Abuse report 'cannot be published'

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The Independent Online
Councils who were told by William Hague, Secretary of State for Wales, to publish the secret report into child abuse in North Wales have warned him that they cannot produce a credible version.

The councils say that the issues involve not just Clwyd County Council, but the police, the Welsh Office and the National Health Service. They are now seeking an urgent meeting with Mr Hague to find a way out of the problems that have beset the report into widespread abuse of children in residential homes in Clwyd over 21 years.

Yesterday, John Jillings, the former director of social services in Derbyshire who chaired the team that produced the report, wrote to the councils seeking a meeting. And today a legal challenge to the secrecy of the report will be mounted when solicitor Gwillym Hughes, who represents some former residents of the Clwyd, asks a judge to grant access to the 300-page report.

The new problems emerged yesterday over Mr Hague's demand that Flintshire and the other councils who replaced Clwyd in local government reorganisation, find a way of publishing the report. The move followed concern about possible libels being a barrier to publication.

But one worry has been that any version now published would be seen as censored.

Yesterday, a spokesman for the councils said: "We do not believe any version of the report that could be safely published would be publicly acceptable or credible. We also believe that the issues involved go far beyond the role of local authorities and involve many other agencies...

"We urge the Secretary of State to agree to an early meeting so we can jointly find a way forward to ensure that public confidence in all those agencies which deal with children's safety and welfare can be restored and maintained at the highest level."

A Welsh Office spokeswoman said she could not comment until the letter had been seen.