12 January 2021 | Comment | Article by Alan Collins
Many victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland are not accessing help with the compensation redress scheme when perhaps they should, according to leading abuse lawyer, Alan Collins – the Solicitor who has acted in many high-profile cases, including the Jimmy Savile and Haut de la Garenne abuse scandals.
His comments follow the news that Martin Adams, the campaigner for victims of institutional abuse in Northern Ireland, has resigned as Chairman of the campaign group, Survivors Together, saying many victims have lost all faith in the redress board.
Speaking to The Belfast Telegraph, Martin Adams, said many victims of historical abuse have been offered the lowest band of payments of £10,000. He said: “Being so vulnerable and mentally unwell, they take the offer because it could take up to a year for an appeal.” He added that many victims feel they are “on trial to prove their innocence”, which is not what they signed up to.
Responding to this news, Head of the Hugh James abuse team, Alan Collins, said today:
‘The Northern Ireland scheme is comparatively generous when compared like-for-like with other redress schemes. Unfortunately, the problem is that many victims do not seek access to help where they should.
The scheme states that payment will be made based on the applicant’s statement, including the nature and extent of the abuse that the person was subjected to - and the ongoing impact to the applicant’s life.
Given the statement is essential, it really is worth people contacting a solicitor to help. There are no legal costs should anyone choose a Solicitor to help with the application and it can make all the difference in delivering some very belated justice and support which is often badly needed.”
Alan Collins, who is one of the best-known solicitors in the field of child abuse litigation, added that the benefits of instructing a solicitor is that they will talk with a victim to obtain all the details, which will be used to draft for the application. “This will include all the relevant information to support the highest valuation of the claim. We also assist in submitting and progressing the case and will value the claim to confirm if a fair settlement is offered. And we will help with the appeal too, if we don’t believe the offer of settlement takes all relevant evidence into account.”