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Home Secretary announces police inquiry into child abuse in North Wales

The former Bryn Estyn boys home in Wrexham, which closed down following claims of child abuse Photo: Malcolm Croft/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, has announced that The National Crime Agency will lead the investigation into fresh allegations of child abuse in children's homes in North Wales.

In a statement today Theresa May said the director genreal of the NCA, Keith Bristow, would review the original police handling of the case, which dates back to the 1970s and 1980s, as well as looking at the latest allegations by one of the victims.

The full video report by our Political Editor Adrian Masters is at the bottom of this article.

The Welsh Secretary David Jones met with Steve Messham to hear his allegations that he was abused. Mr Messham was in care at the Bryn Estyn children's home near Wrexham when boys there were the victims of a paedophile ring.

Before the meeting Mr Messham said:

I'm going tell him that we need an investigation, it needs to be done properly.

I want assurances from him that they will carry this out properly, that they will prosecute people and that we will get justice at the end of the day.

– Steve Messham, alleged victim

Speaking after the meeting Mr Jones said:

Child abuse is a truly abhorrent crime and any allegations made should be properly investigated by the police. I am grateful to Mr Messham for meeting with me today. I have had the opportunity to listen to him and I hope that he feels reassured by the Government's response and the action now being taken. **

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This investigation, coupled with that into the Waterhouse Inquiry, announced by the Prime Minister yesterday underlines this Government's commitment to ensure that it will do everything in its power to help the victims and get to the bottom of the terrible allegations.

– David Jones MP, Welsh Secretary

After the meeting Mr Messham said he felt 'fairly optimistic' about what would happen next. But he added that he was not confident about how a second inquiry would be conducted.

Speaking outside the Wales Office on Whitehall, where the meeting took place, he said:

I haven't got confidence that it's going to be done properly yet, I've got to be convinced of that.

After all's said and done, when the inquiry was announced that was a Tory government, we're back to a Tory government, let's just see how it goes.

I think the investigation will take a different route this time. I certainly have confidence that they're taking us seriously, of course - we wouldn't be here today if they weren't taking it seriously.

– Steve Messham, alleged victim

Mr Messham added that he wanted to meet the Prime Minister to discuss the situation with him and that he was due to speak to the NCA, which he plans to "fully cooperate" with.

There's also the question of what form the process would take, whether or not it would be, say, a public inquiry or review of evidence and those terms of reference would have to be agreed with the person appointed to lead the investigation.

In 2000, the report of the Waterhouse Inquiry found that there had been extensive abuse at several north Wales children's homes, with a paedophile ring centred on Bryn Estyn. The names of alleged paedophiles were also withheld because it was thought that there was little chance of successfully prosecuting them.

Details of the separate investigation into the Waterhouse report itself are expected to emerge in the next few days. That's partly because the Prime Minister has said a 'senior figure' will be appointed to lead it and sources say it could take some time to identify the right person.

The First Minister also met with the Children's Commissioner for Wales, Keith Towler, today. Mr Towler was one of the first to call for a re-examination of the allegations.

Speaking at today's FMQ's, the First Minister also said any future inquiry would require a joint approach from both Governments

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