MP attacked for Waterhouse cover-up claim

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The Independent Online

A senior Labour backbencher who claimed that sitting MPs had been named by victims of a major child abuse scandal in north Wales was yesterday attacked for making unsubstantiated allegations.

Martyn Jones, the chairman of the Welsh Affairs Select Committee, was accused of abusing parliamentary privilege for not providing evidence supporting the revelations.

The MP for Clwyd South West said he had a list of 45 names "who may or may not have been potential abusers" but later admitted that none of them were MPs. In the Commons, he said: "I still cannot understand why all the accused were not named. It feeds the idea that we had a cover-up.

"It is an open secret among the press and people who were involved in this that there are a lot of high profile people who have been named by victims.

Mr Jones said he did not intend to name them but would name the categories. "There were, for example, Members and ex-Members of this House; senior members of the judiciary; members of the police force, including senior members; and prominent businessmen."

However, speaking after the debate on safeguards for children, Mr Jones made clear he did not have firm evidence. "I have no list but I've heard that sitting MPs and high-profile names have been involved," he said. The Waterhouse report into abuse at children's homes in north Wales during the 1970s and 1980s should have "drawn a line under the whole sad sorry saga and begun the healing process," he said.

But the victims were not satisfied they had been listened to, he said. "I have been given a list of 45 names, excluding the categories I mentioned, who may or may not have been potential abusers.

Mr Jones said he was looking at the issue himself because the inquiry had failed to satisfactorily exonerate the people on the list.

Robert Syms, the Tory MP for Poole, said Mr Jones's revelations were "extraordinary". He said: "It seems odd he made such damaging allegations without substantiating them."

Chris Ruane, the Labour MP for Vale of Clwyd, criticised the Waterhouse report for failing to name all the abusers. "I do not think anonymity should be given to people who have abused children and who have admitted to it," he said.