I was interested to read today about the conviction of Simon Harris, a British charity boss who preyed on vulnerable Kenyan street children. According to reports Harris would drive into small towns under the pretence of a charity worker offering street children money, food and shelter to go home with him. He was found guilty of 7 charges of indecent and sexual assault on the children in Birmingham Crown Court.
My interest in the case as a lawyer specialising in compensation claims for victims of abuse is the extent to which these children could pursue claims in the UK. Harris’s case is the first of its kind to employ legislation which allows the accused to be tried for sex offences abroad if the offence is also illegal in that country.
Many people do not realise that even though sexual abuse takes place in a different jurisdiction a Claimant may still be able to bring a claim in England where the employers of the abuser are based here.
There is a growing number of claims particularly arising from the 1970’s and 1980’s where charities or churches may have sent employees abroad in a missionary capacity and where such employees have abused their position in a similar way to Simon Harris.
The likelihood is that the Kenyan street children could pursue a claim against the charity which employed Mr Harris and that there are many more children in Africa and possibly other areas such as Eastern Europe who have suffered abuse at the hands of charity workers or even employees of English companies with interests abroad who could now bring damages claims in this country.