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Last Updated: Monday, 16 May, 2005, 18:36 GMT 19:36 UK
Abuse group banned from meeting
The former Bryn Estyn Community Home
The conference was to have taken place at a former children's home
A group which casts doubt on abuse allegations at north Wales' children's homes has been refused permission to hold a conference at a council venue.

The event was due to take place next month at a centre which was once the Bryn Estyn community home in Wrexham.

A key speaker was to have been an author who alleges that many claims of abuse were false.

But a spokesman for Wrexham council said the event was "inappropriate" following legal advice.

Abuse stretching back 30 years was uncovered in the inquiry by Sir Ronald Waterhouse into abuse at children's homes in north Wales held in the late 1990s.

Among those imprisoned after being convicted of abuse was the former deputy head of the Bryn Estyn home.

The conference False Allegations - Truthful Answers had been organised by the group FACT North Wales, a support group for carers and teachers was to have taken place at the Erlas Centre on 3 June.

When the original booking was made it was unclear what the talk was intended for
Wrexham Council spokesperson

Author Richard Webster was to have talked about his book The Secret of Bryn Estyn: The Making of a Modern Witch Hunt. It claims that there was no widescale abuse of children and that innocent people were jailed.

But the council later told the group that the booking could not go ahead. A Wrexham council spokesperson said: "When the original booking was made it was unclear what the talk was intended for.

"As soon as the information was to hand with regard to the purpose of the booking, it was considered that the event was inappropriate, following advice we had received from our legal department".

Malcolm King, a Wrexham councillor who was central in bringing about the abuse inquiry, said he was "very pleased" that the authority had stepped in to prevent "what would have been very hurtful to many people who have already been hurt enough".

'Institutional '

"To have had this conference in the former children's home, where the original discovery of widespread institutional child abuse first began to be uncovered would have been a sick act of incredible insensitivity".

The conference is now due to take place at another venue.

Mr Webster said he was "flabbergasted" by the council's action and said that Mr King "entirely missed the point".

He claimed that the evidence "clearly shows" there never was a paedophile ring based at Bryn Estyn and that dozens of staff had been wrongly accused.

Mr Webster added: "One of the purposes of the conference, which was made clear at the time of the original booking, was to highlight this".


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