Police role in Clwyd abuse case defended

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The Independent Online
Lawyers for the North Wales police force yesterday strongly denied that there was any cover-up in the investigations into allegations of abuse at children's homes in the region.

The police acted throughout with integrity, dedication and skill, Andrew Moran, QC, counsel for North Wales Police, told the Waterhouse Tribunal, which is investigating the allegations of physical and sexual abuse against hundreds of children.

And it was, Mr Moran said, through the efforts of the police and the courage of the victims that abuse on such a frightening scale was revealed.

"We will demonstrate that North Wales Police acted efficiently, with integrity and robustly in the pursuit of truth. One of the objectives of the North Wales Police at this tribunal is to show that fanciful, untruthful and unsupported allegations reflecting upon the integrity of the North Wales Police are publicly shown to be just that," he said in his opening speech to the tribunal, which is being chaired by Sir Ronald Waterhouse.

Mr Moran also rejected allegations of Freemason links within the police, and produced a list of serving and former chief constables, deputy chief constables, and assistant chief Constables, who were not Freemasons. "Where then is the Mason link?" he asked.

On the third day of the tribunal hearings, which are expected to last a year and cost up to pounds 10m, Mr Moran said the tribunal was the first time that North Wales Police could present its case and show that it had behaved with integrity and professionalism.

He said: "This is the first opportunity for the force to demonstrate, free from the constraints that would normally prevent a full exposition of the facts, that it responded appropriately to allegations of abuse of children in care.

"Those constraints have effectively compelled the force to sit back until now, biting its corporate tongue, but happily no longer is that the case."

He continued: "North Wales Police is a body of individual officers, decent men and women, married and single, with or without families and children of their own, who would be, and have been, deeply upset at the suggestion that they would not pursue with the utmost vigour those who could do what was done in these cases to vulnerable children, if they had been given any indication of what was going on."

He added that North Wales Police would fully co-operate in the work of the tribunal.

"We will seek to demonstrate that from the almost impenetrable darkness of as base a human activity as the abuse of children, there was revealed by the courage of victims and the efforts of North Wales Police, abuse of children in the care of the local authority, emotional, physical and sexual, on a frightening scale."

On Bryn Estyn, the now closed home in Wrexham where there have been 138 complaints of abuse, he said there had been a powerful culture of concealment among the staff working there.

"We have extracted from police statements instances of concealment or inaction so numerous they are tabulated over many pages.

"This culture of concealment was aided by certain members of staff who saw no evil, heard no evil and certainly spoke of no evil to the police," he said.