Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Abused children 'refused compensation' over consent

Sammy Woodhouse
Image caption Sammy Woodhouse was abused by the leader of a child grooming gang in Rotherham, South Yorkshire

A woman sexually abused as a child by a grooming gang leader was told by a government body she "consented" to it.

Sammy Woodhouse was initially denied compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) which said she was not "manipulated".

A Freedom of Information request revealed she is one of nearly 700 child victims of sexual abuse, including grooming, to be refused payments.

CICA is now reviewing its guidelines, the government has confirmed.

More on this story and others from across Yorkshire.

Ms Woodhouse, who waived her anonymity in an effort to help others, was 14 when she met 24-year-old Arshid Hussain, who was jailed in 2016.

Hussain, known as Mad Ash around Rotherham, South Yorkshire, was one of three brothers behind the grooming and sexual abuse of more than 50 girls including Ms Woodhouse.

Image caption Lawyer David Greenwood said for a child to consent was "just not legally possible"

He was jailed for 35 years for 23 offences including indecent assault and rape.

CICA had originally refused compensation in Ms Woodhouse's case, stating in its response: "I am not satisfied that your consent was falsely given as a result of being groomed by the offender.

"The evidence does not indicate that you were manipulated or progressively lured into a false relationship."

When Ms Woodhouse later appealed against the decision she was offered a small settlement, which was eventually altered and she was awarded the maximum amount she qualified for.

She said: "If an adult can privately think that it's a child's fault for being abused, beaten, raped, abducted, I think you're in the wrong job."

Image copyright AP
Image caption (l-r) Arshid, Basharat and Bannaras Hussain have been convicted of grooming and sexually abusing young girls in Rotherham

David Greenwood, her solicitor, said: "I am utterly shocked by the notion that decision-makers in a government organisation can consider that 14 or 15-year-old girls can consent to sex with adults.

"They decided she must have consented when it's just not legally possible."

'Urgent re-examination'

A coalition of charities, including Barnardos, Victim Support and Liberty, revealed this summer that since the CICA scheme was launched in November 2012 nearly 700 child victims of sexual abuse had been refused payments, ranging between £1,000 and £44,000.

The BBC asked CICA for their response. They referred us to a statement made in the House of Commons by Secretary of State for Justice, David Liddington MP.

He said: "CICA has decided to mount an urgent re-examination of its own internal guidelines, in particular to make sure that there is no risk that a child could be disqualified from compensation because they had been groomed."

You can see this story in full on BBC Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire at 19:30 BST on BBC One on Monday 11 September, or via iPlayer for 30 days afterwards.

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