Knottfield Inquiry Isle of Man – Standing Committee Report 3 May 2018

Unfortunately I have not been able to keep up with events and proceedings in the Knottfield Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry in the Isle of Man. However I have been told by inquiry clerk that:

In December 2017 the Chairman announced that Part 1 of the inquiry (historic reports) was suspended.

In February 2018 an oral hearing was held in relation to Part 2 (current procedures)

In March 2018 another oral hearing was held in relation to Part 2 (current procedures)

Also in March 2018 the suspension of Part 1 was lifted. The Chairman explained this in a statement in April 2018. (and scroll down to line 2640)

On 3 May 2018 an oral hearing was held in relation to Part 1 (historic reports). The audio for this hearing is available. The Hansard is currently available for the first two witnesses, while the third is in preparation and will be uploaded in the next few days all being well.

Further oral hearings are planned for Friday 18 May and Monday 21 May at which the Chief Constable and the Attorney General will appear.

Some documents are or will  be published here (and choose “Child abuse”)

I have copied below the transcript of the 3 May oral hearing in word format so that it can be more easily read on the blog, but due to time constraints will save my analysis for later. However Adrian Derbyshire writes about the Betrayal of Knottfield’s children in the IOM Today.  [1]

Residents of a former children’s home at the centre of historical sex abuse allegations say victims have been ignored.

They bravely agreed to give evidence in public to the Tynwald scrutiny committee which is investigating claims of child abuse at the former Knottfield home in Douglas, which closed in 1983.

One said they were giving evidence on behalf of two friends, fellow former Knottfield residents, who had taken their own lives. One of those took their own life since the inquiry began.

Last month it was announced that the director of prosecutions has decided that no further action be taken, apparently due to the age and health of the suspect, who is now in his 80s.

That’s a decision which has incensed former residents who say they were abused at Knottfield.

For more of this article from Adrian Derbyshire please go to this link [1]

The Knottfield children’s home which closed in 1983. Image: Manx National Heritage


My previous posts on the Isle of Man Child Abuse –

2015 May 25 Cathy Fox Blog Child Sexual Abuse in the Isle of Man [3]

2015 May 25  Cathy Fox Blog 10 Steps on How to Research Child Sexual Abuse in your area – A Rough Guide Uses IOM as an example [5] 

2016 Feb 15 Cathy Fox Blog IOM Child Sexual Abuse Update Feb 2016 [4] 

2016 Feb 16 Cathy Fox Blog  Isle of Man: Counselling for Victims / Survivors [2]

2017 Aug 3 Cathy Fox Blog Isle of Man Knottfield Child Sexual Abuse Investigation Aug 2017 [8]

2017 Aug 11 cathy fox blog Isle of Man – Paedophile Paradise for downloading child abuse pictures [7] 

2017 Oct 13 cathy fox blog Submissions to the Investigation into Knottfield Childrens Home, Isle of Man [6] 











Historical Child Abuse


Douglas, Thursday, 3rd May 2018

PP2018/0082 SAPRC-HCA, No. 1/2017-18

All published Official Reports can be found on the Tynwald website:

Published by the Office of the Clerk of Tynwald, Legislative Buildings,
Finch Road, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 3PW. © High Court of Tynwald, 2018


Members Present:

Chairman: Mr D C Cretney MLC
Ms J M Edge MHK


Mr J D C King


Procedural 3

EVIDENCE OF Mrs Christine Urquhart 3

The next witness was called at 10.40 a.m. 11

EVIDENCE OF Mr John Guest 12

The next witness was called at 11.14 a.m. 20

EVIDENCE OF Mrs Kerry Sharpe MLC 21

The Committee sat in private at 12.21 p.m. 34

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Standing Committee of Tynwald on

Social Affairs Policy Review

Historical Child Abuse

The Committee sat in public at 10 a.m.
in the Legislative Council Chamber,
Legislative Buildings, Douglas

[MR CRETNEY in the Chair]


The Chairman (Mr Cretney): Welcome to this public meeting of the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee, which is a Standing Committee of Tynwald. I am David Cretney MLC and I chair this Committee. With me is Julie Edge MHK. The third member of this Committee is Mr Martyn Perkins MHK. He is not taking part in this inquiry, for reasons which I explained to

5 Tynwald in December 2017.

If we could all ensure that our mobile phones are off or on silent so that we do not have any

interruptions. For the purposes of Hansard I will be ensuring that we do not have two people

speaking at once.

The Social Affairs Policy Review Committee is one of the four Standing Committees of

10 Tynwald Court which scrutinise different areas of Government. We have three Departments to
cover: the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Education, Sport and Culture and the Department of Health and Social Care.

It was resolved on 18th July 2017: ‘That Tynwald notes with concern reports of historical child abuse at the former Knottfield Children’s Home, which closed in 1983, and refers the

15 matter to the Social Affairs Policy Review Committee to report by December 2017; and further
instructs the Committee to investigate the adequacy of current procedures to protect from abuse children in care (looked after children) in the Isle of Man and to report in March 2018.’ Shortly after Tynwald made that resolution last July we invited people to come forward if they wanted to comment on these matters. As a result of that invitation we had face-to-face

20 meetings in private with 13 former residents of Knottfield and one former staff member. These
meetings took place in September and October.

On 30th November this part of the inquiry was suspended pending a criminal investigation. On 22nd March 2018 the criminal investigation was completed and this part of the inquiry was resumed.

25 Today we are sitting in public for the first time for this first part of the inquiry. I am very
grateful to the two individuals we are about to hear from for being willing to come and talk to us in this public forum: you are welcome.


Mrs Christine Urquhart

Q1. The Chairman: For the record, Christine, would you state your full name. And what would you like to say to us today, please?

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30 Mrs Urquhart: My name is Christine Urquhart and I was a resident of Knottfield Children’s

Home between 1978 and 1982. I am here today to speak on behalf of some of the victims.

First of all, I need to say thank you. I feel I need to thank the Isle of Man Government for creating this Committee and opening this review and finally acknowledging the victims of Knottfield Children’s Home publicly. With this review taking place, some of the victims feel that

35 they were finally being heard, that they were receiving validation for the atrocities that
happened to them within those walls of 96 Woodbourne Road, commonly known as Knottfield Children’s Home, at the hands of those who were supposed to be caring for them whilst they were already vulnerable children. The victims believed that finally the system was believing in them.

40 As you are aware, a majority of the victims have told their story many times to the authorities
around them. With this, each time the horrors came back to haunt them, the strength they were able to muster to come forward dissipated … was the reality of our legal system into their worlds. The disenchantment they felt whilst the system as a whole let them down only exasperated their lack of self-worth again. It established a pattern of not being able to believe in

45 a system that was supposed to be there to protect them – then when they were children and
now as recovering, trying to recover – and so enable them to seek the justice they so rightly deserved. And like I said, this disenchantment is now happening again.

Unfortunately, some of these victims are no longer with us to see this day, through either death of natural causes or otherwise, so please be mindful that you are doing this for them also,

50 and their families, and they must be acknowledged.

I was thankful but curious when this Review Committee was formed: initially thankful that the politicians were finally sitting up and listening and would hopefully allow the victims of Knottfield justice and eventually closure. However, I was hugely aware and concerned that the process was ill thought out and there was no care plan put in place for these victims.

55 When the Isle of Man Constabulary made a public statement requesting that the victims
come forward with their stories and statements I completely and absolutely understood the implications of that for many of them. It needs to be understood that when a victim recalls a traumatic event they unwittingly re-live that occurrence. This can continue through visions, feelings and nightmares for a long time after the initial talk with the Police or yourselves, the

60 Committee. So it was wholly disheartening that there was no care plan put in place at this point
in time, and due to this many victims suffered again and are still suffering now at the hands of the people, yet again, who are supposed to be there to protect them. I absolutely denounce this public call-out for victims to come forward, for I have experienced it myself. However, the Isle of Man Constabulary did put a care plan of sorts in place. Unfortunately, those who accessed this

65 service did not find it helpful at all.

So I hope this is a lesson learnt for the Police in how to deal with future victims of abuse and historical crimes. I dearly hope that with your new-learned experience of such crimes and the victims involved, which took place here on the Island, you now understand and acknowledge the absolute necessity for more investment in our over-capacity Mental Health Services. With this

70 review now taking place it absolutely gives you and our Government the opportunity to show
the people of the Isle of Man that you are supporting them. You are not only doing this review for the victims of Knottfield, but also for their families, as I have previously stated, their friends, the authorities who could not or would not act and the general public who are aware of all these atrocities. Take this time to prove to the Isle of Man’s citizens, but more importantly to these

75 victims, that you are finally on their side, that you are a people’s Government who were voted
into these seats by the people and must stand for these people.

Last month the victims were informed that yet again there would be no prosecution of the man who inflicted so many horrors and abhorrent behaviours upon them when they were only children. To be honest, we kind of expected it as it has become the norm on the Island. The

80 system is perceived to ignore the victim and protect the perpetrator, so we all expected the
usual gumph: ‘not enough evidence, not enough witnesses, it is too expensive to ensure a

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conviction so we are not going to bother’. We have all heard these excuses many times. What we did not expect was the reason behind why this man has not even been arrested, never mind prosecuted, the reason being because he is too old and too ill. Everyone knew his age and his

85 state of health before this review started. They all knew before the investigation took
precedence over the review. So please tell me why you have put all these people through this again for nothing.

Who was the person that decided to abuse these people again? This is a form of torture and degradation which has caused immense harm to these people again. The reasoning behind this

90 decision not to prosecute the man I have heard before, regarding another historical crime that
was inflicted on myself – which is of course ridiculous. The age and well-being of a criminal are truly not ours or your responsibility. The responsibility here is to the children who were entrusted into
your care, the Isle of Man Government, the Department of Education as it was called at the time. It was your Department that paid and entrusted this man to care for the

95 vulnerable children of this Island. Do you not feel disgusted by it or embarrassed? This monster
is about to get away with it again and it is all being done by your own Departments.

You were our parents. You owed us a duty of care, which you did not uphold; you are still not upholding it. We were placed in Knottfield due to the negligence of our own parents and caregivers, some of whom were prosecuted by the Isle of Man courts. Why should you or this

100 man not be treated in the same way by the same courts for the same negligence, if not worse? I
need to ask is there a double standard here, because it feels like there is.

The Attorney General and the Police have more than enough evidence and more than enough witnesses to enable a prosecution, so why is this man still being protected? The whole thing – the review, the investigation – now feels like it has purely been a fishing exercise, an

105 opportunity for the Government to find out exactly what the victims know so they can collate
and compose what feels like yet another cover-up. I feel that this is all in the fear that the press are coming to expose the crimes that have been committed against the children on the Isle of Man, with no fear of prosecution for the perpetrators. It feels like you were in fear of a Jersey-like scandal happening here on the Island – and you should be, rightly so, to be fair.

110 I have been looking into how the victims have been treated during this process and I have
found that their rights and personal liberties may actually have been violated by the Police, and by the Government calling them to come forward again, by providing them with false hope that finally someone was going to do something to prosecute this man and protect them.

Please refer to the European Convention on Human Rights Act – which takes precedence

115 over legal and domestic legislation, I have to add. Article 3: the right not to be tortured or
treated in an inhumane or degrading way. And Article 8: the right to respect for your family and your private life. These people poured their hearts and minds open to you all, the Police included,
again. You may have only heard it for the first time, but police, teachers, social workers, everyone that was around these children and as they became adults, has heard these

120 stories again and again and again, and every time these people are tortured and it takes a long
time to heal from it all every time. Their everyday lives were changed, which has affected them and their families by the imposing of this process. It feels like the system has repeatedly raped and tortured these people emotionally and psychologically for a fact-finding exercise, and that is criminal.

125 As I stated previously, when a person reveals abuses that have taken place against them they
unwittingly re-live those moments in time, the fear, the shame and the pain. You were aware of this. You were made aware of this when this process started. You were made aware that these people, some here today, would become that six-year-old child again who was beaten and raped for the pleasure of the abusers around him. You were made aware that the reason the 12-year-

130 old boy had turned to a life of crime was so he could escape the abuses that were happening to
him. No one would listen and no one would act for them. These people, while reliving their stories, become those children again. After the interviews are finished with either yourselves or

5 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


the Police, or whoever else wants to get inside their heads, they are left as that child and this can take months, years, to overcome.

135 They told their stories again because they believed that finally someone was going to say, ‘I

believe you.’ Do you believe these victims? Do you believe what happened to them?

What are you going to do to ensure they receive the validation they require after suffering

for so long?

Do you believe that there has been a cover-up to protect those involved, who were aware

140 and decided to protect themselves and the reputation of the Island?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then a prosecution must be made. This man

must be prosecuted. His health and well-being is down to the sentencing judge to decide, not

you and not I.

Just recently Bill Cosby, aged 80 years and in ill health, was successfully prosecuted for

145 historical sex crimes. Max Clifford was in his 70s. Rolf Harris was in his 70s. Dave Lee Travis in his
60s. And closer to home, Derek Cooper of Hillberry Green is 77 years old and has recently been convicted of historical crimes. Every one of them claimed ill health. They failed. They could not evade the justice they so rightly deserved. Quite frankly, by not prosecuting this man and his staff in question you are making a laughing stock of us as victims and of the Isle of Man, its

150 judicial system and its policies and procedures in a very public forum.

Another case that has recently been made public is from a brave man called Gerry Underwood. He reported historical sex crimes against him to the Isle of Man Constabulary five years ago and still nothing has been done to help him. The Isle of Man Constabulary claim that they have changed their systems and procedures, which they have, but all still leads to the same

155 outcome and excuses from the Police and the Attorney General’s office. We all know this
because we have all lived it many times. Nothing has changed at all. Please be part of that change now. Implement safeguards for the victims, not the perpetrators.

Over the past year alone, from 1st January 2017 to 1st January 2018, a total of 86 crimes were reported to the Police on the Island. Of these, 33 were historical, of which 18 were inflicted

160 upon children – persons as they were children. Only five of these 18 – and this is from when I
received the information in March, I must add – were operational. Five. There are five that are classed as cleared, completed, but I do not know what that means. I have not had any clarification as to what that means. I would like to know.

Child sex crime as a whole on the Island is still not being taken seriously. I know this

165 personally because I have experienced the system myself and the abuser is still walking the
streets today, nearly four years after the crimes were first reported from four children. Not enough evidence. The witnesses are too young. The same song sung by the Police to the Attorney General’s office
again. The list of excuses goes on whilst another child predator is within our midst who will never see the inside of a courtroom.

170 So, questions for the Attorney General. What evidence do you exactly require? Broken
bones? Bruises? Photographic evidence? Scars? Well, for these people, broken bones have healed, the bruises have cleared and all the physical evidence has disappeared along with the children’s personal files from Knottfield – which is another question I must raise with you later. But scars they have plenty of: the mental scars that have ripped open again during this process;

175 the scars that create the nightmares to return and question their ability to lead normal lives,
that make them question their self-worth and destroy their self-esteem. These scars are always there, destroying these people from the inside out because of what happened to them and because not one person of authority has stood up and said, ‘I believe you and I will have your back.’

180 These people need validation, not more persecution. They need someone from the
establishment that they have paid into their whole lives to stand up and say, ‘I believe you and we are sorry.’ Without this, what is the point in any of this? What is your explanation as to why this review is actually taking place? What outcome are you hoping for from all of this? Is anyone actually thinking or caring about these victims at all? Because it does not feel like it.

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185 These victims are parents and grandparents now. They are also struggling with their ill health, even more so throughout this process. Who is looking out for them? Who is protecting them? You were supposed to be protecting them when they were children; you are supposed to be protecting them now. That is your job: to protect the people of the Island who have suffered crimes against them. Give them the validation, tell them you believe them and apologise publicly

190 for it taking so long to get to this point. I am so sorry that some of them cannot be with us today. I have some questions for you. I am not done yet, sorry; I am not done yet.

The Chairman: No, that is fine. Take as long as you want.

195 Mrs Urquhart: Are you able to answer these directly now, or …?

  1. The Chairman: Let’s progress with the questions orally.

Mrs Urquhart: Okay. Where is the medical statement stating the perpetrator is too old and

200 unfit to be prosecuted?

  1. The Chairman: We are yet to meet with the Attorney General and that will be amongst the things we will be asking.

205 Mrs Urquhart: So you have not even seen the statement, even though it is not public?

  1. The Chairman: The Attorney General is going to come into this Committee – Mrs Urquhart: On the 21st.


The Chairman: Yes.

Mrs Urquhart: Yes, I will be here. Okay, so he has that. Will it be made public, because the whole thing is a public forum? Obviously there is data protection, I understand that, but surely

215 there must be something for the victims to see the reasoning behind why he will not be prosecuted. Will there be something made public?

  1. The Chairman: I cannot answer for the Attorney General. I hope so.

220 Mrs Urquhart: In this case the perpetrator is too old and too ill. In other cases the witnesses were deemed too young. So how do we protect the children of our Island? Yet again another question I feel you cannot answer. The Attorney General will need to answer that, I would presume. I have it put here ‘Please advise’, and he is not here – I was expecting him to be here.

Does the Attorney General have evidential and public interest tests? And if he does, where

225 are they and will we see them?

  1. The Chairman: Amongst the questions we were going to ask you when you had finished your statement is what you would like us to ask the Attorney General, so this is very helpful.

230 Mrs Urquhart: Public interest tests.

  1. The Chairman: Please put it on record.

Mrs Urquhart: Can the Attorney General’s decision be reviewed or appealed? If so, by

235 whom? How do we go about that? Anything?

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  1. The Chairman: No. I am sorry, I do not know the answer to that.

Mrs Urquhart: Okay, it’s fine. I will be back on the 21st, don’t worry.

240 Has the Attorney General decided not to prosecute against or with the opinion of the Isle of
Man Constabulary? Yet again that is a question for him.

  1. The Chairman: Well, no, the answer there is that the Isle of Man Constabulary, after the new witness came forward and was interviewed, submitted to the Attorney General that they

245 wished to have a prosecution. The Attorney General’s office … What is the officer called? There
is an officer in the Attorney General’s who makes these decisions and it was his decision, not the Police’s.

Mrs Urquhart: Okay. I find it all ludicrous. You said yourself you have had 13 former residents

250 of Knottfield sat in front of you yourself. That is a lot of witnesses; that is a lot of evidence. I do
not understand the Attorney General’s reasoning behind any of this, to be fair.

Were there ever any checks made on this couple in Manchester before they were allowed to run a children’s home? Do you have any evidence of that?

255 Q10. The Chairman: I do not believe we have had any evidence of that. Ms Edge: It is something we can ask, isn’t it?

The Clerk: Well, no, I do not think the Committee has any information on that at the 260 moment.

The Chairman: But again we can certainly make inquiries about any of the points you are raising and we are very happy to do so.

265 Mrs Urquhart: Okay. Where are all the Knottfield children’s files? We have heard this

question many times and not one person in authority, I feel, even believes they existed; but we, as residents, know they existed.

These files held personal information on the children in the care of the home, such as personal correspondence, their health, welfare and behaviours, their pocket money accounts,

270 post office accounts, post office books. They held an awful lot of information. They had an awful
lot of evidence: doctors’ appointments, health checks, everything that would have corresponded with the abuses that were taking place against the children at the time. Do you not find it ludicrous that they are missing?

275 The Chairman: Yes.

Mrs Urquhart: Thank you. Is anybody looking for them?

Q11. The Chairman: I think we are receiving evidence after John Guest … The next person

280 after him has been conducting, for a considerable time, at the request of the Isle of Man
Children’s Centre previous management … and I think that she may have information on that.

Mrs Urquhart: Okay. Sexual crime on the Island per capita is high in comparison to the UK. In only the first six months of 2017, 42 sex crimes had been reported to the Police, five of which

285 were deemed non-criminal offences, which left 37 crimes to deal with – which is quite possibly
37 victims with families. Some crimes may be different but inflicted on the same person, you have to understand that, so it is only an approximation.

8 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


To back up Lisa Taylor and Sadie Sanders, I must absolutely reiterate that the punishment must fit the crime and those punishments must be used as a deterrent to try and curb this

290 behaviour and to protect our children. Only recently, a 19-year-old boy went to jail for only six
years after savagely raping a 10-year-old child. That young boy will carry the scars of that event for the rest of his life, whereas his rapist will be out walking our streets within three or four years. It does not feel like it fits. A review needs to take place to look into sex crime as a whole on this Island. I feel this review is only the tip of the iceberg and we cannot stop here. It has to

295 continue.

Investment in mental health can itself provide further investment into the Health Service as a whole. To be as brief as I can, failing mental health is one of the most highly contributing factors to failing physical health. By making a substantial investment into the Mental Health Service you will be saving in so many other areas, so this is a request for you to consider and put forward to

300 Government. I understand Manannan Court is still quite new and quite fresh and a lot of
investment was made in that building, but we need the staff to fill the building and to help the people of the Isle of Man. That is where you are lacking. It is a lovely, good-looking building, but you have not got the staff. It is completely overcapacity. That is where the investment needs to be.

305 Finally – nearly – as much as it has been disheartening that it has taken so long for the victims
of Knottfield Children’s Home to be heard, it must be acknowledged that thankfully they are being heard now. So many Departments across Government have listened to the victims’ stories over the years with no one acting on what they were being told. This spans back to the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s and beyond, when they were still children.

310 I request that the Isle of Man Government make a full and public apology to the victims and
their families for the inaction and ignorance over the years, to show that you understand and have learnt from the mistakes that were made and to reassure the public that the same attitude and pattern of behaviour will be abolished and will never happen across Departments in Government again; that those who were plainly ignorant and arrogant towards the victims are

315 made accountable for their mistakes. This, I feel, needs to be a public apology to state that
finally you believe them and that finally you are sorry.

Just a little quote from Nelson Mandela that I would like to add because I feel it is appropriate:

There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.

Bear that in mind.

320 Thank you.

Q12. The Chairman: Thank you, Christine.

Can I just, before we start answering any questions, answer a couple of the points you made


325 The Isle of Man parliament, Tynwald, rather than the Government, decided by majority that
the right thing to do was to undertake this inquiry, and I agree and I voted for that. We did not require outside forces to come in and shine a light on us, like Jersey did.

I believe the young people, who are now older people, who have been to speak to us. I believe them. I believe their story. (Mrs Urquhart: Thank you.) But we have to go through this

330 process and we have to make a report to Tynwald. We will be making recommendations to
Tynwald and it will be for Tynwald to decide whether they accept what we have to say after we have met everybody we need to meet.

So, we have got a few questions, if you are … (Mrs Urquhart: Yes.) That is fine, yes.

Do you want to go first?

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335 Q13. Ms Edge: Obviously we will be seeing the Chief Constable as well as the AG in a couple

of weeks’ time. Have you got any questions you would specifically like us to ask the Chief Constable?

Mrs Urquhart: In this forum? The Isle of Man Constabulary have been very public in saying

340 that they have changed their policies and procedures in the way that they treat victims of
historical crime and sex crime as a whole. What I have found over the past four years is that those procedures have changed and they are willing to listen to you more, but it is the final outcomes that do not change – and I have said this already.

I have to applaud the two officers who took charge of this investigation. I will not name them

345 personally, but they know who they are. Their patience and understanding I found, personally,
was hugely appreciated; it was a hard job that they took on. But the Isle of Man Constabulary as a whole … I am not sure I can say in this forum, to be fair.

Q14. The Chairman: Please do not worry about what you say.


Mrs Urquhart: I do not want to swear.

  1. The Chairman: I think it is best that people are as honest as possible in this. Would you like to make any comment about the Government Mental Health Services and

355 their involvement in any of this?

Mrs Urquhart: Yes. The Police, after advice – or me shouting very publicly on social media – contacted the Mental Health Services and provided the victims of Knottfield with a phone number and a fast track into the Mental Health Services. I am aware of at least one or two

360 people who accessed those services and were basically told that they could not be helped because they were too scared to open that avenue, stating that it was detrimental to the victim. So what was the point, to be fair?

  1. Ms Edge: That was after the recent interviews and that with the Police? 365

Mrs Urquhart: Yes.

  1. Ms Edge: They did not give you good access to their services?

370 Mrs Urquhart: Oh, they got access; they did not get good service.

  1. Ms Edge: And what else do you think could help? Is there anything that you could …?

Mrs Urquhart: The reason they did not get good service was because the Mental Health

375 Service is overcapacity and everybody I know is fully aware of that. For these people in particular I think an independent Mental Health Service needs to come to the Island, specifically for these people, to allow your own Mental Health Service to do the job that they already do, and that way they will not be shunted out the door, saying, ‘It’s too late, we can’t open that corridor in your mind; we haven’t got the time to fix you.’ Bring in an independent service to help these

380 people, so that the people you have already can do the job that they are under so much pressure to do. And hire more, invest in more staff – you desperately need more staff.

  1. The Chairman: Do you know, were the management of Knottfield under any supervision from outside? I know you would only be very young at the time, but do you think they were

385 under any supervision from outside?

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Mrs Urquhart: There was the committee of Knottfield.

Q20. The Chairman: The committee, that kind of thing. Do you want to talk about that a little

390 bit?

Mrs Urquhart: Well, it is the committee that dictate how any business or organisation runs, so yes they were dictated to. I believe the committee were aware of what was going on, if not part of it – sorry, I have to say. So yes, they were dictated to.

395 There was a lot of money that went missing that belonged to the children. Everything has
been covered up for a long time and the committee of Knottfield were behind that – it is not just down to the perpetrators – and I think it has all been covered up to save the reputation of the Island. Well, that is not happening now, is it?

400 Q21. The Chairman: Well, I think it is the reverse, isn’t it? By trying to cover things up you do

not (Mrs Urquhart: Exactly.) enhance the reputation of anyone.

Mrs Urquhart: I would really be interested to know who the committee members were. I cannot seem to find that information. Maybe somebody – maybe John – might have that, I do

405 not know, but I would really like to know who the committee members were and were party to
the ignorance and the arrogance of what happened.

Q22. The Chairman: Yes, well, I am sure Kerry Sharpe again will have information about that.

410 Q23. Ms Edge: Can I just ask … Obviously everybody has concerns if those records cannot be

found, and clearly that is the belief. When anybody has accessed the medical service or any other medical service – their GP – on the Island, there are no records with their GP practice at all?

415 Mrs Urquhart: My own personal medical health record only goes back to 1992. Everything

before it is gone.

Q24. Ms Edge: And you are with the same general practice, the same GP? Yes. Okay. Thank you.


  1. The Chairman: The questions we were going to ask were … What do you think Tynwald should do? I think you have made it absolutely clear what you think –

Mrs Urquhart: They need to apologise.


  1. The Chairman: – Tynwald should do. Yes. Anything else you would like to say?

Mrs Urquhart: No, I think I have covered everything that I needed to say.

430 Q27. The Chairman: You have covered everything very well. I know that it will be quite difficult for you, to say the least, to come here to do this in public, but we want to thank you very much as a Committee for being prepared to do so, for being so open and honest and frank. We will see this through.

435 Mrs Urquhart: Thank you for listening to me. Thank you.

The next witness was called at 10.40 a.m.

11 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


Mr John Guest

Q28. The Chairman: We will now have Mr Guest, please.

John, for the record would you tell us your name and then would you like to make any

statement, please.


Mr Guest: My name is John Guest and I was a victim of physical, mental and sexual abuse at

the Isle of Man Children’s Home in the 1960s and 1970s.

I would like to thank the previous speaker, who I do not know. She made some good

technical points but, on the point where she said she is speaking for the victims, she is not

445 speaking for me personally because I do not know who she is, so I just make that point clear.

I would like to talk and I have my picture of my mother with me today.

I would just like to say that I appreciated the points that the previous speaker made and a lot

of the technical points that she made. I am very appreciative of what she said, but my talk is a

more personal talk and not so technical, so I hope it comes across clearly and understandable to

450 the people here today.

I would like to open my address to this Committee here today by remembering and paying my personal respects to the memory of my two good friends and fellow victims of the physical, mental and sexual abuse committed against us in the Isle of Man Children’s Home whilst under the guardianship and care of the Isle of Man Government in the 1960s and 1970s: Chris Glover

455 and Ian Strange.

Chris took his own life in December 2017, I and others believe as a direct result of the trauma inflicted on him as a vulnerable child in the care of the Isle of Man Government and more recently by the unprofessional actions and insensitive manner in which the Isle of Man Police Force conducted their inquiries in 2015. Chris was my lifelong friend. He was a family man, loved

460 and respected by all his many friends and ex-work colleagues, as the packed-to-capacity church at Andreas testified on the day of his funeral. It is sad that some of the people here were not there to witness that.

Ian Strange, I was informed by the Isle of Man Police, had also taken his own life. I last met Ian in Douglas some time ago and when we sat and talked he was still visibly traumatised by the

465 abuse he was subjected to whilst in the care of the Manx Government and the treatment he received from the Police. I have enquired on several occasions for details on Ian’s resting place and on his passing but I am still awaiting that information from the Police.

I would like at this time just to ask the people here today and the Committee to give me the respect of a short silence in their memory, if that is okay.

A silence was observed.

470 Mr Guest: Thank you.

I would like to start by thanking Mr Baker for bringing motion 35, the Knottfield Children’s

Home, before Tynwald Court. I would like to thank Dr Allinson for seconding the motion and also

Mr Henderson for his contribution to support the motion.

At the risk of seeming ungrateful, I hope to say this is not a waste of all our time. The reason I

475 said this, ladies and gentlemen, is because apparently once this Committee has completed their hearing and made their report, incredibly the select committee’s findings are to be submitted to the Council of Ministers for written response – people who have already shown publicly they do not really care. Your findings are to be handed over to the Council of Ministers, including Mr Quayle, Mr Thomas, Mr Malarkey, Mr Peake and others who en masse voted for Mrs

480 Beecroft’s amendment, which would have stopped motion 35, the Knottfield Children’s Home, being investigated by the select committee. If this is the case, we all have to ask ourselves why are we bothering with this hearing today.

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The reason I am here today is to represent my two dead friends, Chris and Ian, and other individuals who do not have the strength to dredge this all up in public – and frankly, it is not

485 easy for me. Lest anyone misunderstand, despite this horrendous experience, I have a loving wife, a fine son and a daughter and I strive to be successful in my work. I chose to get on with my life and tried to put the shame of my mistreatment behind me. Many of the other victims have not been so fortunate. Also, the actions of some of the politicians and of the Isle of Man Police Force compelled me to act.

490 To Mrs Beecroft, Mr Malarkey, Mr Quayle, Mr Thomas and others who voted in favour of the amendment – in the words of Mr Baker, trying to sweep this issue away – I say bow your heads in shame. Your oath of office is to serve and protect and I say to you all you have let me down, let my two dead friends down and also some of the other innocent victims that are here today, not forgetting all those who were subject to this horrific treatment, and I feel you have let the

495 Island down.

I see Mrs Beecroft mentioned in Tynwald the Jersey Care Inquiry, which investigated the historical child abuse on their Island. It was an independent inquiry, free of government and the Police, giving the victims of child abuse in their care system a totally unbiased and impartial avenue to give their evidence. The Jersey Care Inquiry was instigated after their chief minister in

500 2010 made a full formal apology to all those who had suffered in the Jersey care system, acknowledging their failings towards those vulnerable children in a serious way. He stated that the inquiry was to be transparent and affording the fair treatment of victims and witnesses to be a priority. In a subsection headed ‘systemic failings’ it questioned (1) a failure to ensure that an institution provides proper care, (2) a failure to take all proper steps to prevent, detect and

505 disclose abuse, and (3) a failure to take appropriate steps to ensure the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences involving abuse. I say to Mrs Beecroft, Mr Malarkey, Mr Quayle, Mr Thomas and others: read the Jersey Care Inquiry findings in full, then act in an honourable way.

I am here today to speak out for the victims of physical, mental and sexual abuse inflicted on

510 us whilst in the care and protection of the Isle of Man Government in the 1960s and 1970s. We were taken from our homes and placed into the care of the Isle of Man Government, into a place void of compassion, encouragement and guidance in any way. This unregulated children’s home was funded by the Isle of Man Government. Never at any time in all the years I was in care was I visited or spoken to by a social worker. We were never encouraged to study or helped in

515 any way to prepare us for moving into society. We were not taught any morals, respect or compassion for others. So, on leaving the care system without training or an education, many fell into petty criminality to survive. We were angry, unguided teenagers, trying to find our place in society.

I am not here today to talk about my personal experiences and the physical, mental and

520 sexual abuse inflicted on me whilst under the care of the Isle of Man Government; I have spoken to this Committee to some extent on this matter in private. Also, the evidence I gave to the Police helped to convict the paedophile who ran the children’s home in Knottfield after a court case in 1993.

I would like to say that victims have asked for and have been denied access to funded legal

525 counsel to assist in asking questions and putting evidence forward, a privilege enjoyed by this Committee and by the Police. I ask the Government again, here in public, to give us this assistance.

I, like many of the people who came through the care system at Knottfield in the 1960s and 1970s, have no respect for the Isle of Man Police Service and their office. Their unprofessional

530 attitude and actions towards the innocent victims of Knottfield and the actions of the paedophile who ran the home need to be, in my mind, independently investigated. I personally made several complaints to the Isle of Man Police in regard to their handling of the case in 2015 and 2016 and their treatment of the victims, leaving one suicidal and others unable to work. Their action in one instance after taking evidence was to text a visibly shaken and unstable

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535 victim, offering a contact number for victim support services. After several visits to Police Headquarters and complaints and inquiries into their procedures and actions, I was awarded the title ‘dissatisfied customer’ – the reference number is DC18/15-16 and it was signed by Inspector Will Campbell of the professional standards department, dated 14th December 2015 – and in the eyes of the Isle of Man Police I am a dissatisfied customer; I thank them for that title.

540 In 2015 the Isle of Man Police again opened an investigation into Knottfield and child abuse, and after two years of investigation their intrusive and uncompassionate approach to victims concluded with the suicide of my good friend.

The Chairman: It’s all right, take your time.


Mr Guest: Okay … concluded with the suicide of my good friend and fellow victim,

Chris Glover, and other victims feeling let down and unsupported by the Isle of Man Police


With new evidence being provided and one claim of sexual abuse by another member of staff

550 on a vulnerable victim being made, we believe the case has been closed with no further actions or prosecutions. We the victims, through legal counsel, would like to question the content of the police file sent the Attorney General which led to this decision.

The Chief Constable, Gary Roberts, was in 1993 an investigating DC into the child abuse at Knottfield which led to the conviction of the paedophile who ran the home. We feel his report

555 submitted to the select committee has inaccuracies and find some of his comments offensive when he states that many of the young people who spent time in Knottfield, including Ian Strange, had poor mental health problems, difficulty forming relationships, had a history of offending and alcoholic problems. We find this and other parts of his written submission to this Committee to be untrue, a defamation of the character of myself and others who lived and

560 survived the unregulated systemic abuse in the children’s home in the 1960s and 1970s. If, in 1979, Ian Strange – a scared, vulnerable and abused child who found the courage to complain about his mistreatment – had been listened to by the Police he would be alive today. The Police in 1979 took the word of a paedophile running Knottfield that Ian was a troublemaker and attention seeker. The Police walked away and left that child to his fate. The Chief Constable

565 stated in his written evidence to this Committee:

An opportunity to stop his offending arose in 1979, but not taken.

His words, given to you the Committee.

Also in his report the Chief Constable stated the lack of files connected to the case and that they had been destroyed before the police investigation in 1992 – his words in his statement. So how, on 30th August 2017, did the Isle of Man Police Force receive an anonymous call informing

570 them that staff at the Isle of Man Children’s Centre were destroying files related to the Knottfield investigation?

Leading me on to the Isle of Man Children’s Centre, I believe the Centre had commissioned a book relating to the children in care over the last 150 years on our Island. The Children’s Centre had claimed it had a history dating back over a hundred years, when in fact it was only formed in

575 1988. The victimised innocent residents of the Manx childcare system and Knottfield who grew up in their care in the 1960s and 1970s find it deeply offensive that someone could write this book without our knowledge or input. Without reading the book, I say shame on the Children’s Centre and those involved.

We would also like to ask the select committee to ask questions regarding the handing over

580 of the building and cash assets of the children to the Children’s Centre. That included the substantial building that was Knottfield. Allegedly the building is now up for sale. We ask: what was the agreement as to the use and ultimately the sale of this valuable asset?

14 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


Mr Cretney, select committee, the Police and the people of the Island, I ask for recognition for what happened, justice for the innocent victims and hopefully closure. This dark chapter of

585 our Island’s social and criminal history must be recognised and documented and, where
appropriate, action taken. You owe it to a generation of vulnerable young children who, under the care of this Isle of Man Government, were sent to Knottfield in the 1960s and 1970s – that unregulated, inadequate, uncaring children’s home where a paedophile was free to ruin countless young lives. You owe it to us and this Island’s victims.

590 Again I would like to put on record my disgust and total disagreement with the procedure
where this Committee’s findings and evidence, on completion of its work, are sent to the Council of Ministers for their written response; the Council of Ministers who en masse voted for the amendment to motion 35, which would have silenced the innocent victims and dismissed Mr Baker’s motion. I await their written response and its contents with interest.

595 I call on this Committee, in giving their findings to Tynwald, to remember the innocent
victims, their treatment, and to admit that a travesty of justice was committed on vulnerable young children whilst under the care of the Manx Government. Again I ask for recognition for what happened, justice and closure.

That is my main evidence, but I would like to end on a personal note, if I can. I do not know …


The Chairman: Take your time.

Mr Guest: I do not know if I can read it, really. I would like somebody else to read it. Could you read it for me, or somebody?


The Chairman: Yes, Mr King will read out what John wants to say.

The Clerk: ‘I wish to end my evidence on a personal note. This picture I have with me today, and which I have taken to my closed meeting with this Committee, is of my mother,

610 Doreen Guest. In the mid-1960s, date unknown, the Manx Government, through one of its
Departments, decided to remove from her love and care me and my three brothers. She was placed some time later in secure care where, many years later, she died in her early 40s. She never saw her children again. I cannot imagine how she must have felt at this callous action. I think of her daily.’


Mr Guest: Thank you.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr King.

620 Mr Guest: At the end now, I would just like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk

for the victims, living and departed.

  1. The Chairman: Okay, well, thank you very much, John. Again, very brave, very frank, and you have made your points very well.

625 I want to clarify the process. When this Committee reports, the report will be made public. It
will be laid before Tynwald to be debated at a subsequent sitting. What happens is the Council of Ministers have the opportunity to consider the report, along with all other Tynwald Members, and ultimately it will be Tynwald rather than the Council of Ministers –

630 Mr Guest: Yes, but the Council of Ministers will be giving a written response; the Council of

Ministers who en masse voted against motion 35. We would not have been sitting here today if that had been successful.

  1. The Chairman: I hope they have had time to reflect upon their decision.

15 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


635 Mr Guest: Well, I hope so, yes; I do too.

  1. The Chairman: The other points … This Committee is a parliamentary Committee and as such is not Government; it is unbiased and impartial. As I said to Christine, we will make sure that we complete our work properly and report without fear or favour.

640 I want you to know that we do take everything that has been said to us very seriously and I share with you that one of the people, Chris, who spoke with Mr Baker and who subsequently has taken his own life, we owe it to him to make sure that we complete this process.

Mr Guest: And Ian as well.


  1. The Chairman: And Ian; we did not meet Ian.

If it is all right with you we will ask a few questions. We will be seeing the Chief Constable in a couple of weeks. You have made several points. Is there anything else you would like us to ask him, other than what you have said already?


Mr Guest: To ask the Chief Constable?

The Chairman: Yes, anything you think we should put to him, other than …? You have made a number of important points.


Mr Guest: I have actually had a meeting with the Chief Constable and I have put a lot of my

points I wished to make to him anyway.

I think the situation is that myself and fellow victims have a complaint and a grievance

against the Isle of Man and the Police, so how can they be impartial when we are complaining

660 against the Police and the Police then make the file to put to the Attorney General, when we are
complaining against their actions? It should be an independent written report given to the Attorney General, not by the Police. The Isle of Man Police Service I do not think are impartial enough and I think it is unfair.

665 Q33. Ms Edge: Sorry, John, can I just ask on that, did your complaint go right through the

process and did it go to the …? Because obviously there is the Police Complaints Commissioner – do you know, did it get to him and have you had the outcome of that?

Mr Guest: Right, I will answer that. When I made my complaint on several occasions I was

670 spoken to by several high-ranking police officers and that was not put to me. It was put to me
that I would be treated as a dissatisfied customer and that was as far as it was going.

  1. Ms Edge: So you were not aware of that option?

675 Mr Guest: I was not made aware of the other option that you just mentioned. Ms Edge: Thank you.

  1. The Chairman: Can I ask the same question I have just asked you about the Chief

680 Constable in relation to the Attorney General: anything other than what you have said already
that you would like us to ask the Attorney General?

Mr Guest: To ask the Attorney General?

685 The Chairman: Yes.

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Mr Guest: I would like him to make public why the contents of the file … I think the file is in the defence of the Police. The Police do not want there to be a prosecution because we, the victims, want to ask the Police questions because the Police do not want this to go ahead. So I

690 think it is not a fair system. I think it should be an independently placed file before the Attorney
General, not by the Isle of Man Police. It is too local, it is too friendly in the contents of … Civil servants and the Police are all together and they do not want it to happen, and I think that is totally unfair in a criminal judicial way. It should be an off-Island investigation and then a file put forward.

695 And the health of the paedophile in question should not be in question. He should be
wheeled into a court in a wheelchair, like in anywhere else in the world; age is no barrier. So I think the Police are acting in their own interest, not in the interest of the victims, as shown in their actions towards the victims as well.

700 Q36. The Chairman: Okay. Without answering on behalf of the Chief Constable … We will

certainly put that to the Chief Constable, but the Chief Constable did submit a file seeking a prosecution.

Mr Guest: Well, yes, he might have done, but what was the content of the file? When you

705 have new evidence, where people are coming forward offering fresh evidence of abuse, and in
one instance abuse by another member of staff as well, given to the Police, where is the non-strength in that evidence?

We have not got a right to ask legal questions. We have not been given access to funded legal advice where we could ask these questions properly. We should be entitled to this. What is

710 happening on this Island, where people have not …? We are in the situation we are in because
we were not given an education whilst under the care of the Government, so we are not clever enough people to ask these kind of questions. Why are we not given access to funded legal advice so we can ask the questions? This is a right. Anywhere else in the world you would have a right to do that.


Q37. The Chairman: Yes. Again you make a good point in relation to that –

Mr Guest: Yes, I do.

720 The Chairman: We have a system which is means tested and, as we have had a

conversation –

Mr Guest: Yes, I can understand your means-tested system, but this goes past the means-tested system. We are talking about vulnerable people. I work for myself, I am a worker, I have

725 never claimed off the Government, but why should I have to find thousands of pounds to defend
myself and ask questions of a Government and a Police Force who have let me down and wronged me and taken away my life? Why should I have to find the money to do that?

I have spoken to a law firm in Athol Street – they want £260 an hour plus VAT. If I had been an educated person I maybe would be able to afford that, but I have broken my back for the last

730 30-40 years working on a building site because that is the outcome of the Government’s care for
me when I was young. They robbed me of my education, my innocence, and now I have got to pay for it to defend myself against what they did to me. Where is the fairness in that? That is totally unfair, not just for myself but my fellow victims.

The Police take your evidence and they treat you unfairly, and then they leave you alone.

735 Why can’t we ask the Police questions? Why can’t we ask Government questions through legal
counsel? Because we cannot afford it, and that is totally unfair.

You created us the way we are – do you know what I mean? – this Government. The people who spent endless years in jail did not spend endless years in jail because they chose to go out

17 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


and do these bad things; it is because of the way they were created and brought up by an

740 uncaring Government and the Isle of Man Children’s Home.

Ms Edge: Can I just follow on?
The Chairman: Yes.


  1. Ms Edge: You have made comment about the Chief Constable and then, with regard to records, somebody saying that there were records being destroyed. We will make sure that that is a question that is asked.

750 Mr Guest: Well, if you have read the Chief Constable’s report, which is available to you, it is actually in there. I am only commenting on what he has … Luckily, I was able to read his report before it was taken off the website. So if you read his report you will see it. The way you looked at me there – his report was put on the website and it was removed.

755 The Chairman: It had to be removed because of the –

Mr Guest: Okay, that’s fine, but if you read the report you will find in there he states that in 1992, I think it was, files were destroyed or were unobtainable and he has mentioned it on several occasions, and all of a sudden the files that were unobtainable would seem to be

760 available to the Isle of Man Children’s Centre to write a book. And then, in 2017, luckily, an anonymous caller made a call saying that they were destroying files. Well, I would like to question how, when the Isle of Man Children’s Centre knew there was an investigation going on and the files were part of the investigation, they were destroying the files. The Isle of Man Children’s Centre were destroying the files, by which they were destroying criminal evidence

765 which they knew was part of an investigation, so they should be made responsible and accountable for what they have done.

  1. The Clerk: Just to mention the written evidence which you talked about from the Police and some other written evidence was taken down from the Tynwald website when this

770 investigation was suspended –

Mr Guest: Why was that?

The Clerk: – but it is back on the website now. That was to maintain the separation between

775 the –

Mr Guest: Yes, thank you for that, but I would like to question as well the contents of the Chief Constable’s report. He is stating lack of files and lack of evidence but he is criticising me and others and our actions. How has he found out this information when the files are not

780 available to look into our circumstances? He is quoting individuals and group activities, so where is this information coming from? We want to question, through legal counsel, what he has written. A lot of it is untrue and defamation of our character, because people can read that and then when this Committee sits and they read that … If they had just read that report from the Chief Constable and did not speak to me and others, they would have thought they were dealing

785 with people who were criminals and unruly – because that is what he has written in his report, which is totally untrue, claiming alcoholism and unruly behaviour. Okay, unruly behaviour is fair because that is the way we were brought up. We were brought up without boundaries, without regulation, but that was not our fault; that was the way we were brought up. And on leaving the care system we were just let go. We were not given any accommodation, nothing. So we were

18 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


790 angry and we were unruly because we had no boundaries, but this Government, through the Isle of Man Children’s Centre, created how we were. So that is it.

The Chairman: Okay. Anything else?

795 Ms Edge: I do not think so. We have covered everything, haven’t we?

  1. The Chairman: Again, I think you have partially answered this, but what do you think Tynwald should do as a result of …? When we report, what you think should be the outcome?

800 Mr Guest: Well, I think en masse the Isle of Man Government want to get a backbone and acknowledge what has happened. The Isle of Man Government and the Police Service are only interested in the reputation of the Isle of Man, and this story is not good for the Isle of Man. But it has to be acknowledged and the people who are victims, they have to give recognition to them. At the moment the actions of the Government, the MHKs and the Council of Ministers are

805 showing that they do not care.

The Chairman: Okay. I think that is probably all we need to ask you, John. Again, thank you very much for coming along –

810 Mr Guest: Well, I would like to say one more thing.
The Chairman: Yes, please do.

Mr Guest: The former speaker, you asked her a question about the committee of the Isle of

815 Man Children’s Home. The committee of the Isle of Man Children’s Home were local businessmen who used to meet once a month in Knottfield. They were local businessmen and I believe that, because of the cunningness and actions of the paedophile who ran the children’s home, they had no understanding of what was going on. They only came to the building for about two hours once a month to have their meeting, so I do not believe that they would have

820 had any knowledge of what was going on.

  1. The Chairman: You do not think they were complicit in it?

Mr Guest: No, definitely not. I would not have thought so, because of the way he was

825 running the place and they were not there anyway, so I do not think so.

  1. Ms Edge: Can I just ask you one more question, John? Obviously they had a duty to have you educated. You did attend school –

830 Mr Guest: Who had a duty?

  1. Ms Edge: Well if you were in somebody’s care … Did you attend school? Mr Guest: Yes.


  1. Ms Edge: Has anybody looked at any of your schooling records with regard to your time within Knottfield?

Mr Guest: No.

840 My son is 10 years of age now, the age I was when I was being abused. He is starting secondary school and when he goes to secondary school I will encourage him, and if he is good

19 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


at a subject I would like to ask what he wants to be when he leaves school and I will point him in

the direction of what he wants to do.

When I was in the children’s home I was not driven or helped in any way in my education. My

845 education suffered. I was quite good at maths and quite a bright person at school, but when the paedophile in question came to the children’s home my education suffered. All I wanted to do was get away from the children’s home and the only way to get away from the children’s home was to get away from school. Okay? So my good education, which would have got me a decent job, which would have made me a better citizen, suffered because the Government, under the

850 care of the Government, employed this paedophile in this children’s home to ruin my life and others’, which ruined my education and my life.

So yes I went to school, and yes I did have to go to school. I skipped off school when I felt like it and I did not go to school when I wanted to, and on leaving school I got a leaver’s report which, out of about 200 children … I got a good leaver’s report: six As on my leaver’s report.

855 Teachers asked me why am I leaving – ‘You shouldn’t be leaving, you’ve got a good education,’ – but how could I say to them ‘I’m getting away’ from what I did? And then, when I left the children’s home, I decided when I left the children’s home. I got a bag into my room, packed my bag and left, and that was me leaving the children’s home. I was getting away from my education; my only escape from the children’s home was to leave my education. Okay?


Ms Edge: Thank you.

Mr Guest: Right.

865 Q45. The Chairman: Again, thank you very much for speaking to us privately previously, John, and for coming along today and being honest about such a difficult subject.

Mr Guest: I would like to say one more thing. I see that motion 35 was on the Knottfield Children’s Centre, but attached to the main motion was a secondary motion, which was present-

870 day care of children, which is understandable but I would just like to say that it should not have been included in the motion. The main motion was headed the Knottfield Children’s Centre and for this to be added and debated by Mrs Beecroft If you read the Hansard, the majority of her talk was based on modern-day practice. She did not really question or even look into … She acknowledged Knottfield but the majority of her talk was on modern-day practice, and really

875 that again is defamation against the main motion, which was for the Children’s Centre, which I feel should not have been … It should not be debated here today, modern-day practice. The children’s home, Knottfield, is the main reason we are here today and that is the only thing I am interested in talking about and listening to, and that should be a separate motion, not to be including anything else.


Q46. The Chairman: Okay. We are obviously required to comply with –

Mr Guest: Yes, but for what purpose? I do not know. Just to either dilute it down or make it seem less important, but it should not even be on the same statutory motion as the Knottfield

885 Children’s Centre, which was the heading on the motion anyway.

The Chairman: Okay. Thank you very much and we will now move on to our next –

Mr Guest: Well, I hope the politicians of the Isle of Man show respect to the people who

890 suffered and give us the justice we deserve.

The Chairman: I agree. (Mr Guest: Okay.) Thank you, John.

The next witness was called at 11.14 a.m.

20 SAPRC-HCA/17-18



Mrs Kerry Sharpe MLC

  1. The Chairman: Our final witness this morning is Mrs Kerry Sharpe, Member of the Legislative Council.

895 For the record, please could you state your name and outline your professional background
as it relates to the subject we are talking about today.

Mrs Sharpe: My name is Kerry Sharpe. I am currently a Member of the Legislative Council, but prior to joining the Legislative Council on 12th March 2018 I was writing a book entitled

900 The History of the Children’s Centre, working title.

  1. The Chairman: Okay, thank you. Would you like to make any opening remarks?

Mrs Sharpe: Yes, I have prepared a short introduction.

905 In November 2013 I was asked by the then CEO of the Children’s Centre, John Knight, to write
the book
The History of the Children’s Centre. Over the next two years I met with John Knight and his development manager, Juana Warburton, approximately once a month to discuss the progress of my research and how the material would be presented in the book.

We did not sign a contract; we had a verbal contract. We did sign a letter of intent. We

910 decided that I would write the book for free, so long as my expenses incurred during the first
year of research for the book were covered by the Children’s Centre. We agreed that publishing costs would be covered by the Children’s Centre.

I drew up a document for the trustees outlining the structure, style and content of the book, plus an estimate of publishing costs. This was circulated to trustees and I attended a trustees’

915 meeting to answer any questions they had.

I gave a short talk to staff members about the history of the organisation. I interviewed staff

members in situ at the Children’s Centre. I was asked to interview the oldest former child, who is

96, in Cirencester. The organisation paid for my flight and hotel.

John Knight agreed with the trustees that the Children’s Centre would pay half the publishing

920 costs and the other half would be found via donations. In short, I was researching material for a
book about the 150-year history of the Children’s Centre. The book was to be published and ready to coincide with the anniversary celebrations. It was a collaborative effort.

In January 2015, following a controversial loss on behalf of the Children’s Centre of a raft of Government contracts, John Knight and Juana Warburton resigned. Fiona Dawson took over as

925 CEO. For the first 15 months, Ms Dawson actively supported the book. She arrange bi-monthly
meetings with me to discuss progress. She encouraged me to meet with staff members to help progress anniversary celebrations, for example. I was asked to attend a meeting with Katie King at the Manx Museum with staff members to discuss a potential exhibition at the Museum which would run in parallel to the launch of the book.

930 From March 2016, for reasons I will explain, it appeared that the Children’s Centre began to
distance themselves from the book, resulting in a meeting in April 2017 between myself, Fiona Dawson and Andrew Johnston, a former lawyer and trustee who was allegedly representing the will of the trustees, where Andrew Johnston informed me that, I quote, ‘The Children’s Centre has never wanted a book writing about its history,’ and, I quote, ‘We would

935 rather sweep under the carpet aspects of our history which we don’t like.’ Ms Dawson informed
me, ‘We just can’t afford the litigation.’ She said that in the UK there were instances where organisations had been successfully sued by descendants of looked after children who had been sent to the colonies, for example. She said that since I had been working on the book – quote – ‘people had come crawling out of the woodwork’. She used the example of 10 people who had

940 recently brought about a claim of historical abuse and said that this was all due to my writing the

21 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


In June 2017, I informed Ms Dawson that I would not be going ahead with publishing the book at the end of July after all. I informed her that I had not yet decided what to do with the material. I informed my interviewees, who were all adamant that I press on with the book. I

945 obtained legal advice. I approached this inquiry and gave written evidence.

I then approached Culture Vannin, who agreed that the book … I submitted a few sample chapters and what I did was I broadened the aspect of the book to look at the history of looked after children on the Island as a whole over the past 150 years so that the Children’s Centre would not feel that they were specifically under the spotlight only. Culture Vannin agreed that

950 the book was of historical value and they presented me with a grant towards publication costs. Chris Thomas MHK, Chair of Culture Vannin, said:

Culture Vannin is delighted to award a grant towards the publishing of Kerry’s new book The Herring Barrel Children because it represents an important contribution to Manx history, focusing on an area which had previously been under-researched and consequently little understood. The book promises many fascinating and compelling stories which are likely to be of interest to many of us.’

Thank you.

  1. The Chairman: Thank you.

955 You did get in touch with us last August but since then you have been elected Member of the Legislative Council and you have been appointed Member of the Department of Health and Social Care. Have you taken on any responsibilities in the Department of Health and Social Care to do with looked after children?

960 Mrs Sharpe: Not so far.

  1. The Chairman: And do you see any conflict between your role in the Department of Health and Social Care and your role as an impartial witness in this inquiry?

965 Mrs Sharpe: I do not, because my research was carried out before I joined the Legislative Council. I have yet to research the final chapter of the book because I want to see what happens in 2018 first and what the result of this inquiry is, but apart from material which I have gathered through interviewing people, all of my material has come from the public domain, so I see no reason why research on the modern period should not come from information which is in the

970 public domain.

  1. The Chairman: Okay. Were you shocked or surprised when the trustee, the lawyer you spoke about earlier, said what he said?

975 Mrs Sharpe: I was shocked because I thought, ‘Why are you lying to me? As an organisation you asked me to write this book about the history.’ Of course, since then the CEO changed and members of the trustees changed, but nevertheless the book was ongoing and on the day that John Knight left the Children’s Centre he confirmed to me, ‘The book will still go ahead.’ I felt that the lawyer was lying to me, yes, so I was shocked.

980 I was also shocked at the term that was used – ‘people have come crawling out of the woodwork’ – because this was exactly what 19th-century language was used when referring to orphans and looked after children. They were referred to as ‘street urchins’, for example, and ‘street Arabs’. They were referred to in dehumanising terms and I felt that this was the impression that I was getting that day from Fiona Dawson and Andrew Johnston.


  1. Ms Edge: Can I just ask: you said that as yet you have not got anything to do with looked after children within your role. Can you state for the record what your role is within DHSC, what responsibilities you have?

22 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


Mrs Sharpe: I have joined the Department of Health and Social Care with special

990 responsibility for children and families. As yet, the director has been on annual leave, so we have
not actually met to discuss what my role will be specifically. That is as far as we are at the moment.

  1. Ms Edge: And you do not feel there is any conflict with what you are aware of at the 995 moment?

Mrs Sharpe: No, I do not, because I have researched the book so far using information available at the Manx Museum, which is open to the public, and I would not ever use any confidential information, for example, as material for my book.


  1. The Chairman: Okay. So we will go back to Knottfield in context.

Thank you for your paper, which we have, as you know, published on our website. Please could you briefly talk us through the origins of the place we know as Knottfield and the key stages in its evolution.


Mrs Sharpe: The Home’, as it was commonly known for over a century, starts its life on Boxing Day 1868. On this day, Scottish Wesleyan David Russell went out onto the streets surrounding the North Quay in Douglas and took as many homeless children as he could find into his own house in James Street. David Russell had been employed as the agent of the

1010 Douglas Town Mission. The Town Mission had asked Russell to identify the key causes of
drunkenness and depravity allegedly so prevalent in the town. What Russell had reported was that there were vast numbers of homeless children wandering the streets and that what the town needed most was an industrial school for orphan and destitute children. Only if these children could be given a sound, moral education and training for work, he believed, could the

1015 town’s endless cycle of poverty and crime be broken. From this point, the main stages in the

evolution of the home are as follows.

In 1869, Russell’s home moved from James Street to Woodside Terrace, South Quay.

In 1870, overcrowding led to a move to Mountain View, Glencrutchery Road. The home’s

official title changed to the Douglas Industrial Home for Destitute Children, then the Manx

1020 Industrial Home for Destitute Children, then the Isle of Man Industrial Home for Orphan and

Destitute Children. However, it was always referred to commonly as ‘the Home’.

In 1881, a large donation from an aristocratic miser, Pierre Baume, led to the purchase of

Strathallan Hall, a former boarding school in Onchan, so the home moved to Strathallan Hall.

In 1906, money from Henry Bloom Noble’s will allowed for the construction of a purpose-

1025 built children’s home on Glencrutchery Road. Noble’s trustees also made a £20,000 donation to
the home’s endowment fund.

In 1939, the home moved to Lorne House, Castletown, returning to Glencrutchery Road in 1946. The home became referred to by the press as the Children’s Home; however, its official title was still the Isle of Man Industrial Home for Orphan and Destitute Children.

1030 In 1968, the home moved to Woodbourne Road and held its official opening ceremony on

1st January 1969. The manager requested that the home be known as Knottfield.

On 16th April 1971, the home expanded into the adjacent property, Frances Villas, at

numbers 90-92 Woodbourne Road, in order to start a day nursery.

In 1983, the residential arm of the home closed. However – and this is crucial – the charity

1035 still continued to run and the newspapers reported that Mrs Tonks, the nursery nurse, would
keep the nursery running and the chairman of the committee, Mr Bob Dowty, was quoted in the newspapers as saying, ‘The charity is still alive and kicking.’

In 1984, the home’s manager began developing before- and after-school clubs. So the residential arm closed and the nursery continued to run, along with a summer holiday club

1040 which was run by Mrs Peggy Pugh. In 1984, Mrs Peggy Pugh was asked to take over the running

23 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


of Knottfield and she began developing before- and after-school clubs, a family centre, camping

weekends and a contact centre. The press referred to the home as the Knottfield Centre.

On 10th May 1985, the residential arm of the home reopened. Between 1985 and 2000, the home’s name was officially changed to the Isle of Man Children’s Centre. In 2000, children in

1045 residence moved into small, family-sized houses, although the day nursery and other services

In 2008, the Isle of Man Children’s Centre officially changed its name to the Children’s Centre. In 2008, both buildings on Woodbourne Road were knocked into one and a large glass front bearing the name ‘The Children’s Centre’ was erected at the front of the building.

1050 In November 2014, the Children’s Centre lost its Government contract for residential

  1. The Chairman: Thank you very much for that.

The point I was hoping to get at was that for a long time, including the time we are looking at,

1055 the Isle of Man Children’s Centre was responsible for this accommodation on behalf of the

Mrs Sharpe: Yes, from the passing of the Children’s Act in 1953 the Isle of Man Government took on responsibility for all looked after children in the Isle of Man.

  1. The Chairman: So do you agree it might be helpful if we were to speak to the Children’s Centre so they can let us know their part of the story?

Mrs Sharpe: Yes.

The Chairman: Thank you.

  1. Ms Edge: In the evidence that you have submitted you also mention the Ramsey children’s home. How did this relate to the home in Douglas with regard to the evidence? And

1070 there had been lots of other children’s homes around the Island you have commented on.

Mrs Sharpe: Well, the Ramsey children’s home was always a separate home. I have some notes on the Ramsey children’s home. It was actually set up before the Douglas children’s home. It had its origins in a Ragged School which was set up in the winter of 1862 by Miss Susanna

1075 Gibson, who was daughter of the shipyard owner T C Gibson, and in 1963 a permanent home, Ballacloan, also known as the Ramsey Industrial School, was built by T C Gibson in north Ramsey and run by Miss Gibson.

  1. The Clerk: Sorry, did you say 1863 or 1963?

Mrs Sharpe: 1863. Miss Gibson, in 1878, applied for affiliation to the Methodist Children’s Homes and Orphanages because by this point her father, who had been a main benefactor, had died and she could not afford to run it; she was relying on donations. She applied to the Methodist Children’s Homes and Orphanages and so the Ramsey children’s home then became

1085 part of Methodist Children’s Homes and Orphanages, which are now known as the National Children’s Homes.

So there was never any connection between the Douglas children’s home and the Ramsey children’s home.

1090 Q59. The Clerk: Were there a whole lot of Methodist homes in the Island, or was that her trying to make a link with an off-Island …?

24 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


Mrs Sharpe: As far as I know. From my research I have not been able to find any other children’s homes on the Isle of Man. I know for a fact, through going through the registers since

1095 1868 for the Douglas children’s home, that children were routinely sent to the Douglas
children’s home from all over the Island. This was why they had to keep moving, because they kept running out of room; the more successful they were, the more children were sent to them.

  1. The Chairman: Can I ask you: you said in preparation of your work you had access to the

1100 Manx Museum, for example, in terms of … Were there any records actually available from the
Children’s Centre which were made available to you to assist in the preparation of the work when you were initially engaged by the previous director?

Mrs Sharpe: At the first meeting which I attended with Mr Knight and Mrs Warburton they

1105 gave me a folder and they said, ‘This is all the information that we’ve got.’ It consisted of a
research paper which had been written in 1986 by a Miss D Cringle, entitled ‘The Emigration of Manx Children to Canada 1884-1928’; one black and white photograph, which had been published in an Isle of Man newspaper around 1960, depicting children from the children’s home in Douglas receiving presents from Father Christmas; a recent public report on the

1110 Children’s Centre, detailing their ethos and the services that they offered; a business card
belonging to a former looked after child from the home, who was in his 70s but was happy to be involved in all the Children’s Centre’s projects; and a general outline, which Mrs Warburton gave me, which she had used when giving talks about the history of the Children’s Centre across the Island. That was all the information that I ever received from the Children’s Centre.


  1. The Chairman: Would you have expected there to be more substantial records?

Mrs Sharpe: No, because Mr Knight informed me that he and Mrs Warburton had given all the records they could find to the Manx Museum. So I went to the Manx Museum and there are

1120 four boxes all clearly labelled ‘Children’s Centre Archives’ – and these are available to the public,
but you have to request them.

The Chairman: That is helpful, thank you.

1125 Q62. The Clerk: Does that include records involving individual names of people who are still


Mrs Sharpe: Well, at the time when I started my research the information was given to me by the curators at the Museum and this included the main register, which started in 1868 and

1130 which listed names, and then at the back there are some loose pieces of paper and the names
go up to … I have noted this, but I think it is round about 1980. But I do not know whether, since I started my research, the new management at the Children’s Centre have made any arrangements with the Museum. It might be that you have to apply for special permission to access that register; I am not sure.


Q63. The Chairman: So, at the time you were able to go and look at these registers, which went up to … I think you say 1983 in your … In other words, it does include people who are still alive – and what you were able to read about them was what sort of information?

1140 Mrs Sharpe: The only information contained in the register is entry date, exit date, name and

date of birth, and then in the 19th century there were some little notes made about some children – for example, ‘emigrated to Canada’ or a child ‘has been placed as a servant’ in a certain house. But in later years – and I am trying to think off the top of my head … Well,

25 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


definitely from the 1970s onwards, there is no detail about the children other than entry date,

1145 exit date and date of birth.

The Clerk: Right.

  1. The Chairman: One of the witnesses we have spoken to privately said that he wondered

1150 what had happened to personal effects – photographs, that kind of thing; whether they would be retained. There was nothing like that retained in what you saw?

Mrs Sharpe: No. All I obtained from the Children’s Centre was this one folder which I mentioned to you, and the files at the Museum contain register and book-keeping details; that is

1155 it.

  1. The Clerk: So when you talk about files – sorry, but can we just make it absolutely clear for people listening – did you see files on individuals?

1160 Mrs Sharpe: No. When I say ‘files’ – sorry – I mean there are four boxes of information, and I think I detailed in my written evidence what is contained in each box. So there is no detail about individuals, other than name, entry, exit and date of birth.

  1. Ms Edge: Can you just clarify: on the records that you received from the Children’s

1165 Centre – the one file that you received – is that information that was in the public domain at that time, or do you think you have received confidential information from them?

Mrs Sharpe: Let’s see what was in it. The research paper by Miss D Cringle is not the only copy that is available; I think the Family History Society has a copy, probably. And it was an

1170 academic piece of work. I certainly do not see that as a confidential piece of information.

The black and white photograph they gave me had been published in the Isle of Man

newspapers, so that was not confidential.

Their public report is available to the public.

The business card from the former looked after child – he had already expressed the fact that

1175 he would help the Children’s Centre in any way. He still does help them. There was no reason

why they should think they should not give me his details.

And the notes from Mrs Warburton’s talk – she had already given those talks in public.

  1. Ms Edge: Can I ask: has the file gone back to the Children’s Centre, or have you retained

1180 it?

Mrs Sharpe: I have retained that as part of my research material.

  1. Ms Edge: Okay, and that was the agreement at the outset? There was no agreement

1185 that you had to return any of their information?

Mrs Sharpe: No.

Ms Edge: Okay, thanks.


  1. The Chairman: The Tynwald resolution states that Knottfield closed in 1983. Is that true, that it was in 1983 it closed?

Mrs Sharpe: The residential arm of Knottfield closed in 1983 but Knottfield did not close in

1195 1983. As far as I am concerned –

26 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


Q70. The Chairman: Okay, so for residential.
Mrs Sharpe: – it did not ever close.

1200 Q71. Ms Edge: Did you find any reasons behind why they decided to close the residential arm?

Mrs Sharpe: Well, the official reason given – by Mr Bob Dowty, who was chairman of the committee at the time, and it was the committee who made the decision to close down the

1205 residential arm, and he is quoted in newspapers of the time – is that numbers of children had dwindled and there were only three children left, being looked after by Mr and Mrs Marshall.

I believe the reason why the numbers dwindled was that social workers suspected that sexual abuse was going on and they were purposely not placing children in the home. Yes, there was a move towards fostering during the 1970s as a preferred option. However, I still do believe

1210 that that is the case, having interviewed one of the main social workers from the 1970s, and this social worker was the social worker who the first original child reported child sexual abuse to. He reported it to her prior to going to the Police.

  1. The Chairman: I was called to ask you were any of the social workers still around now,

1215 because we have not spoken to any of them and it might be helpful, if that was what they suspected, to enquire as to why they did not go any further.

Mrs Sharpe: Well, it was not just that it was suspected; the social worker told me she and her colleagues believed the allegations that the children were making and she told me that meetings

1220 went on between the Police, between Social Services, between Knottfield and the social workers. There was a whole official line that they had to follow because there had been an official complaint made to the Police.

She told me that her managers were adamant that social workers had to just carry on as if nothing had happened because Mr Marshall had not been officially charged, but from what she

1225 told me also I do feel that social workers were purposely not placing children there.

  1. The Chairman: Perhaps it would be helpful for the community, I think, if separate to today you might ask this social worker if she will be prepared to talk to us, because I think it would be helpful if we could speak to her. She will have seen our call for evidence, I am sure –


Mrs Sharpe: Yes, she has.

  1. The Chairman: Right, but it would be helpful to us if she does feel able to come and speak to us, I think.

1235 You have said why it closed at the time. What happened to the children who were there at the time?

Mrs Sharpe: The children were fostered by Mr Marshall, and I want to know how that could possibly have happened.

1240 The social worker that I mentioned kept a close eye on the children and she said that one of the children, who had a severe disability and was not able to speak, her behaviour deteriorated quite rapidly. Social workers visited and brought with them anatomical dolls, and the social worker said she was sure that the child was being sexually abused. The child became quite excited when they produced the anatomical dolls but was unable to say anything, and the social

1245 worker told me that she made the decision that that child had to be moved.

  1. Ms Edge: And do you know if that did happen?

27 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


Mrs Sharpe: I do not know because I do not have any access to these records, but I presume that the child must have been moved. But obviously there were other children who had been

1250 fostered by the Marshalls.

Q76. The Chairman: Just for the record, some of the former residents have expressed concern that you may have been given access to their personal information when they have not. That is not the case?


Mrs Sharpe: No.

  1. The Chairman: And I asked about the photographs.

The Children’s Centre told us when you discussed your manuscript with them in 2017 they

1260 did not wish to be associated with it in its current form because of the possible identification and adverse impact on individuals mentioned, their families and others who may suffer emotional distress from some of the content or personal views expressed. Is that how you saw it?

1265 Mrs Sharpe: No, I did not, because the reason I submitted the first draft of the book to them in 2017 was that they had already distanced themselves from me and suddenly there was no response coming back. I decided that I would submit the first draft to them as it was in order for them to see exactly what material we were talking about. It was only for the eyes of Fiona Dawson and Andrew Johnston.

1270 I explained to them clearly it was a first draft and, as such, it contained all possible information which could go into the book. Not all that information would be going into the final version at all; it was a first draft. I used initials appertaining to interviewees in the knowledge that Fiona Dawson and Andrew Johnston probably would know who those individuals were because they worked at the Children’s Centre, but it did not matter – it was for their eyes only;

1275 that was not what was going out to the public at all.

So I found the fact that they were supposedly worried that people were being identified when they did not want to be identified was just not a valid argument. Also, the interviewees I had spoken to – I was surprised, actually, but they all wanted to be named in the book. Every time I interviewed someone I said, ‘You know you don’t have to be identified; we can use initials,

1280 we can use false initials,’ but they all wanted to use their real names.

  1. The Chairman: In the paper you sent us you said you had a conversation with one staff member who told you about staff being told to withdraw their interviews for the book and staff being told to destroy data. Can you tell us more about that?


Mrs Sharpe: Yes, I can. On 6th April 2017, one member of staff I had interviewed for the book e-mailed me saying:

It has recently been brought to my attention that you have requested information in connection to me to support your book The History of the Children’s Centre, working title. I cannot stress strongly enough that I do not and have never given you or anyone else permission to use my name or any information referring to the Children’s Centre. With this in mind, I insist any references are removed.

I was quite surprised to receive that because I knew that Mr Knight had e-mailed all staff at the Children’s Centre and asked them to comply with me if I wanted to interview them and I had

1290 interviewed a vast number of staff in situ at the Children’s Centre. And one of the purposes of
the book was to inform the public what the Children’s Centre did – that was the point. So I was surprised at that.

28 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


Then I received a letter from Mrs Pugh, dated April 2017, saying that she had not realised that the book would include ‘thoughts of former residents and also of other staff’. So she

1295 informed me in the letter that she wanted her interview removed.

I met, by chance, a woman who had acted as a conduit between myself and a former looked after child who was now living in the UK and she asked me if the book was still going ahead. I said yes and she said, ‘Oh, well, I’m surprised because the former child has been phoned up by someone from the Children’s Centre asking them why they gave you an interview and why they

1300 were taking part in this book at all,’ and they had left the former child quite upset about it, but whoever it was who had called from the Children’s Centre had said, ‘It doesn’t matter because the book isn’t going ahead anyway.’ This came as a surprise to me.

I called all of my interviewees to inform them that the book was not going to be published in July 2017 and I spoke to one interviewee who said, ‘Well, we were all asked to withdraw our

1305 interviews from you, but I didn’t withdraw mine,’ he said, ‘because I sought legal advice and I was told that I did not have to do this.’ But he did say, ‘We were all called into a meeting and we were asked to withdraw our interviews.’

  1. Mrs Edge: I am trying to get it clear in my heard because I think I have heard a few

1310 conflicts there in that you have said you did not have individual names but you felt that the Children’s Centre did not want you to go ahead with things because you might have had names. When you have done your research and you have met with staff, no individual names of children who were in there have ever been discussed with you?

1315 Mrs Sharpe: You are talking about staff now that are dealing with children?

  1. Mrs Edge: No, when you have done your interviews with all these people with regard to your book and you have talked about them trying to send an e-mail round saying they do not have to speak to you. You had already spoken to a number of them. Were there ever any names 1320 mentioned?

Mrs Sharpe: Well, for example, when I was interviewing, say, the person who runs Thriving Families, which was a project the Children’s Centre was running – it was an early intervention project – I was talking to that person about how does Thriving Families work and I did ask her if I

1325 could interview someone from Thriving Families so that I would have a real-life example to use in the book to show what a fantastic intervention it is. So, together with the person that runs Thriving Families, I did meet a recipient of Thriving Families and I asked her how she would like to be referred to in the book, and she just said she would be quite happy being referred to by her first name.

1330 But in general I was dealing with the whole history of 150 years. I was not dealing necessarily with individuals, other than people I interviewed personally. So it is not as if I was interviewing staff members and they were reeling off lists of former looked after children or looked after children. That was not the point of the book. The book was about how the history of the Children’s Centre had evolved as an organisation.


  1. Ms Edge: But you did speak to a social worker, who gave you, it sounds like, quite a lot of detail? But hopefully we will get the opportunity to hear that.

Mrs Sharpe: She did give me a lot of detail, yes, but you are in this situation whereby

1340 individuals may be referred to … For example, with this social worker, I am respectful of confidentiality, so anything which has been told to me by an interviewee … I have not spoken with anyone else and I certainly would not put it into a book without express permission of that person.

29 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


All of my interviewees, I feel, trust me. They trusted me. I said to all of them, ‘When I finish

1345 my final draft of the book I will bring the chapter to you that you appear in and I will read you the chapter and then you can tell me whether you’re happy with that, and whether you want to be named or not named – it’s up to you.’

Q82. Ms Edge: When you talked about your first draft, which was solely for the purposes of

1350 the Children’s Centre, you did say there was a lot of extra data in there that would not have been used in your book.

Mrs Sharpe: That is right, yes.

1355 Q83. Ms Edge: So have you retracted that from the Children’s Centre now and you are the only person who holds that?

Mrs Sharpe: Yes. They certainly did not keep it, no; it is in my possession.

1360 Q84. The Chairman: The Children’s Centre said to us in their submission that you told them in June 2017 you had taken legal advice and decided not to go ahead with publishing the book. Do you see that as a correct statement of what you said to them in June 2017?

Mrs Sharpe: On 16th June 2017, I sent an e-mail to Ms Dawson saying:

I have decided not to go ahead with publishing the book at the end of July.

1365 She asked, on 16th June 2017:

Do you intend to publish an alternative version at a later date?

On 23rd June, I replied:

To answer your question, obviously I have researched and collated a lot of material which is of historical interest and I do not want to consign it to the waste bin. However, I have not yet made a decision on how best to present that material.

  1. The Clerk: While you are thinking about it, just another question about the process of commissioning the book. The conviction of the former head of the Knottfield Children’s Home in 1992 was reported in the Manx Independent on 22nd December 1992. Was it in 2013 or 2014

1370 you made contact with John Knight?

Mrs Sharpe: In 2013.

  1. The Clerk: In 2013, so that is some 21 years after the report appeared in the newspaper.

1375 Did John Knight know about the abuse?

Mrs Sharpe: He told me that after he had had his interview in the Isle of Man for the job of CEO and then returned to the UK to wait to hear whether he had got the job or been offered the job, he received an anonymous letter in the post – well, he said it was anonymous but he felt it

1380 was from one of the trustees that had interviewed him – saying, ‘Just so you know what you’re getting into,’ and contained in the envelope was a cutting from the newspaper outlining what had happened to Mr Marshall and how he had been imprisoned. Mr Knight never found out who sent him that.

30 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


1385 Q87. The Clerk: Can you say a bit more about the genesis of the idea of a 150-year

celebration? Was there any particular reason why they felt like doing it that way, by means of having a history book?

Mrs Sharpe: Well, Mr Knight had read a book written by Anna Magnusson called

1390 The Quarriers Story, which is a history of the Quarriers children’s homes in Scotland, and when I
met Mr Knight he said that he had been looking for someone to write a book similar to that about the history of the Children’s Centre because in general people believed the Children’s Centre to just be a nursery on Woodbourne Road; they did not realise that it had this very rich history.


  1. The Clerk: Does the Scottish book refer to historical abuse at all?

Mrs Sharpe: It does refer to abuse having taken place at the Scottish children’s homes; yes, it does refer to that.


  1. The Clerk: So do you think John Knight knew that one of the possible consequences of commissioning the book was to lift the lid on historical abuse?

Mrs Sharpe: He absolutely knew that, because that was one of the main topics that I brought

1405 up at our monthly meetings. We discussed how would we approach the material from the 1970s
because it would be very sensitive, and we talked a lot about how would people want to be named, could people be identified, what would be the effect on the Children’s Centre of publishing the stories of what happened in the 1970s. John Knight said very clearly the Children’s Centre must be big enough and brave enough to hold up its hands and say, ‘We made

1410 mistakes. We are not the same people working now that we were in the 1970s, but as an
organisation we had responsibility to look after these children and we failed.’ He was always very open about that and very certain that the abuse that happened in the 1970s should definitely be part of the book.

1415 Q90. The Clerk: I think we have had John Knight before this Committee when he was in post,

and I guess we could ask him this question but can you remember anything about his professional background before he was in the Isle of Man?

Mrs Sharpe: Before he joined the Children’s Centre he was working in the north east of

1420 England for an organisation that dealt with children who I think may have been excluded from
school, but I cannot say off the top of my head right now exactly what his job was.

The Clerk: Okay, thanks.

1425 Q91. Ms Edge: Can I just follow up: you said you were not going to be publishing the book in

July 2017, but then afterwards you talked about … that you had broadened the title of the book and you had had a grant from Culture Vannin, from Minister Thomas. So you are still considering publishing something and you have had a grant from Culture Vannin to do that?

1430 Mrs Sharpe: Yes. Obviously the Children’s Centre had withdrawn themselves from the book

entitled The History of the Children’s Centre. It was clear that they no longer wanted to be involved with that book at all, so I had to ask myself do I just put this research aside and let down my interviewees, who were all very adamant that they wanted their stories to be heard, or do I press on and try to get it published in some other way, and the most obvious way seemed

1435 to be to broaden out the remit of the book and make it a general history of looked after children
in the Isle of Man. Although the history of the Children’s Centre would play a big role in that,

31 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


because it was always the main children’s home, through broadening it out I could then go and seek funding for publication from various bodies – for example, Culture Vannin.

1440 Q92. Ms Edge: So can I ask what date you received that grant and do you think it is still appropriate if you have got the role of Children and Families within the Department of Health and Social Care?

Mrs Sharpe: I received the grant just before Christmas 2017 and I have two years to use that

1445 grant. I do not see a conflict because … Why would there be a conflict? The only reason I can see that there would be a conflict would be if I were to use confidential information which I was only party to through being the Member for Children and Families. But I would not do that. I would only continue in the same vein as I have done throughout the rest of the book, which is taking information which is in the public domain.


Q93. Ms Edge: We will be hearing from the Chief Constable and the Attorney General later this month. Anything you think we should be asking them?

Mrs Sharpe: Yes! I think that the public deserves a better understanding of how the Police

1455 deal with documentation, for example, in relation to child sexual abuse. I know that the 1970s were a different time, but the records appertaining to the allegations which children made in the 1970s, as far as I know, are not in the possession of the Police. I know it was a different time but I think the public deserves an explanation for why those records are not available. The Chief Constable referred in his evidence to the fact that there were records from the 1992 inquiry on

1460 behalf of Isle of Man Constabulary but that the Constabulary routinely destroys material at set periods. I would just like confirmation on how documents are kept now and for how long they are kept.

I would like to know that there has been a thorough investigation into whether there was a paedophile ring in operation on the Isle of Man during the 1970s. Clearly the manager of the

1465 children’s home was sexually abusing the children. We now know that the vicar of St Ninian’s, who the children went to on a Sunday from the children’s home, has been convicted for child abuse. We saw in the Isle of Man newspapers recently that a headmaster at Murray’s Road School … I cannot remember the details, but the newspaper article I read connected the headmaster of Murray’s Road School with child sexual abuse and the children at the Children’s

1470 Centre were sent to Murray’s Road School. So you have got a vicar, you have got a manager of a children’s home and you have got a headmaster: how many other people were involved with abusing children during the 1970s?

We know – well, I know from having spoken to interviewees who were at the children’s home in the 1970s – that children were abused when they went on holiday to the UK under

1475 Mr Marshall, so did this extend out into a UK-wide ring?

I would like to know whether anyone has talked to members of the committee from the 1970s and 1980s and what their explanation was for closing down the residential unit at Knottfield, because for the first time in 114 years they decided not to have a residential unit and it was very soon obvious that there was a need for a residential unit, because that is why it

1480 reopened. But if you look at the newspapers at the time, one of the reasons given was that there was a need for a residential unit because at times parents liked to go on holiday without their children and that is the only reason why the Isle of Man might need a residential unit. It was so obvious – it is obvious now, looking back and reading that in the newspapers from the 1980s – that there was a reluctance to admit that there was a need even for looked after children at the

1485 time and there was a definite sweeping under the carpet of … well, of the whole thing, of the abuse, of … yes.

32 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


  1. The Chairman: Sadly, we will not be able to interview Mr Dowty, but do you have the names of the other people who were on the committee at that time?


Mrs Sharpe: Not in front of me, although they are available in the records.

The Chairman: Okay, if you have it in your files, if you could forward the other names, then we can obviously look at as well.

1495 What do you think the Committee should recommend to Tynwald?

Mrs Sharpe: I think the Committee should recommend that further investigations need to be made into child sexual abuse of looked after children in the Isle of Man prior to the 1970s and really that this inquiry should stay open further, because I know that there are more people out

1500 there who were abused during the 1970s, who for many reasons have not come forward. But perhaps now that these people have come forward there might be more.

Also, there was abuse occurring, according to my interviewees, after the 1970s in the Isle of Man, not necessarily at the Children’s Centre. But how do all these things connect up? We do not know yet and we do not know, the children who were being abused in the 1980s, whether

1505 their perpetrators were connected to those that were abusing during the 1970s. So I think that there has to be an opportunity for people to come forward pre-1970s as well as 1970s and post-1970s.

I think that there has to be a clear message coming through from Tynwald that Tynwald acknowledges that the Isle of Man Government was responsible for looked after children from

1510 1953 and that, even though we are talking about a different era, the children that were abused deserve at the very least an official apology on behalf of the Isle of Man Government.

I would like to see at statutory level something put in place whereby looked after children can always know that there is someone to talk to within Government, there is someone they can go to in order to access any services they might need, whether it is counselling or whether it is

1515 psychological services, because as adults looked after children continue to carry inside of them that looked after child forever.

My interviewees have told me about the day that they left the children’s home with a carrier bag. That is all they had – all their possessions in a carrier bag – and they went out into the world and they had no one. They knew there was nobody who was going to look out for them,

1520 there was no one who was going to support them in that role of parent for the rest of their lives. That has a huge effect on that person, on how that person develops relationships in the future and on how that person relates to their own children.

I have seen, through my research, that in the Isle of Man we are still looking after the same families that we have been looking after for generations because that cycle has not been

1525 broken, because those children, once they leave care, are not receiving the support that they need in order to go forward into their adult lives.

  1. Ms Edge: I am just interested … Obviously you have stated that you have been elected as an MLC since you have decided to continue with the book. Have you got a date you are

1530 planning to publish that?

Mrs Sharpe: I do not have a date as yet, because I have not been working on the book since I became an MLC, but I will have to find some time over the next two years to complete the book. But the main body of work is there already.


  1. The Chairman: Anything else you would like to say?

Mrs Sharpe: Yes, there is one thing. In relation to the committee during the 1970s, as I said, I would like, if possible, for members of the committee who are still remaining to be talked to

1540 about whether they suspected that abuse was going on.

33 SAPRC-HCA/17-18


One thing that has always bugged me is in the 1976 annual report Mr Marshall, when talking about how he had moved his sleeping quarters from one of the houses on Woodbourne Road into the other – the other being the house that the children slept in – does refer in the report to:

The unforeseen ban on the use of our attics in Knottfield after nine months has made our own personal accommodation rather less than satisfactory.

So for a while he was banned from using the attic, and the fact that he used the term ‘ban’

1545 and the fact that when you look back he was very open about what he was doing in front of the committee – it was almost like, when you look back, he was parading his behaviour in front of everyone. The fact that he uses the term ‘ban’ suggests to me that someone in authority had told him, ‘You’re not sleeping in the attic anymore,’ because possibly they knew what was going on: they knew that he was abusing children in the attic. I just feel that people knew what was

1550 going on but nothing was ever said and nothing was ever done.

  1. The Clerk: When you say he was parading what he was doing in front of people, what do you mean?

1555 Mrs Sharpe: Well, for example, he was always very profuse in meetings thanking everyone for their support, so whenever he did something which with hindsight was part of his grooming process … For example, he immediately increased wages, increased the children’s pocket money allowance, bought a television, a radio, all kinds of luxury items that managers of the home had never bought before, but he bought them all at once. And he would always say, ‘And thank you

1560 to the committee for supporting me and what I’m doing; thank you to the committee for supporting my decision to move our annual holidays from Butlin’s’ – which had been a very public way of having a holiday with children – ‘to self-catering accommodation.’ He would say, ‘We had a wonderful time in our self-catering accommodation this summer – we were the only people in the building.’ He was very open about –


  1. The Clerk: So this was in the minutes of the committee meetings?

Mrs Sharpe: Yes, about thanking the committee for being behind the decisions that he was making, which with hindsight I think were part of a whole grooming process. He was always very

1570 public about thanking the committee for their support in allowing him to do these things. For example, when he moved into the attic he profusely thanked them and even when he says that he has had an unforeseen ban on the use of the attic, there were:

other difficulties of a more personal nature

which were caused by his not being able to use the attic –

but the overwhelming feeling I have is one of continued support and confidence, for which I wish to thank you, Mr Chairman and members of the committee.

So, yes, I just feel that he was open in displaying what he was doing, really.

The Chairman: Okay, I think you have come to the end of your contribution for today, anyway. Thank you very much for all the work that you have put into your presentation and for the research, which is obviously going to greatly assist the work of the Committee.

That will bring the public session of the Committee to a close for today. Thank you.

Mrs Sharpe: Thank you.

The Committee sat in private at 12.21 p.m.

34 SAPRC-HCA/17-18

  • The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers.
  • National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups.
  • One in Four [C]
  • Havoca [D].
  • Useful post on Triggers [E]  from SurvivorsJustice [F] blog.
  • Jim Hoppers pages on Mindfulness [G]  and Meditation [H] may be useful.
  • Hwaairfan blog An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma  [J]
  • Survivors UK for victims and survivors of male rape or the sexual abuse of men [K]
  • Voicing CSA group [L] helps arrange survivors meetings in your area
  • A Prescription for me blog Various emotional support links [M]
  • Fresh Start Foundation Scottish not for profit group, helping child sexual abuse victims & survivors  [N]


[1] 2018 May 15 IOM Today Betrayal of Knottfield’s children

[2] 2016 Feb 16 Cathy Fox Blog  Isle of Man: Counselling for Victims / Survivors

[3] 2015 May 25 Cathy Fox Blog Child Sexual Abuse in the Isle of Man

[4] 2016 Feb 15 Cathy Fox Blog IOM Child Sexual Abuse Update Feb 2016

[5] 2015 May 25  Cathy Fox Blog 10 Steps on How to Research Child Sexual Abuse in your area – A Rough Guide Uses IOM as an example

[6] 2017 Oct 13 cathy fox blog Submissions to the Investigation into Knottfield Childrens Home, Isle of Man

[7] 2017 Aug 11 cathy fox blog Isle of Man – Paedophile Paradise for downloading child abuse pictures

[8] 2017 Aug 3 Cathy Fox Blog Isle of Man Knottfield Child Sexual Abuse Investigation Aug 2017


Let justice be done though the heavens fall – Fiat justitia ruat cælum

About cathy fox blog on Child Abuse

the truth will out, the truth will shout, the truth will set us free...
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9 Responses to Knottfield Inquiry Isle of Man – Standing Committee Report 3 May 2018

  1. Thank you for keeping the public informed.

    Liked by 1 person

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  4. Pingback: Report on Child Sexual Abuse at Knottfield Childrens Home, Isle of Man, Oct 2018 | cathy fox blog on child abuse

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  7. Pingback: Joseph Henry Marshall, Serial Child Abuser, Knottfield, IOM – Foxy's Extra Blog

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