South Wales fire chief 'shocked and horrified' by abuse allegations in department

South Wales Fire Chief speaks to ITV News' Paul Brand on abuse allegations after an ITV News investigation reveals firefighters retained jobs despite sexually harassing and abusing women

The chief of South Wales Fire and Rescue has spoken out about the revelations of abusive behaviour by two of their firemen, which were brought to light by an ITV News investigation.

The findings showed evidence that the men had been allowed to keep their jobs despite sexually harassing and abusing women.

In response, the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service has launched an independent review, and the organisation has lost its accreditation as a safe space for women fleeing violence.

The prime minister has stated that this situation should be looked into.

Huw Jakeway, Chief Fire Officer and Head of South Wales Fire and Rescue spoke to ITV News' Paul Brand about the accusations

Mr Jakeway said: “I am truly shocked and horrified at what I heard on the news report last night.

"The strength and bravery of the victims to come forward and speak to yourselves in such an open and graphic manner.

"It was truly horrific for me and that is why I have moved to an independent review of our culture, a review of our discipline processes and a review of our historic discipline cases that we already heard. 

"In the last 24 hours the person you named as an employee in the service has been suspended and is pending a disciplinary investigation.”

It comes after ITV News revealed that in 2020 one of its firefighters was found to have sexually harassed a female member of staff while at work.

Watch Manager John Morgan was accused of exposing himself to a cleaner on night shifts, with the harassment spanning a number of years - he has since been suspended and is under re-investigation.

Waiving her anonymity, Shirley – who works at Ely station in Cardiff – says she eventually reported Mr Morgan’s behaviour out of fear she could be raped.

Mr Jakeway went on to say that he would be reaching out to Shirley after the allegations came to light on ITV News.

Shirley was harassed by a firefighter for years and has waived her right to anonymity to help keep others safe

The fireman was later disciplined and demoted, moving to another station within the force’s remit.

However, little over a year later Mr Morgan was promoted again, regaining his original position as Watch Manager.

ITV News also spoke to a former partner of another firefighter, who cannot be identified.

She told us that she had been domestically abused by the fireman. ITV News has verified her claims via court documents, which show that the firefighter was convicted of assault.

"He ruined my life" - a domestic abuse survivor victim tells Paul Brand how "hard" it was to see her aggressor working in what should be a safe haven for women

Despite his conviction, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service allowed the firefighter to continue working for the service at a white ribbon station.

White Ribbon suspended the service's accreditation as a result.

In a statement, the charity said: "White Ribbon are very concerned about the information that has been uncovered about South Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

"White Ribbon Accredited organisations commit to an Action Plan with core criteria of strategic leadership, raising awareness, changing culture and ensuring men are engaged in ending male violence against women.

"We have suspended South Wales Fire and Rescue Service’s Accreditation, pending a review. Our thoughts are with the victims, and with those who live in fear of abuse and violence. White Ribbon UK advocates for safer cultures for women and girls throughout all our work, and we will continue to work towards all women and girls living without the fear of violence."

The claims at South Wales Fire and Rescue Service uncovered by ITV News come after recent concerns at London Fire Brigade, where a recent report carried out by former Chief Crown Prosecutor Nazir Afzal found serious cases of misogyny and racism.

If you have information about this story or others on the issue please contact us at investigations@itv.com.