executive, said the incident was
deplorable, and he was disappointed by the CPS’ decision. ‘There
was a breach of trust and we effectively failed in this case.

‘We regret what has happened – we apologise unreservedly to all
those concerned. It is clear there were serious management
failings,’ he said.

Scope has appointed a new headteacher, tightened up practices
and revised abuse procedures, he added. It has also changed the
senior management structure of its education services and reporting

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