Children’s-home review comes in for criticism

01 January 2016

GEOFF CRAWFORD

Free support: the Rt Revd James Langstaff

Free support: the Rt Revd James Langstaff

AN INDEPENDENT review of a children’s home run by the Church of England has stalled, a former resident has said.

The review of Kendall House, in Gravesend, was announced in January by the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff (News, 16 January). The diocese had earlier refused to conduct an internal investigation, saying in 2009 that it would be "inappropriate".

In 2010, the Church reached an out-of-court financial settlement with Teresa Cooper, who arrived at Kendall House, aged 14, in 1981. A forensic examination of her files, broadcast by BBC Radio 4 in 2009, found that, over the course of 32 months, she had been drugged at least 1248 times. The Church has not admitted liability.

In October, Ms Cooper told the BBC that she feared the review had stalled: "I feel that they are not taking it seriously and we [the victims] have basically been pushed and shoved on a pile and left."

The MP Tim Loughton, a former Children’s Minister, told the BBC that he would have expected the Church to have set the terms of reference and a panel by now: "That should have been done months ago, and the victims should have been informed all the way through."

A statement from the diocese of Rochester, issued in October and with no change since, said that the Bishop’s "genuine concern is that any review be conducted thoroughly and properly rather than in haste".

It continued: "[The Bishop] urges everyone with experience of Kendall House to take part in the review."

The statement also said that the Bishop had set up a free support line for ex-residents of Kendall House (0845 120 4634); and that people who wished to participate in the review could contact it at
kendallreview@rochester.anglican.org.

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