[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Ex-councillor cleared of contempt
Jeff Jones
Jeff Jones had accused the inquiry of becoming a 'witch-hunt'
Controversy has flared over a child abuse inquiry, with a former council leader cleared of contempt and two council officials who were criticised demanding an apology.

Ex-Bridgend leader Jeff Jones was summonsed after writing a letter during the Clywch inquiry into the late drama teacher John Owen.

In a separate development, former education officials Eddie Roberts and Graham Dunn want an apology from Peter Clarke, the children's commissioner.

Mr Clarke carried out the Clywch inquiry which concluded that the late John Owen, a former drama teacher at Rhydfelen Welsh medium comprehensive school in Pontypridd, had been guilty of sexually abusing pupils.

His report also found that Mr Roberts and Mr Dunn's actions in 1991 amounted to a cover-up.

In 1991, Mr Roberts was director of education and Mr Dunn personnel officer in Mid Glamorgan - an authority which no longer exists.

The dispute between Mr Clarke, Mr Roberts and Mr Dunn came to light on Wednesday, the same day that another figure in the Clywch saga, Jeff Jones was cleared by a court of being in contempt of the inquiry.

the case followed a letter written by Mr Jones who is the recently retired leader of Bridgend County Borough Council.

The letter, sent to Mr Clarke before he published his findings, said that Mr Jones believed the investigation had become a "witch-hunt", with senior officials at the former Mid Glamorgan education authority, including Mr Roberts and Mr Dunn, made scapegoats.

The tone of the letter as a whole was angry and unpleasant but I do not find that there is anywhere a threat
Mr Justice Jack

Mr Clarke then brought the contempt action against Mr Jones, which ended at the High Court in Cardiff on Wednesday.

Mr Justice Jack told the court he found the case against Mr Jones was "not made out".

The judge also responded to Mr Jones' claim that Mr Roberts had been unfairly criticised and that Mr Clarke and others "would not get away with it" if Mid Glamorgan council was still in existence.

He said he was satisfied this was an attempt to influence Mr Clarke, but added: "The tone of the letter as a whole was angry and unpleasant but I do not find that there is anywhere a threat."

Backed

The passage fell "short of contempt", but it was "to be deplored" that a council leader should have written in such terms, the judge added.

Mr Jones said he was "delighted" with the judgement, while Mr Clarke said he was pleased the judge had backed his findings.

Mr Justice Jack had found in his judgement it was "convincingly demonstrated" in the Clywch report that the actions of Mid Glamorgan officials amounted to a cover-up.

Mr Owen killed himself a day before he was due to stand trial in October 2001 for five charges of indecent assault against former pupils.

The inquiry had found Mr Owen was allowed to resign rather than face a disciplinary inquiry into allegations against him in 1991.

Both Mr Roberts and Mr Dunn want a public apology from the commissioner and an investigation by the Welsh assembly into the conduct of the Clywch inquiry.

Mr Dunn claims he was 200 miles away from Mid Glamorgan when one crucial meeting, said to have involved him, took place.

John Owen
John Owen killed himself in October 2001

Neither man was available to comment on Wednesday.

However, Mr Clarke responded to both the court case and the former education officials' calls for an apology.

He denied he had over-reacted by bringing the case against Mr Jones.

He added he would not be apologising for his inquiry and that the only people who should get an apology were the victims.

Mr Clarke said that the "the inquiry had been about safeguarding and protecting young people".

"Some of those young people were badly let down, and I believe some of them still probably deserve an apology from a number of adults."


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific