A review into years of alleged abuse at a Church of England children’s home in Gravesend is based on terms that are “factually incorrect” according to one of its former residents.
Campaigner Teresa Cooper, 48, who says she was forcibly tranquilised at Kendall House between 1981 and 1984, has questioned two of the review panel’s points of reference. They state that the home’s drug regime was brought to an end when psychiatrist Dr Marenthiran Perinpanyagam retired in 1983, but Ms Cooper claims it continued until 1986.
Also stated is that complaints and civil claims against the Church of England started in 2006, much later than Ms Cooper says she began her fight for justice.
Teresa Cooper received a payout after claiming she suffered years of abuse at Kendall House
She said: “I fought for that review for 30 years and they have cut out all my evidence. There are a lot of us that will not participate because the terms are incorrect.
“For 30 years I have been strong but this has broken me. I have lost everything fighting this. We can’t change what they did to us, but we sure as hell can help the children that it has affected.”
Ms Cooper is warning others that their participation will not give them the answers they deserve. She is calling on them to provide evidence for an ongoing legal claim against the church.
She hopes this can give a voice to those who are said to have become ill as a result of their treatment at the home in Pelham Road, as well as their children and grandchildren, many of whom suffered birth defects.
If successful, it could secure damages for up to 25 children who it is claimed suffered as a result of drug use at Kendall House. Ms Cooper’s daughter Sarah, 23, was born with a cleft palate. Her two sons and grandchild also have serious health issues.
The claim is being worked on by Madeline Seibert, a medical negligence partner at Essex law firm Attwaters Jameson Hill.
Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev James Langstaff, commissioned the review.
She said: “My clients have reservations about the independence and scope of the Church of England Review panel in relation to the practices that took place.
“The terms of reference state that Dr Perinpanyagam’s successor did not continue the drug regime but my clients believe that abuse took place both before 1967 and continued after the retirement of Dr Perinpanyagam in 1983.”
“They are also concerned that the review is not looking at the wider implications. I have raised these matter with the Church of England Review panel and it has confirmed that the terms were set by the Diocese of Rochester and cannot be changed.”
“The women residents of Kendall House need justice.” Lawyer Madeline Seibert.
The issue of birth defects and medical problems of the children and grandchildren of former residents are also not part of the terms of reference.
Mrs Seibert described their absence from the review as very disappointing.
She said: “After everything they have been through my clients deserve to have a thorough investigation into what happened and answers to their concerns about any possible impact of the drug regime on their children and grandchildren.
“The women residents of Kendall House need justice.”
Members of the panel were contacted but did not respond before the Messenger went to print.
Kendall House was opened in the 1920s as a home for young girls and operated under control from the dioceses of Rochester and Canterbury, with residents sent to stay by the local authority. It closed in 1986.