Early this evening the Prime Minister has said a “senior independent figure” will be assigned to look into the way allegations of sexual abuse at North Wales children’s homes was handled.
David Cameron said to news channels “Child abuse is an absolutely hateful and abhorrent crime and these allegations are truly dreadful and they mustn’t be left hanging in the air, so I’m taking action today.
“I’m going to be asking a senior independent figure to lead an urgent investigation into whether the original inquiry was properly constituted and properly did its job and to report urgently to the government.”
The above is an update to a story we wrote right after the Newsnight programme first aired on Friday here:
BBC’s ‘Newsnight’ programme last night carried allegations from a man who was sexually abused as a child in Wales, referring to the sex abuse at Bryn Estyn, with the victim calling for a new investigation.
The BBC written online report (read here) states “He and another victim also told the BBC that a leading Thatcher-era Tory politician took part in the abuse.”
The television broadcast this evening did not name the ‘leading Thatcher-era Tory politician’, with the reason suggested by The Telegraph being due to an alleged libel threat. In cases such as Jimmy Saville it is possible to ‘name’ as it is not possible to libel the dead.
At the time – back in 2000 – then North Wales Police Deputy Chief Constable John Owen said he didnt believe there would be further prosecutions as the Crown Prosecution Service had at the time considered all that was in the report – however did say if anything new came to light then it would be reconsidered.
Referring to abuse in the late 1970’s Steven Messham told Newsnight that he gave names and statements to the police of his abuse. Mr Messham told Newsnight that the names he gave to police were never revealed – but one against a ‘senior public figure’.
Newsnight also reported on another individual, referring to an interview from BBC Radio where he told of a ‘faxed picture’ of the senior figure who abused him. The individual says he told North Wales Police and was able to pick the senior figure out however alleged it was not followed up.
Newsnight reported that Messham and the individual from the BBC Radio interview both claim statements were interfered with.
The ‘Waterhouse Enquiry’ reported into the abuse allegations – entitled ‘Report of the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Abuse of Children in Care in the Former County Council Areas of Gwynedd and Clwyd since 1974’. You can follow the link from the Department of Health website here to find the report on an archive link.
This page of the report refers to the question of ‘whether a paedophile ring existed in North Wales’ , with some graphic detail of incidents in and around Wrexham.
Sir Ronald Waterhouse QC ruled at the time that no naming of alleged abusers could take place and effectively granted full anonymity, which some have observed could have been a large barrier for others coming forward.
This point was highlighted as Newsnight’s report did say that back in the 1990’s there was the belief from some politicians and celebrities could not possibly be involved. With the ongoing Jimmy Saville related enquiries in the present day it appears this attitude has changed.
The BBC Newsnight report video can be viewed here.
Any former children in the home, or staff from the home can get in touch with Wrexham.com via this webform.