Survivors of Birmingham sea cadet Peter Sherwin speak out amid Forfeiture Committee ruling

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The Forfeiture Committee has announced its ruling over an MBE awarded to Birmingham Sea Cadet Peter Sherwin who abused boys in his care

A twisted Birmingham sea cadet chief who abused and tortured boys in his care would have been stripped of his MBE if convicted of the crimes, a government body has confirmed.

Following a campaign by lawyers acting for victims of Peter Sherwin, the Forfeiture Committee – a government body with the power to remove honours – confirmed he would have likely lost the award, if he were alive.

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The Birmingham cadet boss died of lung cancer in 2014 aged 67. To date, law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp has been instructed by 37 individuals who say they suffered at the hands of Sherwin. They have told of being sexually abused, humiliated and whipped.

The sea cadet organisation has shelled out more than £1.5 million in out-of-court settlements and issued an apology. In its statement, the Forfeiture Committee said: “Peter Wallace Sherwin was awarded an MBE in 1987. He died on 15 June, 2014.

"The West Midlands Police have since confirmed that witness statements have been taken in relation to allegations made against him since his death, and a crime of rape of a child under the age of 13 has been recorded as being suspected to have occurred. The Forfeiture Committee can confirm that had Peter Wallace Sherwin been convicted of the crimes of which he is accused, forfeiture proceedings would have commenced.”

Late Birmingham Sea Cadet Leader Peter Sherwin
Late Birmingham Sea Cadet Leader Peter Sherwin
Late Birmingham Sea Cadet Leader Peter Sherwin

Cadet commanding officer Sherwin, considered a pillar of the community, rubbed shoulders with civic heads and was introduced to Prince Andrew when the royal visited TS Sterling, in Shard End, Birmingham, in 2001.

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Such was his lofty status, there were plans to give him a military hero’s send-off, his coffin carried through the streets on a gun carriage. Sherwin has since been exposed as a sadistic predator, a pervert who enjoyed inflicting pain.

One accuser, who has received a payout from the cadets, said: "He was this icon in the community. In reality, he was the classic calculating, predatory paedophile. He was straight out of the text book.”

He added: "He had what was called a 'blues routine' when he made you dress up in different costumes. He made me get into sports gear, white shorts. They were stained and white and dirty. You had to strip and put the shorts on.

"He'd handcuff you to a radiator pipe, it seemed like hours, and he'd whip you with a CB aerial. I used to beg him to stop hitting me. We had a ship's cat and one of his favourite tricks was to put it up your back, under your shirt, then hit it. It scratched. He'd also put it in your sleeping bag. That made me feel sick, I hated that." He added: "I felt no one was going to believe a 13-year-old."

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Another victim said: “I can’t take the accolades he received away from him, but when I think of people worshipping the ground he walked on, when I think he was such a monarch in the community, it sickens me. I was scared at his funeral. It was like a state funeral and I thought, ‘if you only knew what he did, none of you would be here’. It made me feel physically sick. To some, he was an icon. To use kids, he was a complete ****hole."

The father-of-one, who joined the cadets as a 10-year-old, carries the scars of an assault by Sherwin. He said: “He had his favourites and we’d have sleep-overs and Sunday dinners (at Stirling). We’d sit around a table and be encouraged to drink and smoke. I was 14 and he was messing around with an air pistol that fired darts. It looked so old, I said it wouldn’t work. He told me to turn around and shot me in the arse. It hurt, really hurt.

“In the evening, we were drinking and smoking, there were three or four of us there and when they left the room he grabbed my wrist and said, ‘I need to talk to you’. He put his arm on top of mine and said, ‘if you tell anyone what’s going on there are consequences.”

It was then, the man claimed, a lit cigar was stabbed into his skin. Sherwin was arrested in October, 2013, but the case later dropped. He was suspended by the cadets when the police investigation began, but later re-instated.

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Legal representative of Peter Sherwin's survivors speaks out on Forfeiture Commmittee ruling over his MBE

Rebecca Sheriff, Partner in the Abuse department at Bolt Burdon Kemp, said: “On behalf of my clients, I am absolutely delighted with the announcement from the Forfeiture Committee.

“Sherwin was a predatory paedophile who went undetected for many decades.  Over this period he physically, sexually and emotionally abused many dozens of cadets in the most sickening of ways.  Sherwin, Commander Officer of TS Sterling Cadets in Birmingham, was a pillar of the community and someone cadets, and adults alike, respected and looked up to.  

“Behind closed doors, however, he perpetrated the most sadistic abuse upon innocent children.  This abuse continues to haunt the cadets affected who are now grown adults and who have had to live with the impact of what he did to them.  

“In 1987 Sherwin was awarded an MBE for his work and his reputation remained intact until his death in 2014 with no prosecution for his crimes taking place. 

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“The Forfeiture Committee has confirmed that had Sherwin been convicted in his lifetime, he would have been subject to forfeiture proceedings.  Whilst he went unpunished for his crimes during his life, in his death I am pleased not only that his horrific crimes have come to light but that the announcement from the Forfeiture Committee goes some way to providing our clients with some form of justice and peace as they move forward with their futures.”