Ex-care staff call for abuse inquiry

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The Independent Online

Staff who worked at one of the biggest homes involved in the North Wales child abuse scandal yesterday backed calls for a full public inquiry.

Care staff who worked at the Bryn Estyn Home in Wrexham, Clwyd, where two senior staff were convicted of abuse, say anything short of a full inquiry would be unacceptable.

"The internal inquiry was doomed to failure because, as many of us foresaw, there would be problems over publication because of the legal issues involved," said a spokeswoman who worked at the home for 10 years.

The move by former staff comes amid concern that a 300-page report following a two-year investigation by three leading child-care specialists will never be published.

It makes a series of recommendations to prevent the kind of events which in Clwyd led to years of abuse for as many as 200 young people.

Several child-care agencies, including Childline and NCH Action For Children, want the report published so lessons can be learnt.

William Hague, the Secretary of State for Wales, will face demands for publication of the report and a public inquiry from Labour's health spokesman in Wales, Rhodri Morgan, when the minister returns from leading a trade mission to the United States at the end of this week.

The Clwyd affair also raises important issues over the status of reports of investigations into abuse claims.

Some agencies believethat they should be given a status which guarantees indemnity against libel or other legal action.

Staff who worked at Bryn Estyn, which closed in 1984, say they have been concerned for some time about the issues surrounding child care in North Wales.

Because of the pressure the staff felt, a support group has been set up offering help, advice and counselling to those under pressure.

The spokeswoman said yesterday: "We support the call for a public inquiry. Anything less would be unlikely to reveal the full picture."