The youngsters, who are now all adults, were among 20 seized from their homes on Middleton’s Langley estate in dawn raids over allegations that youngsters had been involved in Satanic rituals.
They were eventually allowed back to their parents after a High Court judge condemned the judgment of Rochdale council’s social services department, which was also heavily criticised in a report by the Social Services Inspectorate.
The council’s social services director Gordon Littlemore resigned over the controversy. No evidence of any ritual or Satanic abuse was ever found.
Now 12 of the 20 children at the centre of the scandal have started a legal action against Rochdale council, demanding a formal apology for what happened and compensation for what they were put through. They are now aged between 18 and 29. Their case is being handled by specialist child welfare lawyer Richard Scorer, a partner at Manchester-based solicitors Pannone and Partners.
He expects the case to go to court in about a year’s time – unless Rochdale council agrees a settlement before then.
He said: “When these events happened in 1990 these people were children who had no idea what was happening to them as they were being taken away from their families. Now they have all reached adulthood they are coming forward to speak about what they went through and they want the record put straight, which has led to this legal action.
“When they were eventually returned home they had to put up with bullying and taunts from other children, massive family upheaval and, in some cases, parents splitting up.
“It has caused them enormous damage. This legal action is being brought because they want a proper apology from Rochdale council, and because they deserve compensation for the psychological damage, disruption to family life and long-term suffering caused by events which they did not understand and were never explained to them.”
Their legal action will feature in a BBC1 documentary, When Satan Came to Town, next Wednesday at 9pm. The programme features interviews with six of the children at the centre of the controversy, with some of them allowing themselves to be identified – the first time any of them have been allowed to be named by the media.
The programme will also name and blame two social workers it believes were responsible for the scandal. Neither still works for Rochdale council although one is still believed to work in child protection in Greater Manchester.
All 12 of Mr Scorer’s clients still live in Greater Manchester. The 20 who were seized came from six families.
In a statement released for the programme, Rochdale council said: “Following the judgement, the local authority took immediate steps to ensure the mistakes made in this case would not be repeated. The practice of interviewing children is now conducted in accordance with carefully researched and reviewed national guidelines.”