Scout leader in sex ring quiz

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A FORMER scoutmaster has been arrested and bailed as part of a major inquiry into historic claims of a child sex ring at a special needs school.

Ron Parker, 70, - a former Leigh-based scoutmaster - was arrested at his home on Wednesday morning following allegations of four decades of abuse at Swaylands School, in Penshurst, Kent - an institution for boys with learning, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Police from Greater Manchester Police worked with Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate to detain Mr Parker, during the dawn raids.

He was interviewed by officers who travelled to the North West to question him on suspicion of child sex offences and later bailed without charge.

It follows the arrests of three others as part of the investigation into previously unreported offences of child sex abuse at the school between 1967 and 1993.

A team of up to 40 officers has allegedly uncovered evidence of widespread abuse involving more than 20 victims between 1967 and 1993.

Two men have already been convicted, back in 1993, for six offences each of sexual abuse against children at the school.

Swaylands School was set up in 1942 for pupils with learning, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

It closed in the early 1990s amid allegations some of its pupils aged between seven and 19 were treated cruelly.

Det Chief Insp Paul Fotheringham, of Kent and Essex Police’s Serious Crime Directorate, said the inquiry followed “new information” from a victim.

He said: “This is a complex inquiry, where we have traced many people and records spanning a number of years. Kent and Essex Police take allegations of previously unreported offending seriously and every effort is made to investigate whenever appropriate and possible.

“We have also been working with a number of charities to ensure that appropriate support is in place for the victims that we have been speaking with.”

Anyone with information about the case can contact officers on 01622 654852 or victims looking for support can call Napac on 0800 085 3330.