Pensioner who was abused while in care slams Portsmouth Lib Dem for lack of support

Les Cummings with the apology from Tory council leader Cllr Donna Jones
Les Cummings with the apology from Tory council leader Cllr Donna Jones
Share this article
Have your say

A PENSIONER who was abused while in care has blasted the former deputy leader of Portsmouth City Council for not taking him seriously.

Les Cummings, 70, was dismayed after Cllr Hugh Mason (pictured) told The News when the Lib Dems were in power that he shouldn’t get an apology for his experiences as a child in a council care home.

JPNS AGENDA Councillor Hugh Mason ENGPPP00120120726123104

JPNS AGENDA Councillor Hugh Mason ENGPPP00120120726123104

Cllr Mason said there wasn’t enough evidence showing Mr Cummings had been abused – and his campaign for justice since 2006 had stirred up too much ‘ill-will’ with councillors.

The new Tory-led council has since given Mr Cummings an apology after reviewing council records showing he had flagged up incidents of abuse at the time they happened.

Mr Cummings has now written to Cllr Mason criticising his stance and said he should have been supportive and listened to him.

Mr Cummings wrote: ‘Donna was able to write this (apology) because she had read these reports that show evidence of the abuse.

‘But not one Lib Dem councillor wanted to see this evidence in spite of the fact that I wrote to all councillors in 2007.’ He added: ‘There is real shame in what you said but I doubt if you will ever see it for yourself.

‘I can tell you that since the public apology, I have been approached almost on a daily basis by unknown people who congratulate me on winning my apology after such a long battle.’

Mr Cummings first began campaigning for an apology in 2006 but was told over the years since that it did not have the support of the Lib Dem administration.

Cllr Mason said his stance won’t change unless he sees concrete evidence showing that Mr Cummings was abused.

He also said it wouldn’t have been right for the Lib Dems to have issued an apology in the run up to the local elections since it would be seen as a political move.

Cllr Mason said: ‘I can understand him being angry because he has argued his case forcibly over many years, and what I was saying at that time in those circumstances was that it wasn’t sensible to go ahead with an apology.

‘If there is very clear evidence that Leslie Cummings suffered abuse, I will make a personal apology to him for having doubted that matter.’

But Cllr Mason admitted he thought this was a situation Mr Cummings would probably ‘take to the grave with him.’

Cllr Mason also thought the situation would have been put to bed years ago after Mr Cummings got a £3,000 payoff from the council in 2009 for what happened in return that he did not pursue legal action.