Child abuse inquiry 'must ask if powerful were protected'

 

A fresh inquiry into widespread abuse in children's homes, including allegations that a top figure in the Conservative party was involved, must investigate whether senior people were protected, the children's commissioner for Wales said yesterday.

Keith Towler said he would be writing to First Minister Carwyn Jones demanding an inquiry into the latest claims made about the abuse of hundreds of children at care homes in north Wales over 16 years, insisting concerns about a cover-up by powerful people were "understandable" and a full investigation was the only way to resolve the issue.

His comments came as Culture Secretary Maria Miller warned the BBC could face a full public inquiry into the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal if the corporation failed properly to investigate the matter. Since the allegations came to light, there has been a series of questions about other historic abuse cases. Yesterday Mr Towler said he wanted to re-open the case into the Welsh care home scandal after criticism of the original Waterhouse Inquiry. The tribunal, led by Sir Ronald Waterhouse, heard evidence from more than 650 individuals who had been in 40 homes between 1974 and 1990, publishing its report in 2000.

But one of its victims has come forward to say that he was banned from mentioning abuse that took place outside the care system, by the tribunal's terms of reference, alleging that a senior Thatcher-era Tory was involved. The Waterhouse Inquiry identified 28 alleged perpetrators but they were never named in public.

"In the home it was the standard abuse, which was violent and sexual. Outside it was like you were sold, we were taken to the Crest Hotel in Wrexham, mainly on Sunday nights, where they would rent rooms," Steve Messham told BBC's Newsnight. "One particular night that I always recall is when I was basically raped, tied down and abused by nine different men."

Mr Towler said: "The fact that we have someone on camera now who was clearly a victim of appalling abuse in Bryn Estyn children's home back in the 1970s and 1980s, saying that what he wanted to say was outside of the terms of reference, and people told him that he could not say these things and he couldn't talk about people who had abused him, is clearly wrong." He added: "The fact that he is now saying that so publicly means we have to respond."

He said that the inquiry should be wide-ranging and allow victims to be heard fully: "Unless you do that, that level of suspicion will always be around that there is a cover-up... No one should be protected. Society needs to know that it is clean in this sense."

Yesterday a Welsh Government spokesman said it was very concerned about the claims, adding: "Even though the allegations relate to the period before devolution, we believe in transparency in dealing with such issues."

Meanwhile, Mrs Miller said that a "public inquiry remained an option" if BBC investigations into the Savile scandal were not deemed to go far enough.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
John Terry puts Chelsea ahead
football
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David performs in his play ‘Fish in the Dark'
theatreFish in the Dark has already generated a record $14.5m in advance ticket sales
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Howard Mollison, as played by Michael Gambon
tvReview: Too often The Casual Vacancy resembled a jumble of deleted scenes from Hot Fuzz
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
news
Arts and Entertainment
Jemima West in Channel 4's Indian Summers (Joss Barratt/Channel 4)
tvReview: More questions and plot twists keep viewers guessing
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003