Friday, 8th February 2019

On the first day of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) investigation into legal measures to protect children outside the UK from sexual abuse by those with links to England and Wales, Bharti Patel, the CEO of ECPAT UK, will provide evidence on the failures of UK Government bodies and others to prevent UK national child sex offenders from travelling abroad to sexually exploit children. The inquiry will assess the efficacy of the current legislative framework in preventing and responding to these crimes.

ECPAT UK’s evidence has been collected through its 25 year history of monitoring cases of child sexual exploitation abroad by UK nationals, as well as its partnerships with local organisations through the ECPAT International network.

The inquiry will consist of public hearings taking place from 10am at Inquiry Hearing Centre, 18 Pocock Street, London, SE1 0BW from Monday 11th until Friday 15th February 2019. Witnesses include:

  • Bharti Patel, CEO, ECPAT UK;
  • Christine Beddoe, freelance consultant and former Director of ECPAT UK;
  • Seila Samleang, Executive Director of Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) Cambodia;
  • Marie-Laure Lemineur, Deputy Director for Programmes, of ECPAT International;
  • Cecilia French, Director of the Public Protection Directorate, Home Office;
  • Robert Jones, Threat Leadership Director for the National Crime Agency (NCA)
  • Chief Constable Michelle Skeer, National Police Lead for the Management of Sexual Offenders and Violent Offenders (MOSOVO), National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC);
  • Gregor McGill, Director of Legal Services, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS);
  • Peter Jones, Chief Operating Officer, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)

ECPAT UK has consistently flagged concerns about the protection of children outside the UK from abuse and exploitation by UK nationals, including the following:

  • Civil orders prohibiting foreign travel are not used;
  • There are failures to investigate reported cases of abuse outside the UK;
  • There are failures and delays in collecting evidence to achieve successful convictions in the UK;
  • There are failures to identify and safeguard the children exploited by UK nationals abroad;
  • UK child sex offenders are able to travel abroad to commit offences against children with impunity;
  • There is a lack of international cooperation between international law enforcement and government agencies;
  • There is a lack of compensation for child victims.

The charity has campaigned for 25 years for increased protection of children abroad from UK sex offenders, as well as the obligations of the UK Government to prevent its citizens from offending abroad and bring them to justice.

Despite a catalogue of evidence documenting the sexual exploitation of children abroad by UK nationals, the actual number of victims remains unknown. In an increasingly interconnected world, more people are on the move and even the most remote parts of the planet are now within reach. The scale, severity of abuse and impact on children cannot be underestimated. The landmark IICSA investigation will now examine the extent to which institutions and organisations based in England and Wales have met their responsibilities to protect children outside the United Kingdom from sexual abuse, following serious allegations of abuse by individuals working for British organisations and institutions abroad.



  1. The Inquiry is holding a week of public hearings in this investigation from Monday 11th February 2019 to Friday 15th February 2019. These will take place daily from 10.00 to 16.00 at the Inquiry’s hearing centre, 18 Pocock Street, London SE1 0BW.

  2. The timetable for the week is available here: 
  1. Given its expertise and experience in this field, ECPAT UK is a ‘core participant’ in this investigation. It is represented by a legal team: solicitor Zubier Yazdani, Deighton Pierce Glynn, and counsel Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Keina Yoshida, Doughty Street Chambers. 

  2. ECPAT UK’s CEO, Bharti Patel, will be available after the first day of the hearing concludes on Monday 11th February to give media interviews, as well as after the conclusion of each subsequent day of hearings.


ECPAT UK is a leading children’s rights organisation campaigning to protect children from trafficking and transnational exploitation. We support children everywhere to uphold their right sand to live a life free from abuse and exploitation.

ECPAT UK was established in 1994 as the UK member of the ECPAT International network, with a mandate to campaign against child sex tourism and lobby for laws and policies to protect children and prosecute UK child sex offenders who exploit children abroad. In 1997, as a result of these campaigns the UK Government introduced new legislation to prosecute UK nationals for abusing children abroad. In July 2004 became a UK registered charity

Press contact

Sinead Geoghegan, Communications and Media Manager at ECPAT UK: [email protected], 0203 903 4630