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Seventeen-Year Cover Up
July 8, 2013 permalink
The 1996 Jillings report detailed abuse in children's homes in North Wales in the 1970s and 1980s. It was suppressed for seventeen years, and even now its pages are heavily redacted. The reason? Insurers feared compensation and libel claims. The offenses included buggery, assault, cruelty and a dozen deaths.
Jillings Report: Abuse 'still not being tackled' at childrens' homes in Wales, 17 years after report was suppressed
Supressed account finds 'appalling' and 'extensive' history of abuse in North Wales in the 1970s and 80s
Campaigners have warned that the authorities are still failing to tackle the epidemic of child abuse in Britain following the publication of a suppressed report into “bestial” cruelty carried out at children’s homes in North Wales in the 1970s and 80s.
Survivors groups said valuable years had been lost following a decision by the now defunct Clwyd County Council to shelve the 1996 Jillings report which reveals how attempts to expose the scale of the scandal were constrained by police, social services and other agencies.
The two year inquiry uncovered an “appalling” and “extensive” history of child abuse – including buggery, assault, and cruelty - dating back two decades and culminating with a series of paedophile trials centring on the Bryn Estyn children's home in Wrexham.
But its conclusions were suppressed for the past 17 years after fears by insurers that it could open the floodgates to compensation and libel claims.
Although finally made public following Freedom of Information requests by The Independent and others, the 300-page report is heavily redacted to blank out the names of any individuals suspected of wrongdoing.
Peter Saunders of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood said: “We hear from survivors that there are still perpetrators who are out there. They have been known about for a long time and they are still around.
“Abuse persists because of secrecy, fear, and failure to act or bring the truth out. Unless there is a very good reason, there is no excuse for the redaction of this report. It should be open and out there.”
A statement issued on behalf of six Welsh councils said the report did not name any suspected abuser who was unknown to the police.
Malcolm King, then chair of the council’s social services committee, said it was time for a Royal Commission to examine child abuse in Britain following this and other high profile cases including the Jimmy Savile affair.
“It is the same old, same old. It is the same lawyers and the same sort of everything that wants to suppress the truth.
“All sorts of legal reasons are made up for that but I don’t buy it. If we can’t tell the truth about what happened 30, 40 or 50 years ago then what hope is there for telling the about today?” he said.
At least 12 young people are believed to have died as a result of the abuse they suffered whilst staying in the children’s homes.
Yet despite 10 previous internal inquiries the abuse continued.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said recent abuse scandals in Oxford and Rochdale showed lessons still needed to be learnt. "While some things have improved - particularly for those in care - there is a depressing realisation that in some areas nothing has moved on,” he said.
A council letter written to the Chief Constable of North Wales Police in 1991 included the names of eight convicted sex offenders and dozens of suspects.
The report said council employees and even serving police officers from the time could have been named as potential perpetrators of assaults by witnesses in 3,755 statements taken as part of what was described as the biggest police investigation into child abuse ever held in the UK.
At least 24 victims were identified. But the panel expressed concern that there was “no mechanism to ensure that independent investigations are conducted of allegations against former and serving police officers and that the police authorities handling of investigations can in some circumstances avoid public scrutiny.”
The authors said they considered abandoning their inquiry after being refused access to files and were obstructed by staff that declined to be interviewed. Documents were disordered, undated and unsigned. North Wales Police refused to hand over 130 boxes of files on the grounds they were sub-judice, it was claimed.
The report led by John Jillings, the former director of social services for Derbyshire, was carried out four years before the judicial inquiry ordered by the Welsh secretary William Hague – following revelations by The Independent - under Sir Ronald Waterhouse QC reached similar conclusions.
Mr Jillings said staff meted out severe punishments to disturbed youngsters. "The treatment of children was bestial really; they weren't treated like human beings, by some members of staff at any rate,” he said.
Demands to finally publish the original inquiry findings were made at the height of the row over the BBC Newsnight report which made false child abuse allegations against former Tory Treasurer Lord McAlpine.
A new police inquiry is underway after 140 people came forward alleging historic abuse as a result of publicity surrounding the case.
The report said it was unable to cast light on the enduring suggestion that well known public figures were part of a wider paedophile ring operating in North Wales.
Source: Independent (UK)
Addendum: A journalist who has an unredacted copy of the full report tells the whole truth. Every page of every copy was stamped with a serial number, so copies leaked to journalists could, after requisitioning with a subpoena, be traced back to the whistleblower. British foster homes were infiltrated by pedophiles from the 1970s. Children were caned despite Welsh Office guidance to the contrary. Runaways were forcibly returned. Victims reported organized child prostitution. A dozen children died, even in the unredacted report they are identified only by numbers. A whistleblower was fired while those looking the other way got promoted. Convicted pedophile David John Gillison was prominent in the local Campaign for Homosexual Equality.
The truth behind the child abuse cover-ups
The report that first exposed child abuse in North Wales care homes has finally been published. But, says Eileen Fairweather, damning details have still been left out
Seventeen years ago, a nervous-sounding woman rang and asked me to publicise a top-secret report. She was not the whistleblower, she explained, but a go-between. She would not give me her name: “It’s safer if you don’t know.”
That secret report revealed the extensive rape and savage beating of countless children in North Wales children’s homes. It was titled “Child Abuse: An independent investigation commissioned by Clwyd County Council, period 1974-1995”. Last week, John Jillings’s report on the Clwyd scandal was finally published. But Flintshire county council – successor to Clwyd – has heavily censored it. I dug out the original and discovered, unsurprisingly, that the cover-up continues.
The cloak-and-dagger way I obtained the redacted report speaks volumes about how those struggling to expose Britain’s child abuse rings were intimidated and derided. Few then believed children’s allegations that people in power, including politicians and senior police, were involved. I was myself incredulous when first asked in 1990 to investigate a social worker. Weren’t care professionals all kind?
It was a baptism by fire, as one investigation rapidly led to another, and I realised that paedophiles had comprehensively infiltrated Britain’s children’s homes since the 1970s.
Back in 1996, only a handful of local politicians and officials were allowed a copy of Jillings’s report. They were told – by police, insurers and the council – that they risked their careers, arrest and being personally sued if a word reached the media. The uncensored Jillings report includes these chilling threats.
Every report had a number, imprinted as a large watermark on every page. Any journalist who quoted it would supposedly be ordered by the courts to produce their copy or photocopy or face jail, and the watermark would expose their source.
My caller said apologetically I must write out the report by hand. I was also told to share it widely with other reporters. Journalists need exclusives, but the rationale was sound: “If all the media cover this, there won’t be a witch-hunt.”
I collected the report from a safe 'drop’ point. It took me three exhausting days, holed up alone in a poky room in a B&B, to scribble out hundreds of pages. I fed to different newspapers and broadcasters different extracts suggested by my source. I only produced one article, and later a programme for HTV, under my name.
At least one paper and a news channel independently acquired the report: clearly, others whistle-blew. The coverage was widespread, and the whistleblowers’ drip-feed strategy worked: no one was arrested or sued.
Clamour mounted, and the Government announced a public inquiry. Yet surely, no further inquiries were needed: instead, police could have acted on the evidence already given to them by hundreds of victims and concerned staff, kicked-in doors and arrested suspected perpetrators.
The late judge, Sir Ronald Waterhouse, took evidence over three years, and in 2000 produced a report, “Lost in Care”. His tribunal had cost millions and ultimately achieved little, other than fat fees for lawyers. It amplified the horrors described by Jillings but it did not lead to arrests or managers being disciplined or struck off.
Jillings – the retired former director of Derbyshire social services – and his team, Prof Jane Tunstall and Gerrilyn Smith, had been commissioned after several former workers at Clwyd care homes were prosecuted in the early 1990s for abuse. But victims described many more abusers, and alleged organised child prostitution.
Last autumn Rod Richards – a former Welsh Conservatives leader, who has recently joined UKIP – revealed that the late Sir Peter Morrison MP, a close aide to Mrs Thatcher, was implicated in the North Wales care scandal. Did this limit the political will to act?
Flintshire county council says it has redacted much of the Jillings Report on the advice of Operation Pallial, which in April confirmed it is examining 76 new allegations of abuse in 18 North Wales care homes between 1963 and 1992.
North Wales Chief Constable Mark Polin has warned abusers: “If you believe that the passage of time will reduce the resolve of Operation Pallial or any police force to identify people still alive who have caused harm to others and bring them to justice, you are sorely mistaken. Offenders should quite rightly have to look over their shoulders for the rest of their lives.”
Mrs Justice Macur is also examining the evidence excluded from the Waterhouse inquiry. Following a key arrest, I am cautiously hopeful that, this time, police mean business.
The authorities had issued such stern libel threats to Jillings’s panel that it only named a few of the accused staff who were allowed to resign unpunished. But he exposed the excuses of the jobsworths who allowed sadists to control these terrible homes. This is the real censored dynamite in the report.
The whited-out paragraphs in the redacted version help minimise the breathtaking incompetence and laziness of ''the suits’’ – those in the Welsh Office, the Social Services Inspectorate, the local council and welfare directors.
Some cuts are not even indicated. Jillings wrote that one Bryn Estyn boss – allowed to take early retirement following grave concerns – caned children “despite Welsh Office guidance to the contrary”. In the redacted version, at section 8.6.4, the key words “Welsh Office” have vanished.
So many looked the other way, despite desperate children and a lone, brave social worker begging for years for action. Shamefully, the whistleblower Alison Taylor’s name is also redacted from the online version of Jillings. This heroine was sacked. But those who looked the other way were promoted, moved to senior child welfare roles elsewhere or retired on enhanced benefits – like many alleged abusers.
Jillings, in the non-redacted report, reveals that one head of a home who allegedly cruelly beat boys even had a post secured for him by Clwyd at an exotic holiday destination abroad. Might some who failed to act now be investigated for neglect or conspiracy? When does inertia become criminal?
Many children ran away, but police returned them, weeping, to their abusers. At Bryn Estyn – famously described by Jillings as “the Colditz of residential care” – one boy was crammed into a laundry basket, the lid tied shut and tossed into a swimming pool. Other children saved him from drowning.
Jillings also describes ''M’’, a 15-year-old girl. Three men were eventually convicted of unlawful sex with her at her foster home. They tied her to a wooden pole, dragged her upstairs and half-drowned her in a cold bath. Yet managers claimed the sex was consensual. The uncensored version exposes concerns that she was prostituted. Such subtle redactions make it harder for people to join the dots.
In May 1997, after the Jillings report, a key member of Clwyd’s fostering panel was imprisoned for abuse. Roger Saint had been appointed despite his known history of abuse.
Other redacted details concern Unit Five, where older boys routinely abused younger ones. It was feared that they violently “broke in” recruits for a paedophile ring. But managers said the sex was consensual.
The redacted version also conceals the fact that David John Gillison, imprisoned in 1987 for three years for gross indecency against a boy in care, was prominent in the local Campaign for Homosexual Equality. Why conceal that? Paedophiles in other child-care scandals have similarly hijacked the banner of gay rights – to the detriment of both children and ordinary, decent gay men.
I earlier exposed a similar scandal at Islington children’s homes, where paedophile staff cynically accused anyone raising concerns of “homophobia”.
The redacted version has also removed the fact that a former Bryn Estyn head was arrested for abuse but the charge dropped. Yet Mat Arnold was long dead, so why was this cut? Jillings later – seemingly randomly – mentions that Arnold died of an unspecified blood disease. Later he notes his concern that the abusers put their victims at risk of sexually related diseases. Did he fear that Arnold died of Aids – and is that still too politically incorrect to mention?
I later exposed Mark Trotter, a Hackney social worker who died of Aids after abusing boys in care. His council believed him an Aids martyr and covered up his abuse.
The real martyrs are the care children who killed themselves or died violently. Jillings lists 12. He called them R1, R2, etc, with just a few poignant lines about their deaths by hanging or falling from heights. My hand ached after I wrote out that report, and so did my heart.
I later learnt of four other abused boys who died tragically or mysteriously. I rang the secretariat of the Waterhouse tribunal and asked if it would examine the deaths of these 16 boys. The official said no and, when I asked why not, became supercilious. If they’re dead, he snapped, they can’t give evidence – can they?
I slammed down the phone and wept.
Back in 1996, my sole news story about Jillings’s report appeared in a Sunday paper. It had been severely cut. I understood why – I had focused on something key but “dry”, namely the insurers’ role in suppressing the report. But I felt I had failed these hurt children and my distress infected a weekend with old friends.
Even they seemingly thought I was exaggerating the scale of the scandal. I glumly trailed round a stately home’s garden with them and shut up. One, a psychoanalyst, wrote me a sweet, implicit apology after the Jimmy Savile revelations and said she and colleagues had since been inundated with people painfully disclosing long-hidden abuse. She thanked me for helping make the unbelievable believable.
I have sometimes thought of those who escaped the Holocaust during the war, but no one believed their stories. This has been a hard journalistic beat to tread. Yet I am not one of the victims of Britain’s holocaust of children, just a witness, a reporter. Dear God, please, this time, let us not fail them.
Eileen Fairweather is an award-winning journalist whose investigations over 20 years have helped expose several paedophile rings
Source: Telegraph (UK)