Derby

Aston Hall: Hospital abuse victims in compensation deal

Dr Kenneth Milner
Image caption Dr Kenneth Milner ran the hospital for nearly 40 years and died in 1975

Former residents of a hospital who were subjected to unauthorised drug treatment are to get compensation.

More than 100 people have come forward with allegations of physical and sexual abuse at Aston Hall, Derbyshire, in the 1960s and 1970s.

The claims centre on Dr Kenneth Milner and his use of a "truth drug" therapy.

Solicitors acting for some of the victims said a settlement of at least £8,000 each had been agreed with the Department of Health.

Image copyright Nottingham City Council/Picturethepast.org
Image caption Many buildings at Aston Hall, including those pictured, have been demolished

Aston Hall, in a number of guises, was a hospital for people, both children and adults, with behavioural issues from 1926 until 2004.

Allegations first emerged in 2011 but more former patients came forward in 2016 and Derbyshire police launched an investigation.

More than 130 people have been interviewed as part of the inquiry.

Police said they had recorded 33 physical assault and 40 sexual assault allegations.

An independent report in 2018 found children were allegedly given a "truth drug", stripped, abused and put in straitjackets.

Image copyright Eli Lilly and Company
Image caption Sodium amytal, a so-called truth serum, was used to release traumatic memories in soldiers

Sodium Amytal was given to shell-shocked soldiers in World War Two to release repressed memories but it was never approved for use on children.

The report also noted the use of straitjackets and Dr Milner's patchy record keeping; both were against standard practice.

Police said Dr Milner, who ran the hospital from 1947 to the 1970s and died in 1975, would have been questioned over rape and cruelty claims if he were still alive.

Other staff members accused of physical abuse have either been eliminated from the inquiry or have died. Some could not be identified.

Image copyright Project Mayhem
Image caption Before demolition, Aston Hall was a favourite of derelict house explorers

Solicitor Dianne Collins, from law firm Nelsons, said they represented about 50 former patients.

"What happened to those children at Aston Hall in the 1960s and 70s is appalling.

"Sadly, at the time, there were no safeguarding procedures in place to stop it from happening. Moreover, if these very vulnerable, young people tried to tell anyone what had happened to them, they were not believed.

"However, thanks to the many survivors who found the courage to come forward, they now have been given the justice they deserve," she said.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "This is an important milestone for everyone who was affected by these terrible events and we hope that all claims can be resolved as soon as possible."

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