Scouts 'silenced' two women sexually abused by leader while they were teenagers

In an exclusive interview with ITV News, two women said they were left with “no option” but to speak publicly after the Scouts “refused to investigate”.

Two women have accused the Scouts of “silencing them” after claiming they were sexually abused by their scout leader when they were teenagers.

In an exclusive interview with ITV News, they said they were left with “no option” but to speak publicly after the Scouts “refused to investigate”.

Anna and Katy (whose names have been changed to protect their identities) – now in their 30s - claim that Phil Perks, from Dinas Powys in the Vale of Glamorgan, was allowed to keep working with children for years after they told a Scout Commissioner about his alleged crimes.

Anna and Katy said Phil Perks continued to work with children for decades, despite their complaints to the Scouts about his alleged crimes. Credit: ITV News

Perks, known locally as Pinky, led Les Pugh’s Own Explorer Scout Unit in Penarth near Cardiff, for two decades.

After learning years later that Perks was still a scout leader in the area and had received scouting’s highest award in 2020, the two felt they had no option but to contact South Wales Police.

Perks, who was arrested and questioned, denied the charges. A police spokesman said he died while on bail “prior to a charging decision being reached by the Crown Prosecution Service”.

It’s believed he’d taken his own life but an inquest is yet to be held.

Justice, closure and an apology is what Anna and Katy hope to gain from the inquiry. Credit: ITV News

Anna told ITV News they had come forward publicly out of concern for others.

“We've been in talks with them (Scouts) for months now and they have continuously stonewalled my requests for them to inform former and current members that a scout leader was suspended following an arrest for allegations of sexual assault.

“I feel like it's left me no option but to come forward publicly because I'm so concerned that there are other other people who have been abused by the same person.”

After reporting what had happened the pair say they were 'blindsided' and brought to meet Perks in a local park - without their parents knowledge

When Anna and Katy first reported the alleged abuse, they say they were “blindsided” with an after-school meeting in a local park where they were encouraged to “talk it out” with Perks.

“We didn't expect that we would have to confront him,” said Anna.

“We thought that our allegations were being taken seriously and some action would be taken. We didn't think that that action would involve confronting him. I found it extremely distressing. I couldn't face him and I left the park. I didn't speak to him. I couldn't even look at him. It was awful.”

The two say they reported the alleged abuse to a Scout Commissioner in 2016, but Perks was allowed to continue as a leader until his suspension from the organisation days before his death.

Katy, who along with Anna is now pursuing a civil claim against the Scouts, says their reports repeatedly “fell on deaf ears.”

She said: “It sort of feels like what is the point of reporting it, because if it gets escalated nothing comes of it. Even if the highest level of safeguarding are aware of it, nothing comes of it.”

“The Scouts not informing members means that we won't know if there are any other people that had been affected by this,” said Anna.

“Anyone else who's been affected or who's been abused by him won't get the opportunity to heal, they won't get the opportunity to repair the guilt, the shame, the isolation that comes with sexual abuse, especially amongst children.”

Leading child sex abuse lawyer Dino Nocivelli wonders if the case is 'the tip of the iceberg'

Leading child sex abuse lawyer Dino Nocivelli, who is representing the two women, says this case exposes “significant” and “systematic” failings by the Scouts.

“And when that happens in one case, is this the tip of the iceberg? How many other times has the system failed?”

A Scouts spokesman said: “The safety of young people in our care is our number one priority.

“We have been communicating with the two women who shared their story with you. We understand how they feel and we are dismayed that they feel they have not been heard.

“We are sorry for the distress that this has caused. We want to be clear that we never silence victims. We have taken the information we have been given very seriously.

“This is a complex and detailed case. We have been working with the Police on the issues it raises, particularly around the concern of other potential victims. We are unable to comment further in detail on this case due to continued legal matters but what we can say we have set up a learning review because of the concerns expressed.

“We have a strict policy for safeguarding the welfare of all members in our care. We are bound to the highest standards of safeguarding practice. We work with statutory agencies and recognised experts to regularly review, improve, and instil our standards in everyone involved with The Scouts. We are committed to a safe, trusted environment and culture that prioritises safeguarding and that puts young people first. We share this commitment on our website."

If you have a story in relation to this issue you would like to share, please get in touch with: investigations@itv.com

If you've been affected by any of the issues concerning child abuse, you can find more information about help available through the following links:

  • The Survivors Trust provides support and advice for victims of sexual abuse, whatever their background. They can provide help for survivors of abuse, whether or not you choose to report what has happened to you.

  • The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) provides support specifically for people who were abused during their childhood. They offer confidential advice through their support line - and calls do not show up on your phone bill. You can call from 10am - 9pm on 0808 801 0331.

  • The NSPCC works to prevent cruelty against children, including sexual abuse. They also run a telephone helpline specifically for children. Anyone under eighteen can call Childline on 0800 1111. They also provide advice for parents on how to speak to their children about the issue of sexual abuse.

  • New Pathways is the largest sexual violence support provider in Wales, with 30 years’ experience of delivering specialist therapeutic support to adults and children affected by the trauma of rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse. https://www.newpathways.org.uk/)