Abuse victim plans to sue Wirral Council

A woman who was the victim of a paedophile
ring headed by her stepfather plans to sue the council that failed
to act on her allegations of abuse.

Shy Keenan, who was abused and pimped by her
stepfather Stanley Claridge from the age of eight throughout the
1970s and 1980s and then approached social services about the abuse
of other children in 2000, is also calling for the resignation of
Wirral social services director Kevin Williams.

In an open letter, which she is due to deliver
to Number 10 this week, Keenan says social services “blamed me for
the abuse and treated the abuser like a victim”. She will urge
Prime Minister Tony Blair to order a public inquiry into the
council’s “astonishing failure to act, starting from the

The council has now launched a second part 8
review into Keenan’s childhood allegations, following the
sentencing of Claridge at Liverpool Crown Court last week to 15
years in prison for 19 offences, including buggery and rape. An
earlier part 8 review into allegations Keenan made in 2000 found
her concerns had not always been dealt with in a professional
manner and that her allegations had not been taken seriously.

During the 1970s and 1980s several family
members had informed social services about abuse and Claridge was
convicted of a sexual assault on Keenan in 1976, for which he
received three years’ probation.

In 2000, Keenan sent a tape of Claridge
confessing to abuse to Wirral social services but, after
interviewing 79 children, the council found no evidence.

Williams admitted that there had been “gaps”
in the way Keenan’s concerns were dealt with but rejected calls for
his resignation.

A joint year-long investigation by the police
and social services code-named Operation Phoenix was launched after
the transmission of a Newsnight report in November 2000, which
showed Claridge talking openly about the abuse.

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