The woman who has battled for a decade to expose the full horrors of child abuse at homes in North Wales was finally able to tell her story to a judicial inquiry yesterday. Roger Dobson heard her evidence.
Alison Taylor, who was then a social worker and is now a writer, spent most of the day quietly telling her story and describing how her complaints and warnings went unheeded for years.
After she made one complaint, a care worker telephoned her to say: "How could you do such a thing, we thought you were our friend."
Mrs Taylor, aged 53, was the social worker who blew the whistle on the country's worst case of child abuse, one which was first drawn to public attention by reports in The Independent on Sunday and The Independent.
She told the inquiry in Mold that on another occasion when she told a senior care worker that a girl was being sexually abused, the girl was moved elsewhere.
Mrs Taylor, who was suspended in January 1987, months after she had given the police the names of six children who had allegedly been abused, said that Gwynedd county council would not admit to having a problem.
Mrs Taylor yesterday began giving her evidence to the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal which is now in its 10th month. She said: "When I returned from training, children were being transferred to my home and I was receiving more and more complaints from children about the abuse and ill treatment they had suffered and which they had seen others suffer. By the autumn of 1985 Gwynedd county council would not admit to the existence of a problem, the problem of mistreatment of children.
"I reported on an assault involving an alleged head injury. I made a written report to Lucille Hughes [then director of Social Services] and the response I received was an insurance claim for the boy and a telephone call from [a care worker] saying: `How could you have done such a thing, we thought you were our friend'."
Mrs Taylor added: "That was the end of the matter. I did not have any acknowledgement from Miss Hughes of the complaint."
Asked by Ernest Ryder QC, what happened after she made the complaint she replied: "Nothing as far as the assault was concerned, but I think shortly afterwards you will find that I was in hot water yet again over something. The pattern seemed to be that if I made a complaint then something would happen to me, it was like having a sniper behind the wall." She added: "I finally decided that enough was enough, that was the last straw. I could not condone this environment any longer and I realised I had to do something. What I could do was severely limited because it was clear that the director wasn't interested."
On another occasion she said that a girl had complained that a member of staff had had sexual intercourse with her. "She had been in care for a very long time and her behaviour was a cause for concern, but we didn't know why. She became suicidal at times. Then she told me she was being sexually abused and I reported it. She was transferred but continued to make allegations and the next I heard she had been transferred to a secure unit in a hospital.
"I think she was shifted to keep her quiet. As far as I know there was no investigation."
In 1986 Mrs Taylor made a statement to police about naming six children who had allegedly been assaulted. In December of that year she was told to stay away from work and was formally suspended in January 1987. A disciplinary hearing was held and she was dismissed, but an agreement was later reached at an industrial tribunal.
In 1991 Mrs Taylor compiled a dossier of 75 separate allegations which she presented to the police.
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