Calls grow for abuse report to be published

Children's homes scandal: MP seeks meeting with minister Book locked to grid strap
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The Independent Online
ROGER DOBSON

Charities and pressure groups concerned with the welfare of children have called for the report on Britain's biggest child abuse scandal to be made public. Their calls come in the wake of the decision by Clwyd County Council not to publish the report on abuse at children's homes in the county.

The three authors have been unable to comment on the report and attempts are currently being made to recover the numbered copies sent to them. A public inquiry has already been demanded by the authors of the 300-page document, who said in the report: "These issues are all of fundamental importance and we regard it as imperative that they are addressed in the full view of public scrutiny."

The trio, chaired by John Jillings, former director of social services for Derbyshire, added: "We consider that a public judicial inquiry under the arrangements set out in section 250 of Local Government Act should be initiated."

Yesterday, calls for the report to be made public were echoed by most of the leading British child care agencies.

Valerie Howarth, chief executive of Childline, said: "The safety and well-being of young people should be paramount. We want publication of the report so that lessons can be learnt and that young people making claims for compensation have access to the full facts."

Tom White, chief executive of NCH Action for Children, said: "There should be publication of the report. It would be a shame if the interests of insurers were overriding those of children. There are very serious implications here, and if lessons are to be learnt they can only be learn through publication of this report."

Jan Burnell, director of the National Council of Voluntary Child Care Agencies - the national umbrella organisation for children's charities - said: "The report must be published and everything made available to public scrutiny. If a very serious report like this cannot be published, it is a very big issue."

While Catriona Williams, director of Children in Wales, said: "It is essential that this report is not suppressed. We want the report published and to see the recommendations which will be of importance to all people involved in the care of children. We also want indemnity for the authors."

Such indemnity could be given by placing a copy of the report in the House of Commons Library. Rhodri Morgan, Labour's health spokesman in Wales, said yesterday that he will request a formal meeting with William Hague next week - when the Secretary of State for Wales returns from a trade mission North America - to discuss the publication of the report and the growing demands for a public judicial inquiry.

"If he has not acted by then we will be demanding a formal meeting to discuss the placing of a copy of the report in the Commons library and a full judicial inquiry," Mr Morgan said. "We also want investigated the allegation in the report that at no time over a 10-year period was there a single visit by a Welsh Office inspector to a home in Clwyd. That is a very damning allegation."

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