Danny Bryant abuse police officer kept youth club role

Danny Bryant
Image caption Danny Bryant was jailed for six-and-a-half years in November

A police officer continued to work with children at a force lifesaving club following accusations of child abuse, a BBC investigation has found.

Danny Bryant was jailed last November for abusing boys between 1974 and 1985, including at Devon and Cornwall Police Surf Life Saving Club.

One former club boss of Bryant said he was moved in 1988 to avoid contacting young people.

But records show Bryant worked at the club until it disbanded in 1993.

Derek Fisher, the former police boss of Bryant and the then secretary of the Devon and Cornwall Police Surf Life Saving Club, told BBC Inside Out South West that he took action to remove Bryant immediately from the club in 1988 after an accusation was brought to his attention.

He said Bryant "took no further part in that club from that time on".

However, BBC Inside Out has found evidence that Bryant was part of the club until 1993:

  • Devon and Cornwall Police correspondence in October 1989 showed Mr Fisher inviting Bryant to an award ceremony at the club
  • Further correspondence shows Bryant retained an organisational role in 1991
  • Minutes from 1992 show Bryant was listed as club captain
  • In the same year when Diana Princess of Wales opened the clubhouse, Bryant was part of the reception committee
  • In 1993, Bryant became the new chairman of Saunton Sands Surf Lifesaving Club after the original club was disbanded

Bryant also held a senior role with Surf Lifesaving GB until 2012 and in the previous year was awarded one of the sport's highest accolades: Knight in the Order of Lifesaving.

Surf Lifesaving GB was aware of an accusation of assault in 1993, but said it was only told of another case in October 2012.

The case has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Image caption Russel Dawson, who was 14 when the abuse began and has waived his right to anonymity, was assaulted at the surf life saving club where Bryant was the club captain

The family of one victim believes serving officers covered up the abuse. Devon and Cornwall Police has denied these claims.

Russel Dawson, who was 14 when the abuse began and has waived his right to anonymity, was assaulted at the lifesaving club in north Devon where Bryant was the club captain.

"I remember being on a beach the day after Danny Bryant had sexually abused me and just feeling rage and shame," he said.

Mr Dawson reported the attack, but following an investigation in 1988 Bryant was not prosecuted and later returned to work at the force.

The family attempted a private prosecution and requested the police files.

Mr Dawson's mother, Maureen Fay-Jenkins, said a policeman, who is not named, then made an unannounced visit to their house.

She claims the officer warned the family "the police barrister would rip Russel to pieces" and asked if they "really want to put him through that sort of ordeal".

Devon and Cornwall Police said it has no record of the visit.

Det Ch Insp Dave Thorne said: "Investigations then would have been approached in a very different way around victims of sexual abuse where there was one victim against one offender.

"The criminal justice system is more willing to accept a complaint of one victim against one offender."

'Truth wanted'

Mr Dawson said the evidence discovered by the BBC was "no surprise".

In 1993, five years after Russel's first complaint, a local newspaper reported that Bryant was being investigated for an alleged assault on another child.

Bryant was suspended the same year before taking early retirement on the grounds of ill health in 1994.

Surf Lifesaving GB told BBC Inside Out that in 1993 it was told in confidence by a serving police officer that Bryant was being investigated for an alleged assault on a child.

The organisation said Bryant was asked to stand down from his voluntary work as a surf lifesaving examiner, but when the investigation concluded that Bryant had no case to answer, he was reinstated.

In a statement, Surf Lifesaving GB said it had undertaken a review of its procedures.

It added that although Bryant pleaded guilty in August - and was jailed for six-and-a-half years - police have never formally informed the organisation about the allegations against him.

Mr Dawson said he "wanted the truth to be told, which isn't particularly easy or comfortable to tell, but that is what I'm after."

Mr Fisher declined to make any further comment.

Find out more on BBC Inside Out South West, BBC One on Monday at 19:30 GMT. The programme will also be available on the BBC iPlayer.

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