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  • Writer's pictureCharlotte Denley

Sefton Council to Face Court Hearing Over Historic Abuse Claims

Sefton Borough Council could face trial in the civil courts over allegations of physical and sexual abuse at Formby High School between 1975 and 1992.

Court proceedings are going to be issued shortly by Andrew Grove & Co Solicitors in Cambridgeshire on behalf of a group of 57 former pupils who are suing the local authority for the abuse they suffered at the hands of the former Head of Lower School Ian Farquharson.

Mr Farquarson died of carbon monoxide poisoning in May 1992. It is believed he left the school premises and drove to North Wales, where he killed himself by attaching a hose to his car exhaust, just hours after a complaint was made about him to the then headmaster.

One of the claimants Jason Ryan, who has waived his right to anonymity in the hope that it will encourage more survivors to come forward, was seriously sexually abused by Mr Farquharson between 1988 and his death in 1992.

He said: “That man ruined my life, physically and emotionally. Every day I am in physical pain which reminds me of the abuse I suffered at his hands. I wasn’t a bad kid at school although I needed a bit of extra help with reading and writing. That man used that as an excuse to get me into his office and keep me there for hours while he used to abuse me.

“I was too embarrassed and scared to tell anyone what he was doing to me. I thought that if I said anything the abuse would get even worse. It was common knowledge in the school that complaints about Mr Farquharson sexually abusing boys had been made years before, and although the case had gone to trial, he had got off with it. If he had got off with it once before then I was sure that he was untouchable.

“I just suffered in silence, and I have suffered through all the years since. It was only two years ago that my deteriorating mental health forced me to confront my demons and I contacted an old school friend who I knew had also been abused by Mr Farquharson.

“My friend had been to the police and tried to get help without success. After making enquiries we found a firm of solicitors (Andrew Grove & Co Solicitors) who would take on our case and try to get some redress for us and I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders.

“I knew that there must be a lot of Farquharson victims out there and so it has proved with our group now numbering 57. However, the attitude of Sefton Borough Council has left me in despair. I really believed that they would have some compassion for everything that we all suffered at that time and since. The reality is that they do not care at all.

“My solicitors say that we have to issue court proceedings and I will be glad to have my day in court - I am sure that many of the other claimants will feel the same. At the time the abuse was going on and at the time Mr Farquharson killed himself no-one at the school or local authority cared about his victims, and they still don’t care.”

Katherine Yates from Andrew Grove & Co Solicitors said: “Jason is really suffering at the moment, and we are doing all we can to try and move the civil process along.

“Although we will shortly be issuing court proceedings, it is not too late to join the civil claim, and as it’s being funded on a no win, no fee basis, it won’t cost you a penny up front.”

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