May 2011

Paedophile with a long history of abuse was able to foster a child after council failures

A paedophile was allowed to foster a child despite his history of abusing young boys, it has emerged.

David Mason, who is in his 50s, did not have his identity checked by Kent County Council, which permitted the placement.

And only a quick check on his home following his application.

The council has now been heavily criticised by a High Court judge.

Formal checks on Mason’s application may have exposed his true identity and a history of sexual abuse, said Mr Justice Baker.

He urged the authority to ‘urgently review its practice’ saying he hoped those responsible ‘learn the lessons’.

Kent County Council has publicly apologised, admitting the care and attention ‘was not good enough’.

The case is the latest in a series of distressing episodes for Kent social services, which was ordered by Ofsted to improve child protection services after an inspection last year found them to be inadequate.

It emerged from a High Court judgment delivered behind closed doors last month, which has just been made public.

The case would have remained secret had not Mr Justice Baker decided, in view of the “alarming matters” that emerged, to allow the ‘unusually extensive and troubling’ wider issues it raised to be publicised.

Had the council carried out its duties properly and conducted a proper assessment of the man, the fact that he was a paedophile would have come to light sooner.

Malcolm Newsam, KCC’s interim director of families and social care, said: ‘What happened in this case is deeply regrettable.

We have been absolutely focused on recognising our shortcomings and weaknesses.’

‘A plan to make sure substantial improvements are made to the services we provide to children in Kent is already being actioned.’

It has been revealed that 2,700 cases referred to Kent County Council had not been assigned to a dedicated social worker at the height of the crisis in its child protection services.

Mason was able to adopt a fresh identity after assistance from his local MP in acquiring a new National Insurance number.

Mason convinced his MP that he was suffering from amnesia, failing to mention that he was wanted by police in Scotland for sexual offences.

On the back of a letter from the MP, Mason was also able to secure an extension to his rented accommodation.

It was only after allegations unconnected to the fostering case were made in July 2009 that his true identity was revealed.

Mason, who went by the name David Mathews, was arrested and fingerprinted and the lie finally exposed.

Mason begged to be locked up and have the key thrown away after admitting a string of horrific crimes against children aged between five and 14.

The bearded and balding art tutor was given an indefinite term of imprisonment in December 2009 after admitting 24 charges including rape.

He had previously been jailed for three years in 1982 for abusing a boy Scout.