Monday, 5 November 2012

Abuse inquiry

First minister Carwyn Jones is meeting with Wales' children's commissioner tomorrow following calls for a fresh inquiry into child abuse at north Wales care homes in the 1970s and 80s.

But Carwyn Jones says more witnesses need to come forward before a fresh inquiry. In his view it is unlikely to go ahead on the evidence of one witness. But he is urgently trying to establish what the terms of reference were for the Waterhouse abuse inquiry. What he would do when he receives the information isn't so clear.

Although he did say that he would treat "very seriously indeed" what Steve Messham, the Children’s Commissioner had to say on the matter.

The one thing he was certain about was that politicians should not ask for victims of abuse to contact them. He was directly referring to Leanne Wood who had appealed in the social media for those abused to contact her. 
“Anyone who wants to contact me confidentially regarding abuse allegations in the north of Wales please e mail me at

In Carwyn Jones’s view politicians should tread very carefully on such issues.  Politicians should simply tell victims to either contact the police or if they didn’t trust the police, the Children’s Commissioner.
Leanne Wood respose was as follows

“The overriding aim in gathering evidence on abuse allegations is to provide an avenue that victims feel confident in making the first step to recounting vital evidence.  
“While some people may be entirely comfortable reporting abuse to the police, others will not.  Some people may prefer to approach the office of a female Assembly Member.  I’m offering these people, who may have lost confidence in institutions for whatever reason, the opportunity to contact my office in the strictest of confidence. 
“Only this morning my office was contacted by a friend of an abuse victim who said they were not comfortable reporting their allegations to the police because of the way they had been treated in the past. 
“Victims need to have confidence in taking that first step to reporting crimes committed against them. I am more than happy to provide an opportunity for them to do so and to explore all other means by which victims can come forwards.”

The whole matter came up following claims on  last Friday's BBC Newsnight by one of the victims that he was abused by a leading Thatcher-era Conservative politician. 

Steve Messham, one of the victims, said that at the time it was made clear to him what he could say to the Waterhouse inquiry.  He was one of hundreds who were sexually abused during that period  but he maintained that 30% of what he wanted to say was ruled out at the time as outside the terms of reference. 

It wasn't clear to him why such a restriction was imposed.  He now wants a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss the matter and ask why?

This constraint placed by Sir Ronald Waterhouse on what the inquiry would take as evidence has led Wales' Children's Commissioner, Keith Towler to call for a new inquiry. Hence the meeting with Carwyn Jones tomorrow.

In 1990s, rumours were rife about abuse in many of North Wales’s childrens homes. There was an initial inquiry by Clwyd County Council but that report was never published and the copies were pulped. At the time it was said that the Council’s insurance company insisted, for fear of large payouts to the victims.

Finally, because of widespread public pressure and concern William Hague, the then Secretary of State set up an inquiry under Sir Ronald Waterhouse. It is this inquiry’s scope that is now being questioned. Some going as far as suggesting a cover-up to protect people in high places.

Now Prime Minister David Cameron has intervened. Whilst on a trip to Abu Dhabi, he announced that he'd ordered an investigation into the way historic child abuse claims in a Welsh children's home were examined.

"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," said the Prime Minister.

He said that Steven Messham would be given a meeting with David Jones his minister in Wales. 

He's also going to be asking a senior independent figure to lead an urgent investigation into whether the original investigation was properly constituted and properly did its job.

1 comment:

  1. Not a Plaidi, but Ms Wood has a fair point. Cover ups are par for the course need we mention Naz and AWEMA?