The judge who spent three years investigating child abuse in North Wales was surprised to hear that his inquiry had not heard key evidence.
That's the claim from a former ITV journalist who met Sir Ronald Waterhouse a year after he completed his report. Paddy French says a potential key witness warned of abuse allegations years earlier
In an exchange at First Minister's questions, Plaid Cymru's leader, Leanne Wood, condemned the media's reporting of fresh allegations of child abuse at north Wales children's homes in the 1970s and 1980s. Carwyn Jones replied that it had 'bordered on hysteria'.
– Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood AM
We've seen public criticism of someone who should never have been paraded though TV studios in the first place. Will you join me in condemning media reporting which sensationalises and simplifies complex stories rather than treating vulnerable people with the dignity that they deserve?
– First Minister Carwyn Jones AM
What we saw last week bordered on hysteria. We then saw an unfortunate situation where a part of evidence that was submitted by one potential witness was found to be flawed. But that doesn't mean of course that all the evidence that's new is flawed.
Assembly Members from each of the four political parties have written a joint letter urging the Chief Constable of North Wales Police to call on the help of officers from outside the force to investigate its handling of historic child abuse allegations.
Mark Polin has asked Keith Bristow, the head of the National Crime Agency, to review the original investigations. But the Agency doesn't yet have its own officers so Mr Bristow would need to rely on the assistance of those from the North Wales force.
I've been given a copy of the letter from four Assembly Members, who all represent constituencies in the North, say they don't think that would be appropriate because some of the allegations implicated North Wales officers. Here's the text of the letter:
Re: Investigation of Child Abuse in North Wales
Firstly, may we thank you for your recent update outlining how the force is dealing with both current and historic child abuse allegations in North Wales.
However, in view of the allegations made locally that North Wales Police were at the time complicit in a "cover-up", we do not believe that it would be appropriate for the force to undertake a review of the evidence.
It must be stressed that we do not seek to question the integrity of North Wales Police officers with regard to the process, but we are anxious to ensure that investigations are completely transparent and that any historic allegations are dealt with through the involvement of a completely independent police force.In the circumstances, therefore, we ask that you consider requesting that independent officers should be responsible for reviewing the original investigation and any new allegations.We look forward to your early response.Yours faithfully,
- Aled Roberts AM, Welsh Liberal Democrat AM for North Wales
- Ann Jones AM, Labour Assembly Member for Vale of Clwyd
- Llyr Huws Gruffydd AM, Plaid Cymru Assembly Member for North Wales
- Mark Isherwood AM, Conservative Assembly Member for North Wales
Several copies of the previously unpublished report into abuse at North Wales care homes have been found in local authority archives.
The Jillings report was commissioned by Clwyd County Council in 1994, but was never made public because the council feared legal action.
Over recent days the story has been in the headlines, with allegations that the Waterhouse Inquiry into the abuse scandal, published in 2000, did not go far enough.
– Colin Everett and Gareth Owens, Flintshire County Council
North Wales local authorities are taking collective and independent legal advice on whether the report can or should be disclosed under the Freedom of Information legislation, whether in full or in part. The National Crime Agency is being consulted, as any public disclosure cannot compromise or prejudice the new investigation. We hold the position that the legislation should be complied with both in its requirements and in its spirit in determining whether disclosure can be made.
Steve Messham is committed to co-operating with the new inquiry into sexual abuse in care homes around North Wales in the 1970s and 1980s, according to his lawyer Mike Gray.
– Gray & Co Solicitors
This evening it remains Steven Messham’s intention to co-operate fully with Keith Bristow’s team conducting the inquiry announced by the home secretary . Mr Messham has spent many years living with the memory of abhorrent abuse perpetrated by individuals whom were never brought to justice.
Mr Messham contends that there were flaws in the original child abuse inquiry presided over by Sir Ronald Waterhouse and it is hoped that this new investigation will establish why this was the case and what lessons can be learned.
A former resident of a care home in North Wales has apologised for mistakenly identifying former senior Conservative politician Lord McAlpine in an historic abuse case.
Steve Messham released a statement via the Bureau of Investigative Journalism website tonight.
In the statement, he says: "I want to offer my sincere and humble apologies to [Lord McAlpine] and his family."
He adds: "This is not the person I identified...in the early 1990s."
Lord McAlpine spoke out earlier today saying the allegations linking him to the abuse were "wholly false and seriously defamatory".