The youth charity Sea Cadets has apologised to the victims of any abuse amid reports it paid half a million pounds to the targets of a former instructor alleged to have sexually abused children over four decades.
The Guardian newspaper reported that eight survivors of abuse by Peter Sherwin, who died in 2014, had received payments from the charity in out-of-court settlements.
Sea Cadets declined to comment on the sums involved.
In a statement, it said the first the charity knew of any abuse claims against Sherwin was in June 2013, when it was contacted by West Midlands Police.
Sherwin was suspended when he was arrested in October of that year, the charity said. The police case was dropped the following month because of a lack of evidence.
The charity said it wanted anybody who had any evidence of abuse to come forward and was still investigating the claims.
“Sea Cadets unreservedly apologises for any hurt or anger felt by any victim of abuse,” the statement said.
“Sea Cadets takes safeguarding concerns very seriously and has a zero tolerance approach to any abuse. Our specialist safeguarding team manages all safeguarding cases in line with the charity’s safeguarding policy and procedures and statutory responsibilities.
“The charity has a 24/7 safeguarding incident reporting line. All staff and volunteers are recruited following safer recruitment practices, including enhanced criminal record checks for all who work directly with children and young people.”
Sea Cadets said that as part of the training of all its cadets, it had a dedicated programme called Shout! that teaches them to identify and report concerns.