ROTHERHAM Borough Council has defended paying more than £1 million to lawyers representing it in the face of claims from child sex abuse survivors — far more than has been paid out in compensation.
A response under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that law firm Forbes Solicitors have racked up costs of £1.15 million as of last month.
Just 12 of 81 cases have been settled so far and, while the council would not reveal the sums paid, solicitor David Greenwood, who is acting for almost all the survivors, said the total awarded by the council and South Yorkshire Police amounted to £662,000.
A borough council spokeswoman insisted the authority was not simply “defending” itself against claims.
“The Council has been clear throughout that all child sexual exploitation survivors who are entitled to compensation should receive this and we will meet all our obligations,” she said.
“However, each claim must be assessed individually and this can be a complex and time consuming process.
“The council has engaged external solicitors specifically to facilitate this process to ensure that it is conducted fairly across all claims.
“This is not a matter of ‘defending’ the council, but about making sure all claimants are treated equitably and without prejudice.
“At the present time only a relatively small number of claims have been settled, and because of this we cannot provide a running commentary that may inadvertently identify individuals, but we continue to work to ensure that others reach a satisfactory conclusion for all involved, most importantly survivors themselves.”
We want to continue holding local authorities to account, attending court and council meetings, as well as providing breaking news, competitions and offers – but it costs money. Online advertising does not cover costs, therefore we feel the need to ask for your help in ensuring we can provide the best possible coverage, online and in our printed products.
For as little as £1, you can support the Rotherham Advertiser – and it only takes a minute.
Click here to support local news.