Hague to publish findings of abuse inquiry

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The key findings of a two-year investigation into widespread abuse at children's homes in Clwyd, North Wales, in the 1980s will be published. But the published version may have the sections which could lead to possible libel action by individuals named omitted.

William Hague, the Secretary of State for Wales, yesterday ordered councils and the three experts who carried out the inquiry to produce a version of the report that can be safely published. He has also not ruled out the idea of a public inquiry called for by the original inquiry team. Mr Hague has also instructed the councils to give the police and prosecution lawyers the full copies of the report to look for any grounds for reopening investigations.

About 300 cases were originally referred to prosecuting solicitors by the police but only eight men were prosecuted. Mr Hague is also unhappy about reports of pressure by insurance companies halting publication of the report.

"Suggestions that consideration relating to insurance cover prevent public interest being satisfied seem to me to be unsatisfactory," he said.

In a hard-hitting letter to Tom Middlehurst, chairman of Flintshire - one of five councils to take over local government responsibility from Clwyd following re-organisation last month - Mr Hague criticises the way the report has been handled. "It is a matter of great regret that a local authority should apparently have commissioned an inquiry into the important and sensitive issue of child abuse in such a way that not even the findings and conclusions of the inquiry team can be made available to the public ... the present situation is totally unsatisfactory," he wrote.

"The legal advice you have received suggests that the report cannot safely be published in its present form. Concerns about possible libel mean that publication could give rise to risks of grave injustice to individuals."