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Council's 'shameful' decision to pulp abuse dossier

Published date: 08 November 2012 |
Published by: Rhian Waller
Read more articles by Rhian Waller


The former Bryn Estyn care home in Wrexham 

Leader reporter Rhian Waller reads the Waterhouse Inquiry report, Lost in Care 

First Minister Carwyn Jones (right) meets Keith Towler (centre left), the Children's Commissioner for Wales in Cardiff Bay to discuss the North Wales care home scandal 

 

Sir Peter Morrison 

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TODAY a high profile councillor blasted the former Clwyd County Council for suppressing a key report into abuse at the Bryn Estyn children’s home.

Malcolm King told the Leader: “A number of people refused to touch it.
“It was as though they would get a disease from it.”

Mr King, now a leading Wrexham county borough councillor, was chairman of the children and social services committee of Clwyd County Council when the Jillings report was prepared.

In 1991 social worker Alison Taylor raised concerns with staff at the then Clwyd County Council about horrors hidden by the walls of care homes for young boys.

The whistleblower’s actions raised suspicions that eventually led to a series of court cases and convictions, the effects of which are still being felt today.

In the years that followed, hundreds of abuse allegations were made, a number of care workers and staff members were jailed, and a series of compensation claims were settled.

But in the wake of revelations about high-profile DJ Jimmy Savile, former victims are calling for information on a key report which they claim was covered up.

Malcolm King, now county borough councillor for Wynnstay, was the chairman of the children and social services committee at the then Clwyd County Council when a report conducted by John Jillings and commissioned by the authority was presented.

Cllr King, who has a career-long association with local and national child protection organisations, including online protection group CEOP, was one of the few members of the authority to push for full publication.

He said: “I had the report in my hands two weeks before Clwyd Council was dissolved (to be replaced by smaller authorities in 1996).

“A number of people refused to touch it. It was as though they would get a disease from it.

“I was told if I kept on pushing for publication, or even mentioned the report, it would encourage more claimants to come forward, and if that happened, the insurance company would close their policy and Clwyd Council would be responsible for insuring itself.”

In 1999, the high-profile Waterhouse Inquiry led to the publication of the report, Lost In Care.

This in turn resulted in the creation of the role of Children’s Commissioner and the conviction of seven staff at Bryn Estyn care home in Wrexham when more than 100 people complained about exposure to physical and sexual violence as young boys.

But the Waterhouse Inquiry was limited in its remit – it focused only on staff members and care workers, ignoring the possibility that figures on the outside were invited into the home and were allowed to take boys off-site for their own purposes.

The earlier Jillings report may have gone much further but has since been “lost”.

Cllr King described the withdrawal of the report as the destruction of an effective weapon against child abuse.

He said: “Because it was suppressed, the lessons of the Jillings report were not learned – particularly about the potential for paedophile rings. It was the exchange of financial safety for the safety of real people.

“This is one of the most shameful parts of recent history. The arguments made for its suppression were rubbish.”

Former resident of Bryn Estyn and current Wrexham councillor Keith Gregory, who spoke to the Leader yesterday about the abuse he suffered and witnessed, called for the details of the Jillings report – if they were still available – to be revealed.

He said: “They had names and evidence. All sorts of things were in it that would have been crucial for investigating the abuse.

“[Jillings] delivered it to the council and the council were told by their insurance to pulp it, or they would no longer be able to insure the council.

“They were scared that people would make more claims.

“That document should be open to the public. Really people need to see what’s in this report. The only way to go forward is to go back.”

Plaid Cymru Wrecsam leader Marc Jones agreed, calling for the publication of any surviving copies of the report.

He said: “The reasoning behind the non-publication is very concerning. To preserve a council’s insurance does not seem like a valid reason for a cover up.

“I wonder whether Clwyd County Council simply bottled it – decided it was too much trouble.

“The report may still exist somewhere, and it came from a time when the abuse was fresher in people’s minds. It would do a lot of the work that this new inquiry could.

“There is an opportunity now for anyone with a copy of this report to publish it.”

John Jillings, former Derbyshire director of social services, was tasked with heading the panel for the unpublished report.

Speaking to the BBC this week, he said: “We understand it was shredded, it was never considered, that there were insurance considerations, that the authority could face claims from children in care if the report had been presented.

“Our report covered much of the same ground [as the Waterhouse Inquiry]. I think it was a waste.”

[We] spent an enormous amount of time and trouble in detailed consideration of the issues and that was completely lost.”

Tory MP's care home link investigation

THE Conservative Party is investigating claims a former Chester MP and one-time aide to Margaret Thatcher is linked to a paedophile ring which targeted a Wrexham care home.

The late Sir Peter Morrison is alleged to have visited Bryn Estyn a number of times before his death in 1995.

A former resident told Channel 4 News Sir Peter was one of several men who turned up at the home at odd hours.

He told the programme: “Going through some stuff recently and I saw his face. I know now he was the MP for Chester at the time. Morrison.

“I saw him at Bryn Estyn. He turned up in a car, boy went off in his car, don’t know if he was in it.

“It was definitely his car, I saw him arrive in it then we went to bed and we saw it drive off.

“We used to see a lot of people we didn’t recognise, not staff. They turned up at odd hours, early evening and the night.”

The unnamed resident did not claim to have been abused, but said other boys gave him accounts of parties where they were given alcohol and passed around between men like “pass-the-parcel.”

He added: “They seemed to have the run of the place. If they wanted to do or see anything they could do it.”

The former leader of Welsh Conservatives, Rod Richards, has also linked Sir Peter to the scandal.

Mr Richards said that as a junior Wales minister, he saw official documents identifying Sir Peter and another now-deceased Conservative as frequent unexplained visitors to Bryn Estyn, on Bryn Estyn Road, Wrexham.

A spokesman for the Conservative Central Office told the Leader: “We will do everything in our power to ensure these serious allegations are investigated fully.”

It is the latest twist in the new furore prompted by fresh allegations by victim Steve Messham.

Mr Messham told BBC 2’s Newsnight that the abuse, which took place at almost 40 children’s homes across North Wales during the 1970s and 1980s, is yet to be fully revealed.

The 51-year-old former resident said the Waterhouse Inquiry report published in 2000 uncovered only a fraction of the abuse centred on Bryn Estyn.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has mounted an investigation into the original police handling of the case and the latest claims by Mr Messham, which will run alongside a separate judge-led review of the original Waterhouse Inquiry into the scandal.

Prime Minister David Cameron has faced calls from Labour for an over-arching inquiry, taking in all the outstanding issues of child abuse, including the Jimmy Savile allegations.

Speaking from the Middle East, he said: “I’m not saying now let’s have a totally new inquiry into the whole thing. Let’s find out as quickly as possible if we have a problem here. If we have a problem then we have to take further steps.”

NCA director general Keith Bristow will report by April 2013, Home Secretary Theresa May has told MPs.

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