A Teesside MP has pledged to support a legal campaign launched by law students to secure fair compensation for all victims of sexual abuse.
Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald is backing a landmark legal challenge by Teesside Law Clinic, based in Teesside University's School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Law, which aims to overturn what is commonly known as the ‘same roof rule’ to secure fair pay-outs for victims of historic sexual abuse.
Compensation is currently not paid to victims if a criminal injury was sustained before 1 October 1979 and, at the time of the incident, the victim and perpetrator were living together as members of the same family.
The ‘same roof rule’, as it has become known, was designed to prevent the assailant benefiting from any compensation awarded. Although abolished on 1 October 1979, victims abused before that date are currently not entitled to claim compensation retrospectively.
The campaign, launched by Teesside Law Clinic to ensure all victims of sexual abuse are able to secure pair compensation, has received support from charities such as Victim Support, Women Against Rape, Liberty and further from the Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger and other MPs.
Senior Law lecturer Andrew Perriman, who runs Teesside University Law Clinic, has been working tirelessly with the students to raise awareness of the campaign, with a petition calling for abolition of the ‘same roof’ rule continuing to gather momentum and support.
Earlier this year Teesside Law Clinic was recognised with a Northern Law Awards’ Pro Bono/Community Initiative award and a further accolade in the LawWorks & Attorney General's Student Pro Bono Awards, both as a result of the Law Clinic students’ dedication and commitment to the community, with the judges noting the work on behalf of victims of historic sexual abuse.
Andrew said: “Launching the legal challenge was the first step in a long journey to secure compensation for victims of historic sexual abuse. Teesside Law Clinic is dealing with a number of cases and is currently challenging the ‘same roof’ rule in the Court of Appeal on behalf of one our clients.
“Very rarely does an opportunity arise when lawyers have an opportunity to challenge the law and the fact that students at Teesside University Law Clinic are fighting for such an important change is hugely significant.”
Middlesbrough Labour MP Andy McDonald said: “It is incredible that anyone who suffered sexual abuse in the home, carried out by a family member living under the same roof, cannot claim compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme simply because the offence took place before 1October 1979.”
He added: “Victims I have been made aware of feel worthless and punished twice for the trauma they have been through. The ‘same roof’ rule discriminates against blameless victims of historical sexual abuse and it needs to be scrapped.”
The MP has pledged to raise awareness of the issue with Parliamentary colleagues and is hopeful that the issue could warrant an inquiry by the Justice Select Committee.