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12 October 2017

Liverpool Echo Praised For Social Services Investigation

The Liverpool Echo has been praised in the House of Lords for a long running investigation which revealed the neglect and sexual abuse suffered by a child placed into care in Liverpool during the 1960s.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Storey highlighted the tragic story during a Lords debate on the Data Protection Bill earlier this week as an example of the difficulty people used to have getting access to personal data held by public bodies.  

He spoke of the role of the Liverpool Echo in exposing the appalling standards in care services at the time which led to significant changes in social services across the country.  

Speaking about the man’s bid to find out what had happened to him during his time in various Liverpool care institutions as a child, Lord Storey said: “He tried to understand what had happened to him, the family circumstances and the family connections — his back story, if you like. He was prevented from seeing his social services file but managed somehow to purloin it. In those confidential papers he found out about the secrets of his shocking life in care.

“Three remarkable people stand out in the Graham Gaskin story: the local solicitor, Mr Rex Makin, who represented Graham and fought to get justice for him; a local journalist, Mr Ian Craig, who spent months checking and cross-checking the details and wrote a series of devastating articles about what had happened to Graham in the Liverpool Echo; and the chair of the social services committee, Mr Paul Clark, who struggled against the legal system to allow his officers to open up the file and had a fiat, which I am told is a type of injunction, issued against him, preventing him releasing those files.

“In November 1981, the noble Lord, Lord Alton, then my honourable friend and MP for the Edge Hill constituency in Liverpool, spoke in the Commons about the Graham Gaskin case. He said: ‘Graham Gaskin is just another name still locked away in a filing cabinet … I hope that encouragement will be given to local authorities to humanise their services so that the tragedy of Graham Gaskin's lost youth will never happen again.’”