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Army cadet instructors claim they were 'told to keep quiet' about shamed sex abuse police doctor

PUBLISHED: 08:58 24 March 2018 | UPDATED: 16:57 24 March 2018

Hugh O'Neill worked as a GP in Horsford. Photo: Archant

Hugh O'Neill worked as a GP in Horsford. Photo: Archant

Archant

The Army has refused to answer questions about how a shamed doctor worked with its cadets for 11 years after he was dismissed by police - because it would breach the convicted rapist’s data protection.

Hugh ONeill admitting indecently assaulting 13 officers over the course of a decade. Photo: Norfolk PoliceHugh ONeill admitting indecently assaulting 13 officers over the course of a decade. Photo: Norfolk Police

Dr Hugh O’Neill was jailed for 12 years in 2015 for sexually abusing two children. In 2016 he was sentenced to a further three years for sexual assaults on female police officers.

He assaulted the officers during medical examinations while working as a doctor for Norfolk Constabulary from 1993 to 2003.

In November last year this newspaper revealed Norfolk police had twice failed to properly investigate the 64-year-old from Tasburgh in 1993 and 2003 when female officers accused him of sexual assaults. It also emerged the scale of abuse was far greater than previously thought.

In 2003, O’Neill was dismissed from the force after an investigation into his sexual assaults against officers.

But police failed to pass on key evidence to prosecutors, meaning he could carry on working as a family GP in Horsford.

It also meant he could continue to work for the Norfolk Army Cadet Force (ACF) until 2014 as a medical officer, which included carrying out medicals on female instructors. According to two former instructors they were told by the Army to keep quiet in 2014 about O’Neill’s involvement with the ACF when it emerged he was being investigated by Norfolk Police for rape and assault.

The abuse was unconnected to his cadet role.

One said: “They gave no reasons. I think it would have been a huge embarrassment for the organisation.” They said O’Neill would have had unsupervised contact with cadets aged 12-18. There is no suggestion that complaints were made about him by cadets or instructors.

Another former instructor said: “We were told to keep as quiet as possible (about O’Neill’s involvement with th ACF).”

We asked Norfolk ACF questions about O’Neill.

But we were told that because of data protection the Army could not answer our queries.

An Army spokesman said: “We can confirm that Dr O’Neill is no longer a member of the Norfolk ACF and was jailed for offences unconnected with his service. We are not prepared to release any personal information about this individual.”

•The questions the army refused to answer:

-What work did O’Neill do with Norfolk ACF and what was his role?

-Which years was O’Neill working with the cadet force to and from?

-How was O’Neill able to work with the cadet force when he had been investigated by Norfolk police for sexual assaults on female police officers?

-Did the ACF receive any information from police either pre or post 2003 about why O’Neill was sacked from the force?

-Did the ACF receive any complaints about O’Neill’s behaviour towards cadets or instructors?

-What steps did the ACF take to protect cadets and staff members when it emerged O’Neill was being investigated by police?

-Training instructors say they were told to keep O’Neill’s involvement with the cadets quiet in 2014 when it emerged he was being investigated by Norfolk police. Why were they told to do this? At what point were parents and cadets told?

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