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Isle of Man Government apologises for historical mistakes that contributed to abuse

Ministers on the island have apologised for historical mistakes that contributed to children being abused at a residential home in the 1970s and 80s.

17/01/23

Isle of Man Government apologises for historical mistakes that contributed to abuse

The Isle of Man Council of Ministers said it is “deeply sorry” for the mistakes that contributed to historic child abuse at the Knottfield children’s home.

The apology is made in the Government’s response to a report on the abuse by Tynwald’s Social Affairs Policy Review Committee (SAPRC).

“The Council of Ministers read this report with sincere sorrow and regret and is deeply sorry for the mistakes that were made which contributed to the suffering and the lifelong impact of these traumatic experiences,” Chief Minister Alfred Cannan MHK said setting out the report.

“Whilst we cannot undo the past, we are committed to doing everything we can to provide support to those affected by this terrible betrayal of trust.”

In the report, the Council said it is currently committed to early intervention and a multi-agency approach to support and protect children and all victims of abuse but acknowledged that “historically this has not always been successful, and regrets the suffering, harm and abuse suffered by the children at Knottfield.”

Joseph Marshall, a senior staff member at the children’s home, was jailed last year after being found guilty of five offences relating to the abuse of two boys between 1974 and 1982.

The report and its findings were originally published in October 2018 but were withdrawn while a criminal investigation and legal proceedings took place.

Following the conclusion of legal proceedings, the Isle of Man Government’s response to the 2018 report is now able to be published.

The 2018 report found that vulnerable children suffered horrific abuse of many forms whilst they were residents of Knottfield. In addition, it found that they were failed by authorities.

The SAPRC made 11 recommendations to Government to improve the protection of children in care and the support available for survivors of abuse. All 11 of the recommendations are supported by the Government, with the Council of Ministers providing a commentary outlining action already taken and future plans.

The SAPRC’s report and the Council of Ministers’ response will go before Tynwald at its February sitting with Members asked to vote to approve the report’s 11 recommendations.

The Chief Minister went on to pay tribute to the bravery of victims in coming forward and giving evidence.

“We cannot underestimate the suffering that has been inflicted on the survivors and their families, and greatly appreciate their bravery in giving evidence. The report was distressing to read and must have been extremely traumatising to relive.

“We also pay tribute to those victims who are no longer with us and whose trauma and bravery will not be forgotten.”

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