Author Topic: UK: Possible sexual abuse linked to Methodist minister Flowers  (Read 3341 times)

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Offline Oscar

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UK: Possible sexual abuse linked to Methodist minister Flowers
« on: December 01, 2013, 02:43:51 PM »
Quote from: The Daily Mail
Crystal Methodist in link to school described as 'sweet shop for paedophiles' as plans for Amsterdam holiday with male prostitutes is revealed
By NICK CRAVEN, ROSS SLATER and BEN ELLERY, The Daily Mail, November 30, 2013

Shamed Co-op Bank boss Paul Flowers was linked to a special school at the centre of one of Britain’s worst child sex abuse scandals, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.
Methodist minister Flowers was vice-chairman of Rochdale Council’s social services committee which oversaw Knowl View School, during a time when it was described as a ‘sweet shop for paedophiles’.

Yet a series of damning reports – at least one sent to Flowers – about the crimes at Knowl View were hidden from the public.

The residential unit for boys  aged seven to 16 with learning and behavioural problems is now subject to a police investigation into the sexual and physical abuse of former pupils.

Meanwhile Rochdale Council is conducting its own inquiry into Flowers’s years as a councillor in the light of his drug-taking, exposed by The Mail on Sunday last month.

The Knowl View scandal broke last year after the Crown Prosecution Service accepted that the school’s founder, the late Liberal MP Cyril Smith, who knew Flowers through the council, should have been prosecuted for child abuse.

The school, founded in 1969, eventually closed in 1995, after a member of staff alerted council bosses to ongoing problems.

Yet alarm bells were being rung constantly by health professionals from 1988 to 1992 when Flowers held key council posts.

Whistleblower Martin Digan, whose appointment as the school’s head of care heralded its closure, said: ‘Flowers was one of many people in power in Rochdale who knew what was happening and yet did not act to close the school down.

He was vice-chair of the social services committee in 1991 when the first of three reports was circulated internally about the risk to pupils in terms of sexual and physical abuse.

He knew what the parents of pupils were never told – that the school was basically a sweet shop for paedophiles.’

The current storm surrounding 63-year-old Flowers’s shocking drugs habit prompted his arrest by police on suspicion of supplying Class A drugs, including cocaine and crystal meth.

The Treasury is holding an inquiry into the Co-op Bank, where he was chairman until his resignation in June, and the bank has launched its own internal review.

Flowers was suspended by the Labour Party and the Methodist Church for which he was a minister in Bradford.

By the time Flowers moved to Rochdale in September 1986 to take over the Methodist church at Champness Hall in Drake Street, he was already a controversial figure.

In 1981 while ministering in Southampton, he was fined £75 for ‘gross indecency’ in a public toilet with a trucker and was moved to West Bromwich by the church.

Four years later, he was chosen as a Labour prospective parliamentary candidate for Meriden, in the West Midlands, but he resigned three months later when his criminal record surfaced.

Once in Rochdale, Flowers, an ardent Labour supporter, was elected to the council in 1988 and joined its education and social services committees. In 1988 Dr Alison Frazer, a child psychiatrist at the town’s Birch Hill Hospital, first alerted the council to possible sexual abuse at Knowl View.

Three years later, Phil Shepherd, of the Rochdale Health Authority Aids Unit, was asked to go to the school to carry out a ‘sexuality’ training day with staff.

His discoveries, penned in a report to council bosses, were shocking: ‘One boy who is homosexual has contact with an adult outside the school. Several of the senior boys indulge in oral sex with one another.

‘Reputedly five of the junior  boys have been or are involved in “cottaging” in and around public toilets. Men as far away as Sheffield are believed to be aware of this activity and travel to Rochdale to take part.

One eight year old is thought to have been involved .  .  . some boys have been “forced” to have sex with each other.’ He concluded: ‘We are committed to preventing the spread of HIV. The boys in this school look  to us to be increasingly at risk.’

One former pupil, Chris Marshall, now 41 but aged seven when at the school, told the MoS: ‘Our lives were a living hell. Teachers would take pupils to a public toilet in Manchester where the boys would have sex with men who had travelled from all over the North.

Men would come to the school and we were made to have sex with them. I was forced to perform a sex act on the late MP Cyril Smith who we called the Fat Man.

‘It had such an effect on us that some of the boys have either committed suicide or are in prison.

‘I feel let down by the council because we were vulnerable children and they were supposed to be taking care of us but instead we were exposed to the most horrible acts of depravity.’

The Mail on Sunday has seen a letter, dated April 16, 1991, concerning this report from the Director of Social Services to the local health authority, copied to Flowers among others.

By then, Flowers and his colleagues on Rochdale social services committee were already facing calls to resign over the Satanic abuse scandal when 16 children were wrongly taken from their parents and rehomed, some in Knowl View.

Last week, Rochdale Council announced an inquiry into his time at the authority. A spokesman said: ‘We have nothing to hide and want to move on from the past.

It was a dreadful period and unfortunately Rev Flowers was around at the time, although whether he was calling any shots is another matter.’

There is no suggestion that Flowers was in any way involved in criminal activity at Knowl View.

However, Flowers had been going through a turbulent time.

In October 1990, he suffered a suspected heart attack a day after his car was stolen and his house burgled. The following month, he was forced to come out as gay after his gross indecency conviction came to light.

Last night, the MoS put the Rev Flowers’s link to Knowl View School as well as the latest text message revelations to his lawyer.
Solicitor Andy Hollas said: ‘I can make no comment whatsoever. It would be in everybody’s interests  if the spotlight was turned off to let the police make their inquiries.’

Fornits Wiki record: Knowl View School
« Last Edit: December 01, 2013, 03:01:02 PM by Oscar »