Letter: Abuse findings could be made public

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The Independent Online
Sir: Children in Wales and the National Children's Bureau are deeply concerned at the decision by Clwyd county councillors to suppress publication of their independent report into child abuse in children's homes in Clwyd (report, 27 March).

The report was commissioned with the best of intentions that the full facts should be known. However it appears that there is a conflict which could apply to any local authority, as lawyers and Clwyd's insurance company have apparently warned that to publish the report could lead to substantial claims against the authority.

The Secretary of State has powers under the Children Act to order public inquiries into child abuse scandals; the local authority is also under a duty to act on the advice of the Secretary of State. The Clwyd inquiry appears to have been relatively cheap compared with the Cleveland and Staffordshire inquiries and would certainly be a lot cheaper than individual litigation taken by all those who suffered abuse. Surely the most efficient use of public money, notwithstanding the financial consequences for the insurers, is for the Welsh Secretary to use his powers to ensure that the lessons learnt from the Clwyd report are published.

The alternative is for the Government to accept responsibility for all child abuse inquiries (including Clwyd) and for ensuring that these are adequately independent, rigorous and public.

Catriona Williams

Director, Children in Wales

Cardiff

John Rea Price

Director, National Children's Bureau

London EC1

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