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The BBC's Niall Dickson reports
"A shameful period has ended"
 real 28k

Sir Ronald Waterhouse at the report press conference
Listening to the evidence was a very harrowing experience for the members of the tribunal
 real 28k

Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy
"Sorry is not enough"
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BBC Wales' Parliamentary Correspondent David Cornock
"MPs listened in silence"
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Abuse victim Timothy Williams
"We were abandoned when we were in there and abandoned when we left"
 real 28k

Victim Stephen Messham talks to BBC's Roger Pinney
"We believe it puts the record straight"
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Tuesday, 15 February, 2000, 23:01 GMT
Victims welcome abuse revelations

Waterhouse Report graphic The report catalogued "appalling mistreatment"


Victims of the "appalling suffering" uncovered by the UK's largest child abuse inquiry have given its findings a guarded welcome.

Lost in Care - the report of the Waterhouse inquiry into abuse in north Wales children's homes - revealed "appalling mistreatment" of children in care and made over 70 recommendations for improvement including the appointment of a children's commissioner for Wales.

"It is a tragedy that such treatment should have been meted out to children in care," Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy told the House of Commons.

Mr Murphy said there was no evidence of a high-level paedophile conspiracy, but that a paedophile ring around Cheshire and Wrexham had preyed on young people in care in the 1970s and 1980s.

Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy t Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy told of "appalling suffering"
The report condemns social workers, children's home staff, police and local councils and makes 72 recommendations to protect the 4,000 children currently cared for by local authorities in Wales.

Nefyn Dodd - formerly in charge of residential care in Gwynedd - was named as a man who physically abused many children.

Among those named for failing to protect children in their care were Gethin Evans - in charge of child care in Gwynedd - and two former directors of social services in the county, Lucille Hughes and T.E. Jones.

But victim Timothy Williams gave the findings a guarded welcome.

'Puts record straight'

"As long as the inquiry report isn't allowed to gather dust in Whitehall somewhere and they act on the implications of the report - and good comes of it - then it will have gone far enough," he said.


Stephen Messham Stephen Messham: "This report puts the record straight"
His optimism was echoed by another victim, Stephen Messham.

"We believe this report puts the record straight," he said.

Individuals named in the report who were still working in childcare had been traced and risk-assessed, said Mr Murphy. Efforts continue to trace others who have left the child-care system.

The Waterhouse tribunal at Ewloe in north Wales heard evidence from more than 650 people who had been in care from 1974.

The three-man panel sat for more than a year. It cost more than 12m and took almost two years for its report to be completed and published.


Sorry is not enough. We are determined that this report will lead to a society where young people can be cared for in safety
Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy
Much of the abuse took place at Bryn Estyn Children's Home in Wrexham, where paedophiles like Peter Howarth - a former housemaster - sexually abused boys as young as 12.

Howarth was jailed in 1994 for 10 years. He died in prison.

But for one of his victims, Andrew Teague, the repercussions of Howarth's attacks are relived almost every day.

"They are the scum of the earth," he said.

"They can paint it any way they like - psychiatrists, psychologists - they can say what they like about them, they are scum."

Four staff at Bryn Estyn have been convicted of either sexual or physical abuse of children.

However, Bryn Estyn was not unique. Complaints were made to the tribunal about 40 homes throughout Gwynedd and Clwyd.

'Sluggish' police inquiry

Not all the alleged abuse was sexual. Much was physical - children were thumped, kicked and hit for minor misdemeanours.

Children complained but were not believed.

Eventually, in the 80s, North Wales Police began investigating the claims, but its inquiry was later criticised as sluggish, shallow and inadequate.

Allegations persisted and the former Clwyd County Council commissioned a report from an independent expert, John Jillings.

Negligent

The Jillings Report named abusers and those considered negligent in failing to stop their activities, including social services. But the report was shelved as the council feared legal action.

Finally in 1996, William Hague - then Welsh Secretary - decided an inquiry was the only way of quelling public disquiet. That resulted in the Waterhouse report whose findings Mr Murphy outlined to the Commons.


This report is a warning of the constant need for vigilance
Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy
Mr Murphy told the Commons that the government would look at the Waterhouse report's recommendation that a Children's Commissioner for Wales should be established and that a Children's Complaints Officer should be appointed for every local authority.

The report concluded there was widespread sexual abuse of children, mainly boys, in council and privately-run children's residential homes and schools and in a NHS psychiatric unit in Clwyd between 1974 and 1990.

"This report is a warning of the constant need for vigilance," said Mr Murphy.

"It catalogues appalling mistreatment and weaknesses and the total abuse of trust."

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Suffering in secret

See also:
15 Feb 00 |  Wales
Decades of silent suffering
15 Feb 00 |  UK
Children in care: Now and then
15 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Government acts on abuse report
15 Feb 00 |  Wales
Victims tell of abuse ordeal
09 Feb 00 |  Wales
Abuse victims' evidence was 'harrowing'

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