12 deaths after child abuse case

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Legal Affairs Editor

Twelve young people died unusual and premature deaths, a number of them suicides, following their experiences at the hands of sex abusers in care homes in Clwyd, according to the independent report into the scandal suppressed by the county council.

The deaths are highlighted in the unpublished report's summary, where it calls for a full public judicial inquiry under local government legislation.

The inquiry team, led by the former Derbyshire social services director John Jillings, found that three of the young people had had suicide verdicts, one through hanging, recorded by coroners.

Another two were also found hanged. Another died of a heroin overdose, one was found dead in a car, another died of alcohol abuse and one was found dead in a bedsit from solvent abuse. A young man died in a fire in a flat, provoking a coroner's verdict of unlawful killing. Another fell off a railway bridge and the twelfth died in a flat in poverty.

Four of the victims had spent time in care at at the Bryn Estyn council- run home near Wrexham, a further four came from the Bryn Alyn private care home, and the remaining four from other homes in the county.

Sources have also revealed that Mr Jillings' panel called for the North Wales police force to submit to an investigation by the Police Complaints Authority. After a threat from its insurers that negligence cover could be revoked, Clwyd council put a block on publication of the 300-page report and gagged councillors from revealing the call for a public inquiry.

The new disclosures come as North Wales police signalled their readiness to get a High Court order to force Clwyd to release files on up to 30 young people as part of a fresh investigation into the activities of a local carer of children with a previous conviction for indecent assault.

In this second instance of Clwyd refusing to release crucial information about one of Britain's worst child-abuse scandals, the council insists it is obliged to claim public interest immunity in relation to the documentation.

Officers want the files to trace the young people who were in care in Clwyd as children. The inquiry could eventually spread to other parts of the country, where the carer under scrutiny has had past responsibility for the care of about 1,000 young people.

Rhodri Morgan, Labour MP for Cardiff West, last night tabled a Commons motion calling on Mr Hague to honour a pledge made in September 1992 by Gwilym Jones, a Welsh Office minister, to hold a public inquiry after allegations were made against social services staff and police officers.

The Jillings report is also understood to make reference to "prominent" people being involved in the scandal, but says that it did not have the resources to address that suggestion.

Where children's interests were in conflict with the authorities, the report says: "We have found that in many cases the interests of institutions and professions have come first instead."

Some North Wales sources have put the figure for consequential deaths of young people, following abuse, at 16.