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Tuesday 6 November 2012

Child Abuse – The Mire Deepens

With Channel 4 News about to weigh in with victim and witness accounts of the goings-on at care homes in North Wales, the head of steam behind the move to look again at what happened all those years ago is building. Home Secretary Theresa May has appointed Keith Bristow, head of the National Crime Agency, to conduct a “thorough investigation” into the allegations.

At the same time, there will be an inquiry as to whether the original investigation was properly carried out. It should be noted that this is not the same thing as asking why it might not have discovered certain things that are now coming to light: if its terms of reference were such that it was constrained in certain matters, that doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t carried out properly.

In fact, Richard Scorer, a solicitor who represented thirty of the victims at the original inquiry, has said that its powers and terms of reference were limited. Most importantly, Waterhouse only investigated abuse within care homes. Why is that important? Because it’s alleged that much of that abuse happened away from care homes, in places like the Wrexham Crest Hotel.

That should be borne in mind when reading the denials from those accused of being involved when they say that they never visited any of the children’s homes. They didn’t need to. On numerous occasions, young boys were collected from the homes by abusers, or intermediaries on behalf of those who would do the abusing, returning them after the criminal acts had taken place.

And how many names are we talking about? The Waterhouse Inquiry identified 28 alleged child abusers, but banned their identification. As the Telegraph has noted, this included “a senior Conservative from the Thatcher era who allegedly abused one victim in a hotel room alongside eight other paedophiles”. This is believed to be the peer whose role I discussed the other day.

One problem in verifying all of this is that the Wrexham Crest is unlikely to have retained its records from so far back, and of course it’s changed hands since the period when the abuse took place. Whether local hospitals kept records – some of the victims had been violently abused in sadistic attacks by another of the accused – is another matter. Several young men were supposedly admitted to Casualty.

Meanwhile, the last word has to go to Tom Watson: “The lesson of Hillsborough and hacking is that a narrow-down investigation is the basic building block of a cover-up. To limit this inquiry to north Wales and Savile would in my view be a dereliction of the home secretary's duty. It would guarantee that many sickening crimes will remain uninvestigated and some of the most despicable paedophiles will remain protected by the establishment that has shielded them for 30 years”. Indeed.

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