Family of boy, 16, who died on camping trip were LIED to as Scouts

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NORTH WALES – The family of a 16-year-old boy who died after falling 200ft off a cliff edge were lied to as the Scout Association was worried about ‘reputational damage’, an inquest has heard.

How it Happened

Ben Leonard from Stockport, suffered a serious head injury when he fell from the Great Orme in Llandudno, North Wales.

The 16-year-old was on a trip with the Reddish Explorer Scouts when the tragedy happened on August 26, 2018.

An inquest into Ben’s death at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, has heard suggestions the ‘approach’ taken by the Scouts was to blame the boy for the tragedy amid worries over ‘reputational damage’ to the organisation.

Steve Holloway, at the time the Scouts’ county commissioner for Greater Manchester East, said he felt ‘shame’ about his involvement in the episode following Ben’s death.

Where it all Went Wrong

But Mr Holloway agreed he knew from the day of the 16-year-old’s death that things had gone ‘horribly wrong’.

The hearing heard group scout leader, Brian Garraway was not aware of the need to carry out written risk assessments before the trip.

Court Heard

Mr Garraway, who was the group scout leader, though not on the trip, told the inquest that he did carry out ‘effectively’ the same process as a risk assessment but these were done verbally during meetings with other scout leaders.

He told the hearing: ‘I genuinely believe risk assessments were being undertaken on every activity, even if they were not written down.’

Bernard Richmond KC, representing the Leonard family for law firm Fieldfisher, asked Mr Holloway: ‘You knew at the time that there were huge problems, didn’t you? You knew that there hadn’t been a risk assessment? You knew that there hadn’t been proper documentation? That there was no first aider?’

‘Yes,’ Mr Holloway replied.

Mr Holloway, who was not on the trip but was called in as the county commissioner, denied ever telling Ben’s family ‘people who try and take on the Scouts are never successful’ and that ‘no one can touch the Scouts’.

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‘Don’t Worry, They are not Going to Sue’

Mr Holloway agreed he told others responsible for safety in the Scouts Association ‘don’t worry, they are not going to sue’.

But he said it was not ‘my place’ to tell the family the truth about problems with the trip.

Mr Richmond continued: ‘So you were deliberately lying to Ben’s parents? And you were there as a representative of the Scouts?’

‘Yes,’ Mr Holloway replied.

The witness agreed from the ‘very outset’ that the Scouts were worried about reputational damage and they were trying to encourage the view that the Scout leaders had done nothing wrong.

Mr Richmond added: ‘Are you proud of the Scouts?’

‘No,’ Mr Holloway said.

What the Suggestion was Initially

Jackie Leonard, the boy’s mother, tearfully told the hearing her family’s treatment by the Scouts was ‘disgusting’ with initial suggestions the teenager was ‘wild’ and his death his own fault.

Two previous inquests were scheduled and aborted until the current hearing – where the Scouts for the first time admitted responsibility and apologised for failings – some five-and-a-half years after Ben’s death.

The inquest continues.

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Ola Alabi
Ola Moses is a certified writer, He writes technically and creatively. He is the CEO of WORDSWORTH, a house where writing is made easier for all. He is a content creator at EsB TV, since 2019. He is a young man that showcases professionalism in all that he does, he was announced as Child and Green Foundation Person of the Year 2018, one of his many lists of honours.

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