Hague to publish fresh child abuse report

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The Independent Online
William Hague, Secretary of State for Wales, is to publish a fresh report into child abuse in residential homes in North Wales on Monday, warning that it could happen again unless action is taken to tighten checks on staff.

The report by Adrianne Jones, a former director of social services in Birmingham, concludes that more work is needed if the failures highlighted in the earlier Jillings report into the scandal in children's homes in Clwyd are not to be repeated.

Mr Hague, who will make a statement to the Commons on Monday announcing the details of the judicial review into the Clwyd affair, will give details of the terms of reference and the name of a senior legal figure to head the inquiry. Stephen Dorrell, Secretary of State for Health, will announce in a separate written answer details of a national review into procedures in children's homes to combat abuse, which is to be headed by Sir William Utting.

It was the report by Ms Jones which proved decisive in the Cabinet's decision on Thursday to go ahead with the judicial inquiry and the wider national review. It was commissioned by Mr Hague as a result of an earlier examination by Nicola Davies QC of failures in Clwyd homes to protect children. Ms Jones looked at the abuse issue in homes in both Clywd and neighbouring Gwynedd, which has not been the subject of any independent inquiry.

Mr Hague plans to tell the Commons on Monday that the Jillings report, commissioned by Clwyd County Council, was signed by no one, failed to make clear how the evidence had been gathered, and was so "peppered" with libellous allegations against staff that it could not be published.

He had sent it back to the successor authorities who replaced Clwyd County Council in the local government reorganisation and told them to find a way of getting it published. The matter came to a head when they decided they were not going to release it. "That is one of the factors that strengthened the case for the public inquiry," a senior government source said. Mr Hague overcame early reluctance from other departments for a full public inquiry. He received the Jones report a week ago and briefed a Cabinet committee on Tuesday which gave the initial recommendation to the Cabinet for the inquiry and review to go ahead.

"The Jones report is about the present and the future rather than the past. It says we have a lot of work to do. It does not say [the abuse] is still going on but it cannot guarantee that it isn't," the source said. "It will say things have improved a lot but more needs to be done. It brought the matter to a head."

John Major backed the inquiry at the Cabinet on Thursday and announced it in Prime Minister's Questions. Mr Hague, who has been praised for his decisive action, was finalising the details for the inquiry while he was in Porthcawl, Mid Glamorgan, yesterday for the Welsh Tory conference. He will set out the background and terms of reference, and the Labour authorities are unlikely to emerge unscathed.

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