Oakwood inquiry ‘one of the largest of its type’

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COURT proceedings have been served on Suffolk County Council on behalf of 75 former pupils of Oakwood School, in Stowmarket.

The ex-pupils are taking action to obtain compensation for alleged physical, emotional and, in some cases, sexual abuse perpetrated on them by some of the Oakwood School staff. The county council now has 28 days to file a defence or admit liability.

A spokesman from Suffolk Constabulary confirmed that they have received 63 complaints of alleged abuse at the school but had so far made no arrests.

He said: “This is one of the largest investigations of this type that we have been involved with.”

The case is being handled by Cambridge-based solicitors Andrew Grove and Co.

Mr Grove said: “The county council must confront these serious allegations of an institutionalised violent regime at Oakwood where harm became the norm.”

A spokesman from Suffolk County Council said he could not comment on the case.

He said: “It would be inappropriate for us to comment 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.