Litigation guardian sparks belated inquiry

  • Suspended in 2018: Alfred Maybury, the director of the Department of Child and Family Services (File photograph)

    Suspended in 2018: Alfred Maybury, the director of the Department of Child and Family Services (File photograph)

An at-risk teenager’s allegations that he suffered physical abuse at the hands of a male employee at a boys’ home were investigated only after his litigation guardian read his file.

An inquiry into the abuse claims at the Devonshire home was launched last summer by the former ministry of social development and sport after whistleblower Tiffanne Thomas, an independent social worker acting as a court-appointed spokesman for the boy, raised concerns about four Department of Child and Family Services staff members accused of the mistreatment of children in care.

The investigation also looked into whether Alfred Maybury, the director of the DCFS, ignored the accusations made against the four employees.

A separate inquiry was conducted by the Department of Internal Audit into allegations that Mr Maybury had failed to follow financial instructions.

Mr Maybury was suspended in August 2018 and returned in January this year after the Government announced that a “thorough investigation” had found the claims against him were “not substantiated”.

The Royal Gazette revealed that two of the DCFS staff members were disciplined after allegations of abuse and neglect against them were “substantiated”.

Neither employee was reported to the police and a statement from a government spokeswoman suggested they were allowed to return to work with vulnerable children, although under supervision.

The findings on the other two DCFS employees, one of whom is understood to be the male employee accused of mistreatment of the boy, have not been made public.

The Government has refused to release the results of its two inquiries in response to a public access to information request.

The rejection of the requests is being reviewed by the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Saul Dismont, the lawyer for the boy whose allegations were uncovered by Ms Thomas, referred to as “BC” to protect his identity, said he was never interviewed by investigators.

Mr Dismont added that he was aware of five other children who had made complaints about department staff.

He said: “I’m not aware of any of those children having been spoken to or interviewed.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Legal Affairs, now responsible for the DCFS after a Cabinet shuffle late last year, insisted a “full and thorough investigation was carried out”, but declined to discuss if any children were interviewed.

The launch of last summer’s inquiry was first reported by the Politica news website.

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Published Dec 13, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 13, 2019 at 11:56 am)

Litigation guardian sparks belated inquiry

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