Britain's Fritzl raped daughters for over 25yrs

LONDON: Two British women who were raped and abused by their father for over 25 years, becoming pregnant 18 times, have won an apology from local authorities for failing to prevent the serial incest.

In a case compared with that of Austria's notorious Josef Fritzl, the 56-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is serving a life jail term for raping his daughters, who had seven babies by their father.

Details of the abuse were revealed Wednesday in a case review by local authorities, who accepted that 28 agencies and 100 officials had dealt with the family over 35 years.

"We want to apologise to the family at the heart of this case. It will be clear that we failed this family," said Sue Fiennes, head of the Sheffield Safeguarding Children Board.

"This report will not make comfortable reading for any of the organisations concerned with the family. We are all committed to working relentlessly to do all we can to minimise the risk of this happening again."

"Lessons are being learned by the agencies involved," she added.

The ordeal started in 1981 when the daughters were aged eight and 10. At the start they were attacked every day, and later were raped two or three times a week, review documents revealed.

If they refused the advances of their father -- who called himself the "gaffer", or boss -- they would be punched, kicked and sometimes held in the flames of a gas fire.

The case review showed that the family moved home 67 times over a 35-year period so that the father could avoid detection.

The women's brother voiced anger that his sisters had not been protected, saying: "I blame a lot of people."

"I blame people that were meant to be looking after children because we were all meant to be under child protection at five, so I blame the people that should have been doing their jobs looking after us," he added.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls branded the crimes "horrific" and said they should have been prevented.

"Like many people, I find it impossible to understand how a father could treat his own daughters in this way," he said.

"It is absolutely right for people to want to know how such abuse could go on for so long without the authorities and public services discovering it and taking action."

Media compared the case with that of Austria's Fritzl, who was jailed for life last year for holding his daughter as a sex slave for 24 years in a cramped, windowless chamber and murdering one of their seven children.

The Daily Mail newspaper said the case bore "chilling echoes" of Fritzl's crimes.

The British serial rapist had "left a trail of misery and recrimination, and a family of children whose warped parentage will scar them for life," said the paper.