Whistleblower to defy gagging order

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A social worker who blew the whistle on the alleged abuse of children in the care of a South Wales council is to defy a gagging order from her employers.

Karen Mackay, who works for Cardiff County Council, was told by letter not to speak out again after she publicly criticised the cut in a prison sentence handed out to Geoffrey Morris, a former social worker at the now closed Taff Vale children's home in the Whitchurch district of the city.

Judge Michael Gibbons reduced Morris's five-year sentence for indecently assaulting three boys in his care to 40 months. The judge said he had not seen key video evidence before imposing the original sentence.

Ms Mackay pointed out yesterday that her strictures were aimed at the sentence reduction, not the authority. "I expressed my personal thoughts about the sentence on a man I had previously known and trusted being cut. That had nothing to do with the council."

Currently on sick leave, Ms Mackay fears that she could be disciplined when she returns to work. "The letter from the assistant director of social services warns: 'We will wish to talk about this further when you return to work'."

Ms Mackay worked at the Taff Vale home before it closed in 1991. She has made allegations about abuse at other council homes. She alerted management to her worries at the beginning of the year, but says no action other than a joint investigation by police and social services into the former Taff Vale home has been taken.

Denying that the letter was a threat, a council spokesman said: "There is nothing sinister about the letter. No member of staff is allowed to speak to the media about matters relating to work."