Number of Oakwood claims ‘will reach 100’

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The number of former Oakwood School pupils to file compensation claims against Suffolk County Council could reach 100 by Christmas, according to the complainant’s solicitor.

On December 6, Suffolk County Council was granted an extension to file its response to the claims of alleged physical, emotional and in some cases sexual abuse perpetrated by some of the Oakwood School staff.

Currently, 95 former pupils, represented by Cambridge based solicitors Andrew Grove and Co, are taking action for compensation.

Andrew Grove said: “We are now agreeing on a timetable with solicitors from the other side.

“It effectively means by next November the defendants will have to decide their position.

“We have got 95 claimants represented by us so far.

“After Christmas we will be up to 100 without a doubt.”

If the complainants’ claims are deemed valid, the council’s compensation payout could reach millions.

A Suffolk Police spokeswoman confirmed that they were investigating abuse allegations from 95 former Oakwood pupils.

She said: “The number of complainants make it a sizeable inquiry and one for which it will take considerable time to conduct a thorough investigation.

“We are not prepared to confirm how many people allegations have been made against but we can confirm allegations have been made against a number of people.”

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “The parties involved have agreed an extension to the period within which Suffolk County Council must file its response to the civil claim brought by former pupils at Oakwood School and are currently preparing a timetable for managing these claims.

“Once agreed, the parties will submit the timetable to the court for approval.

“In the meantime, the separate police investigation continues.

“It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the particulars of the allegations during a police investigation.

“We would however urge people who feel they have any relevant information to contact police to help with their inquiries.”

Oakwood School opened in 1974 as a special school for pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties.

It closed in December 1999 after the governing body of the school expressed serious concerns about the health and safety of the pupils and staff.

Although it later reopened, it was closed for good the next year.