Whistle-blowers
Exposing the North Wales Child Abuse Scandal
 
 
The scandal in Welsh children's homes first reared its ugly head in 1980 when a resident social worker, Alison Taylor, expressed concerns which were passed on to North Wales Police by a Gwynedd county councillor. Taylor's reward was to be accused of causing a breakdown in professional trust and later she was dismissed from her post.

But by then the abuse was so widespread that knowledge of it could not be contained. The number of complaints grew. Since then North Wales Police have conducted at least two investigations. One in 1985, hot on the heels of Alison Taylor's complaints, drew a blank.

The second one in 1991, followed an inquiry into the conviction of a former head of a children's home near Wrexham for sexually abusing children in his care over a ten year period. It lead to the arrest of seven people in positions of trust - from the heads of children's homes to foster parents.

Dossier

Meanwhile, a former police officer, Harry Templeton, had spent 19 years collecting evidence of mismanagement and personal misconduct by senior police officers, including Chief Constable David Owen and his Deputy Eric Evans. He sent his 19 page dossier to the Home Office and this led to two concurrent investigations, one by Her Majesty's Inspectorate and one by the Chief Constable of Warwickshire, Peter Joslin.

Clwyd County Council then commissioned a report, by John Jillings, former head of Derbyshire Social Services, to look specifically at the allegations of child abuse. The report never officially saw the light of day. Only twenty copies of the report were produced and each one was numbered. The report remains veiled in secrecy - even to those identified as victims within its 300-odd pages.

Clwyd Council, on the advice of its lawyers, said the report could not be published due to concerns about libel. Councillors and officials had been told by lawyers for the Council's insurers to shut up about the report otherwise they could be made personally liable for any compensation claims from the 200 known victims, which could run into millions.

Threat

Because of the libel threat only two people can beconnected to the Jillings report. Both are now dead. One is Sir Peter Morrison, a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, and one of Thatcher's key aides. His sister is Lady of the Bedchamber to the Queen. One of his more extraordinary achievements is not hearing the IRA bomb go off while staying at the Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1985.

The other is Thomas Kenyon, son of the late Lord Kenyon. Thomas died of Aids three years ago. His brother represents Wales on the EU's Committee of the Regions. These names alone give some indication of the kind of people who might have been named in the report, if they were name-able.

Senior North Wales Police Officers threatened libel actions over parts of the report which they claimed by implication tarred them as child abusers.

It is not the first time that this country's libel laws have prevented a full appraisal of what has really gone on in North Wales. Nor will it be the last. The Shadow Welsh Secretary Ron Davies asked for the report to be placed in the House of Commons library under Parliamentary Privilege to get around this problem. His request fell on deaf ears.

William Hague, Welsh Secretary, aware that the all-powerful Home Office might veto the publication of the report by the Welsh Office, wrote to the Prime MInister asking for him to lend his support for a judicial inquiry, but the Prime Minister said it is a matter for the Welsh Office.

Eventually a Tribunal of Inquiry was set up late last year. It is now taking statements and evidence from those accused of abuse and those claiming they were abused. It is unlikely to report before early next year and will cost millions of pounds.

Belief

But the crux of the matter remains the breakdown of trust between the people of North Wales and the North Wales Constabulary. Rightly or wrongly, it is common belief amongst the people of North Wales that the police abuse their power and have participated in the cover-up of the child abuse scandal. This will no doubt be investigated by the Tribunal.

Despite its protestations the Home Office is ultimately responsible for the North Wales Police, and therein lies the rub. Over the years it has received legions of complaints about the child sex abuse in North Wales which appear to have been ignored.

Worse still, the tendrils of this scandal have now spread like a cancer throughout the country. Its effects have rippled far and wide. A related investigation covering Cheshire, Merseyside and Lancashire is likely to be more damning than Clwyd. People have contacted me with information about scandals in many other parts of the country.

Not a few of the alleged victims have ended their days as rent-boys plying their trade on the streets of London and Brighton to highly placed perverts. Others have turned to crime and drugs. They received a life sentance simply because nobody cared enough.

And finally, with the whole secret structure of MI5 behind it, the Home Office should be well-informed about public figures involved in the sexual abuse of children. It is a standard intelligence tactic to use the threat of sexual scandal to bring someone politically into line. This is the sad reality of the British Establishment. Until that changes, the cover-up will remain and the scandals will continue.

First published on Pete Sawyer's 'Assignments Unlimited' homepages February 1997

 
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