Paedophile defies tribunal's bid to make him testify

John Allen, a convicted child abuser who owned the Bryn Alyn Home in North Wales, at the centre of a tribunal into alleged abuse, has threatened to refuse to give evidence. Roger Dobson reports on a paedophile's fight from behind bars to keep his name out of the public spotlight.
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Allen, described as a central figure in the tribunal investigation into alleged abuse of children in care, has been subpoenaed to appear before the tribunal in North Wales, despite attempts by his lawyers this week to get the subpoena lifted.

A letter from his lawyers to the tribunal says: "Mr Allen recognises the tribunal has the power to issue a subpoena and to compel his evidence. He instructs us to advise in such circumstances he would, if brought to the tribunal, refuse to give evidence."

But lawyers for the tribunal have warned that if Allen, who was sentenced two years ago to six years for indecent assaults of boys in his care, and who is at present in Leeds Prison, refuses to answer all questions, he might face a contempt action.

Applying for the subpoena to be set aside, Allen's lawyer, John Lever, told the tribunal chairman, Sir Ronald Waterhouse, "He has made it perfectly clear he does not wish to give evidence, he does not wish the publicity that would be attendant upon it, so one really looks at what is to be gained."

He added: "It does seem ... that Mr Allen is being required simply because the public perception is `This is the man in charge who has been convicted, let's have some information out of him, and let's put it in the newspapers.'

"If, as a matter of law, he has the right to remain silent so that he does no incriminate himself, then to go through the procedure of issuing a subpoena, bring him before the tribunal, for him to remain silent, is just a time-wasting and costly exercise."

But Gerard Elias QC, counsel for the tribunal, said: "If a witness chooses not to answer a question which plainly cannot incriminate him, then the tribunal has certain powers and we may be submitting that the tribunal should exercise those powers."

He added: "It is plain that he has relative evidence to give. We would submit that he is entitled to be questioned in just the same way as other alleged abusers and indeed convicted abusers who have been brought to this court and have been questioned.

"He was the owner of Bryn Alyn. There were scores - and are scores - of complaints from this home over the period of his ownership."