A convicted British paedophile is being sued for damages by five young people who claim they were sexually exploited by him overseas, in what is thought to be the first case of its kind.
The five will give evidence to the High Court via video link about abuse they said they suffered while Douglas Slade was living in the Philippines.
Slade says the claims against him are a “total fabrication”.
The judge in the case said Slade, who had been extradited to the UK the year before, was “wholly unrepentant” over the offences that he had committed between 1965 and 1980.
Slade was a founder member of the Paedophile Information Exchange and actively campaigned for sex between children and paedophiles to be legalised in the 1970s and 1980s.
‘People avoid me’
Tuesday’s case starting in London is believed to be the first time alleged foreign victims of sexual abuse, said to have taken place abroad, have brought an action against a British national in the UK.
Slade moved to the Philippines in 1985, buying a house in a poor neighbourhood. Families complained that he enticed children into his home and sexually abused them.
He lived in the country for 30 years and despite several investigations, was never successfully prosecuted there.
The four young men and one teenage boy at the centre of the new case are suing Slade for “personal injuries arising out of sexual abuse” and will give evidence from Manila. The youngest was 10 at the time the abuse is alleged to have started.
One of them told the BBC he was repeatedly sexually abused by Slade, saying: “Many people avoid me and think that I have a disease because of what I did. I’m teased. I am too embarrassed to get out of the house.”
‘Not beyond reach’
The father of one of those suing Slade urged other alleged victims and their families to “fight for their rights”. He added: “They should be like us, we did not get blinded by money, we fought for it because we fought for the rights of our children.”
Alan Collins, their solicitor, said those who travel abroad to sexually abuse children and young people need to get the message that “you are not beyond reach”.
Father Shay Cullen, a campaigner whose work helped secure Slade’s extradition, wants the case to serve as a warning to travelling sex offenders.
Father Cullen, who runs an organisation called Preda in the Philippines which helps vulnerable children, said: “We will pursue (them) whenever possible and we continue to search and catch them here in the Philippines and where they will be, we will pursue them with legal action.
“This is a horrendous crime and the children continue to suffer all their lives.”
Slade has not attended court so far but may appear via a video link from prison.
The case is expected to last three days.