Police receive information from 105 victims in North Wales child abuse inquiry

Operation Pallial is re-examining allegations of historic abuse

An independent investigation set up to examine allegations of historic child abuse in North Wales has received information from 105 victims in just one month.

Operation Pallial, led by Keith Bristow, director general of the National Crime Agency (NCA), is re-examining allegations of historic abuse and the original police investigations into the care homes abuse scandal.

The new inquiry was announced by Home Secretary Theresa May last month and 105 victims have come forward so far, the NCA confirmed today.

Detective Superintendent Ian Mulcahey, from Merseyside Police, senior investigating officer for the inquiry, said: "Operation Pallial is investigating new allegations of historic child abuse, some from victims previously known about and some from victims who have come forward for the first time.

"All victims of abuse have a right to expect all allegations of abuse, no matter how much time has passed, to be investigated professionally and appropriately. We will do so.

"Equally importantly, if offenders are still alive, they must be identified, investigated and brought to justice, with those who still have access to children being prioritised."

A spokesman for the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) said Operation Pallial will assess all information recently received and review relevant historic police investigations before conducting fresh inquiries.

Victims have either contacted Operation Pallial directly, or have agreed to have their details forwarded by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) or Children's Commissioner for Wales.

Operation Pallial is being conducted by a full-time team of 27 experienced police officers and staff, drawn primarily from police forces in the North West of England, supported by members of Soca.

Victims now live throughout England, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, in 22 police force areas outside of North Wales.

Mr Mulcahey said the investigation would "follow the evidence without fear or favour".

The Soca spokesman said the investigation would be "victim focused" and their on-going welfare will be at the forefront of any investigative decisions which are made.

Operation Pallial will provide initial reports and recommendations to Mark Polin, Chief Constable of North Wales, and the Home Secretary in April 2013.

A summary of information will also be made public at that time.

"Operation Pallial has already made contact with Macur Review, which is conducting a review of the Waterhouse Inquiry, to ensure that these two separate inquiries into matters in North Wales can both progress efficiently and effectively in parallel", the Soca spokesman added.

The abuse in the children's homes in North Wales is alleged to have happened in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mrs Justice Julia Wendy Macur, a High Court judge, has been appointed to carry out the review of the original 2000 inquiry led by Sir Ronald Waterhouse, a retired high court judge.

Last month Mrs May also said she would consider Labour calls for a wider, over-arching inquiry into child abuse - including the allegations involving the late DJ and BBC presenter Jimmy Savile - if the evidence is shown to justify it.

The investigations follow allegations by one of the victims, Steve Messham, who said the original inquiry examined only a fraction of the claims of abuse.

He told BBC2's Newsnight that he was taken out of the Bryn Estyn children's home in Wrexham and "sold" to men for sexual abuse at a nearby hotel and a senior Tory from the time was among the perpetrators.

The allegations led to false child abuse allegations being made against former Tory politician Lord McAlpine.

He was mistakenly implicated by the Newsnight programme on November 2.

Although the programme did not name the peer - referring only to a senior Conservative from the Thatcher era - he was quickly identified online.

He was named on social networking site Twitter by users including Sally Bercow, wife of John Bercow, the Commons Speaker.

The peer is now persuing a number of libel claims.

Lord McAlpine has asked those who linked him to child abuse allegations to apologise formally and pay a "sensible and modest amount", which he plans to donate to BBC Children In Need.

The BBC's director general, George Entwistle, was forced to resign following the furore.

Anyone with information about the child abuse scandal in North Wales can call the incident room on 0800 118 1199, or email Operation.Pallialnthwales.police.uk.

PA

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