11/11/2012 The Wales Report


On Remembrance weekend, an interview with a soldier who liaises with families of those on the frontline. And the latest on the allegations of abuse in North Wales care homes.

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She had on Remembrance weekend, The Wales Report is in London. We will


be talking to one soldier who bears the heavy burden of liaising with


the families of those on the frontline her. And after a new


storm of controversy about the abuse allegations in North Wales,


we will be asking what more can be done to uncover the truth. Stay


Welcome to London for this week's edition of The Wales Report. It is


Remembrance Sunday. Dozens of people have gathered at the


Cenotaph on Whitehall for services drought Wales and the UK to


remember those lost in two world wars and other conflicts. We will


talk to one soldier with a particular duty when it comes to


liaising with forces' families. But the week's headlines have been


dominated by a new wave of controversy about abuse in care


homes in North Wales in the 1970s and 1980s. Two new inquiries have


been set up amid concerns that the full truth has yet to emerge. David


Williams, who reported on the scandal in the 1980s, has been


revisiting the events. They after day, month after month,


dozens of young people came here to give evidence of what the Home


Secretary last week called hate for, disgusting, a bore and crimes. If


some of those young people were listening to that statement, they


might be forgiven for thinking, but we told you so. Went you listening?


I knew many of those young people. I brought some of them here. It is


just an office block now, but at the time, it was the setting for


one of the biggest inquiries into child abuse. I watched as some of


the people who gave evidence here crumpled and broke down in the


witness box as they attempted to tell their awful stories of


physical and sexual abuse at the hands of those who was supposed to


be caring for them. Now, those same witnesses here that there are to be


more inquiries, an inquiry into the inquiry led by Sir Ronald


Waterhouse in 1996, and which sat here for 203 days and produced, at


a cost of �14 million, the lost in care report, a report which some


now say got a bit lost itself and did not go far enough. There is


also to be another inquiry about an inquiry, this time a police inquiry


about the original police inquiry into child abuse in North Wales.


But there are those, myself included, who wonder whether the


police inquiries went far enough and whether they pursued every line


of inquiry open to them. That would certainly be the view of bears


frost, who I first met in 1997. He had been the deputy chief executive


of the privately owned Brunel in community homes in North Wales. The


man who ran the homes, John Allen, was jailed in 1995 for six years


for abusing residents. Ten years before his boss was convicted of


those offences, there's frost had gone to the Chester police with


allegations about six residents had been sexually abused by John Allen.


He did not go to the Wrexham Police in whose area the homes were


operating. But he believed that Chester police would pass on his


concerns to their colleagues in North Wales. Naively, I thought


that the wheels were in motion and a long way, something would be done,


even if they didn't contact me. They would interview John Allen.


These were serious allegations of sexual abuse not by one, but by six


residents. Indeed. The thing that surprised me when I began to


realise nothing was being done was that this was not just a grassroots


worker talking to two policemen, it was the joint deputy chief


executive. I would have expected them, even if it was not on their


patch, to at least realise it must be serious if someone of that


position had taken the trouble to speak to them. 15 years ago, bears


frost made those same points in an interview with me. We wanted to


show that interview in a television programme, because we considered


that what he had to say was important evidence for the tribunal.


But the tribunal told us that they were concerned that there should be


no discussion of events while they were sitting. Indeed, they


threatened us with contempt proceedings if we showed that


interview. In the circumstances, we had no choice. We did not show the


interview. The tribunal knew that bears frost had information


relevant to its inquiry. But it did not call him as a witness. The


Waterhouse report concluded that there was no significant a mission


by North Wales Police in investigating the complaints of


abuse to children in care. It is now difficult to convey adequately


the emotional turmoil that young people who came here went through


as they tried to relive their past and to do so publicly. For some,


the inquiry came too late. I once carried the coffin of a young man


who had told me and others his story, but in the end, believed


that nobody believed him. He hanged himself. Some simply cannot let the


matter go. People like Steven Messham, a victim of abuse at 0


wears care homes, who has now apologised for making inaccurate


claims to a BBC Newsnight programme about a former leading Tory


politician. The BBC has issued an unreserved apology for the


Newsnight report, which led to former Conservative Party treasurer


Lord McAlpine of -- Lord McAlpine being wrongly implicated in online


forums in relation to the sexual abuse of boys in care homes in


North Wales. The extraordinary events of the last week caused


something of a media feeding frenzy, as journalists scrambled to try and


keep up with an ever-changing story. Then, late last night, came the


dramatic climax to the week, when George Entwistle, the director


general of the BBC, flanked by the corporation's chairman, Lord Patten,


emerged from BBC headquarters. have decided that the honourable


thing to do is to step down from the post of director general.


Alison Taylor, the whistle blower widely regarded as the person who


set in motion the investigations into child abuse in North Wales,


has been taken aback by the sudden resurgence of interest in a subject


in which she is well First. She first told me her story in a


television documentary I did more than 20 years ago. It centred on


the physical abuse carried out in a care home in Bangor, which once


stood here work but was later bulldozed to the ground to make way


for a housing complex. The home has gone, but the memory of the pain


and suffering endured by children here has not been forgotten. What


do you feel now, coming back 23 years after we did that first


programme? It is houses now and the building has gone, but is the


memory still with you? Yes, because you can erase buildings, but you


can't erase memories. It is not just me, but my whole family,


because my children's lives were very much taken up with what was


going on, especially after I contacted the police and council


about the abuse allegations. Events here are still vivid in the mind of


Alison Taylor, who once worked as the deputy head of a care home


which did everything except provide care. If it was not just abuse, it


was neglect and such mean us that you would not credit. Like children


having to line-up to have a little squirt of toothpaste on their


toothbrush every night. I felt as a woman that the girls had to ask for


cemetery pounds each time they needed a new one. -- they had to


ask for sanitary pads. That is humiliation. In the last week,


Alison Taylor has been pursued relentlessly by journalists trying


desperately to keep up with the story. All very different to the


time when she first tried to tell her story of abuse in care homes in


a Quinn up. The response was, shoot the messenger. Buried the messenger


very deep in concrete at. Well, you have done a good job of surviving


the concrete, but it took a long time. And that period included a


police inquiry. Which came to nothing initially. No, because we


know from the reports which were quoted in the tribunal report that


the police regarded the youngsters who were making the allegations


with the utmost prejudice. It was hoped that a chapter of terrible


stories of abuse at care homes like Bryn Estyn, near Wrexham, had come


to an end. The fear now is that the events of the last 48 hours could


make the continuing search for the truth of child abuse in North Wales


even more difficult and could even prevent victims of abuse who have


not yet told their story from coming forward to give evidence to


any new inquiry. For me, coming back here all these years after the


last big inquiry into child abuse in North Wales, I am struck by a


feeling of sadness and certainly concerned that it is not over yet.


There could be fresh allegations and matters to be put right. And if


there are, this time we had better all be prepared to listen. We


mustn't let down these victims again.


That was David Williams. With me is the Secretary of State for Wales.


There is a real sense of a firestorm this weekend, certainly


angle from the BBC, which I will come to. Are we in danger of losing


sight of the victims here, those who have suffered terrible abuse?


We should remember that that is what all this is about. There have


been concerns in North Wales for many years about whether the


Waterhouse inquiry was sufficiently in depth. But the processes we have


put in place over the last we should address concerns about that.


We have appointed Keith Bristow, the head of the National crime


agency, to work with North Wales Police in reviewing not only


historical complaints, but also fresh complaints that are emerging


now. The other part of the process is about reappointed a High Court


judge to conduct a review of the process of the Waterhouse inquiry


itself. This will take some time. But I would hope that those two


processes will give some assurance to the public of North Wales that


we are continuing to take these issues very seriously. You do


wonder if there are people out there who are victims who have not


spoken out yet. They may see this media storm happening. What would


be the incentive for them to come forward and have their say, because


it seems a dangerous area to be in? This is the problem when dealing


with issues of child abuse, particularly historical child abuse,


because these people have moved on with their lives, and to renew the


pain they felt all those years ago is quite an undertaking. We would


like them to come forward nonetheless. We can assure the


individuals who may want to report those incidents that they will be


treated very sympathetically by a very experienced investigators. By


all means, consider whether you want to come forward, but if you do,


come forward in the knowledge that you will be treated with great


concern. There is a view, of course, that we will have inquiries into


all inquiries. But you are saying it is much wider? It is a wide


remit. You have a very experienced criminal investigator or in the


form of Keith Bristow, who has been given a remit not just to look at


old allegations, but any new allegations that come forward. Each


of those is an allegation of criminal behaviour. It is possible


that it should be dealt with by the police. It is being overseen by the


National crime agency to give people extra comfort. We are taking


it very seriously, but it is by no means just a historical review of


what happened 20 years ago. know the area very well. Was it


your feeling at the time that the Waterhouse inquiry was too narrow?


I did not have that feeling them, but of course, this is one of the


issues that the Chief of justice has been asked to do that. She will


make up her mind. Do you have a view on it? I am not in a position


to express a view of, because the Chief of justice will be reporting


to me. It would be wrong for me to express a personal view. But she


will be looking at this in detail, and she will look at the workings


of the inquiry. That is a major undertaking, because it was a very


long inquiry that lasted three years before it reported. He so she


certainly has a job to do, but I am sure she will do it well. If you go


back to the early '90s, there was a report compiled at that time which


was not published for lots of reasons. Apparently, because of


some legal concerns. Do you think parts of that report should be made


available now? That is a report I have not seen. I have no idea what


was in it. I understand most of the contents of the report, most of the


copies were shredded. It was prepared for the North Wales


council itself. There may be a copy in existence under the control of


Flintshire County Council. They will have to take legal advice as


to whether it would be in their interest to publish it. But the big


problem was that the report was conducted under conditions other


than conditions of privilege. The concern was a bit if it were


published, it might be regarded as One of the consequences is the


resignation of the BBC's Director- General, in what is clearly a


crisis for the corporation. Do you think he made the right decision?


think he had no alternative, frankly. What we have in the BBC is


easily the biggest news organisations in the country. It is


in the world. It is essential that the public should have confidence


in the BBC and that it is an organisation that can be relied on.


I think the Newsnight report was a very shoddy piece of journalism. I


am speaking as a lawyer and I know that I would check my facts about


simple things such as identity. I think that the good news of


Newsnight was badly damaged by that report. I think that George


Entwistle had no option but to do what he did. Really, it does seem


to me that there may be other organisation issues within the BBC


that need to be addressed urgently. Such as? Well, it is quite clear


that there must have been or there should have been a process of


reporting to the Director-General if there were a programme, such as


the Newsnight, that was apparently, at one stage, going to name a


senior Conservative politician. Clearly there was no such


arrangement in place. I think that there must be organisational issues


below Director-General level that need to be addressed. It is fair to


say because of the Savile inquiries, the BBC management structure has


been, let's just say heavily affected by that. Well, I have no


doubt that is the case. If you have got a news item of the proportions,


of the magnitude of the Newsnight report, there should have been


arrangements in place to draw this issue to the attention of the


Director-General. I am astonished they were not in place and the


shoddyness of the journalism makes it all the more the necessary for


that to be in place. How soon does the BBC node to appoint a new


Director-General? It needs to review structures completely. What


we need is somebody at the helm of this organisation, which is an


important British institution after all, who is capable of inspiring


the confidence, not marely of the staff of the BBC, but also -- not


merely of the staff of the BBC, but also the audience of the BBC, who I


have no doubt feel badly let down by this episode. It has been a week


of contrasting news headlines, including vivid ones in Washington


for the presidential election. One common theme - the use of social


media, which is transforming the way we gather news and transforming


In Westminster and here in the Assembly the week has been


dominated by allegations of child abuse. If there is something which


has changed since the Waterhouse inquiry, that is social media.


Names have been Tweeted and ancient liable laws are having trouble


catching up. Politicians who use Twitter are finding some dark and


disturbing elements to confront N another part of this complex world,


there was more controversy here when Leanne Wood suggested victims


of abuse could get in touch with her via social media. The First


Minister was not a fan of that idea. I do not think it is appropriate


that people should be encouraged to get in touch with politicians. I


think it is important that they should be asked to get in touch


with authorities who can do things for them and properly investigate


their complaints. I would urge them to do that. She was Sangin about


that attack saying the victims would be suspicious of talking to


the police, why not give them another opportunity to raise their


voice. Either way, social media is clearly changing the rules. You


have been getting in touch with us over the past week on different


issues. The most persistent concern is around the health service in


Wales. A retired consultant has been in touch on what he says are


declining standards in accident and emergency care. I would rather die


at home than die at the hospital. That is the way I look at it. I


have come to that state because I have lost a lot of confidence. Are


a lot of very good doctors in the health service, a lot of very good


nurses, they are doing their work. Somehow this is all controlled by...


It has become a political hot potato. Labour blame the


Conservatives - it should be completely out of the political


area. And, in the world of Twitter, it


was a week of records as I am sure Huw will testify the US elections


were a phenomenon. Barack Obama announced his success on Twitter.


This message from the President looks like the most reTweeted in


history. Within a few hours 500,000 people had re-sent it. Welsh


politicians are not in the same league, any more than Welsh


journalists there. Top of the league of Tweeters David


Jones, MP. And this week's guest, well he is a Tweet-refusenic. If


you cannot join them... Tell us what we should look at. Tell us


what concerns you. You can find us via e-mail.


Next week we'll have more reaction. Earlier today thousands of veterans


marched along Whitehall after a service of remembrance led by the


Queen. There were political leaders there including the leader of Plaid


Cymru. He has been leading a campaign to improve the lot of


military veterans. We will hear from him shortly. We have spoke on


the an officer in the Welsh Guards about his job of liaising the


families of those on the front line. For Captain Brian Moore that can


involve delivering the worst No matter how you prepare yourself


it is always a shock because you are delivering some brutal and


unsavoury news to a family and you are pretty much destroying them for


a period of time and you are there then to help them put it all back


together. When an incident occurs in an operational theatre, they


have a procedure called "opt- minimise." All external


communication is closed down. 108ers will respect that --


soldiers will respect that close down of communication. They have


lost a comrade, a friend. They could have lost a relative. They


will respect that. Social media does play a part, obviously. When


the information comes back, you cannot control families, members of


the public who get the information from the family and they may post


it. We've had occasions where non- family members have posted the


information, which has caused some distress to the family. The


soldiers in service they respect the opt minimise procedures.


Walking up the path, you know you're going to knock on the door.


You know that somebody's life is going to change from that day on.


You've got to be professional. You've got to be mature and you've


got to be in the right mind-set to do it. That is all we can do as


soldiers, you know. We are trained to do stuff like this.


Some people want to know the very fine intimate detail. Some people


just want to know the overall incident they have been involved in.


People will deny this happened to them. People will get angry.


People will just accept what has happened. Because in this little


bubble at this particular time they've never been in before. They


are not angry that their sons or daughters have been injured in the


theatre of operations, they understand they volunteered A


couple of casesvy been involved in the families have said, sadly it


happened, they were doing what they were doing, it is what they


volunteered for and what they I have a serving son in law and if


it happened to me, I don't know how I would react. The people I dealt


with, I can never understand their pain or grief, because it's not me.


As we approach remembrance time, we have to remember the first and


Second World War, where whole communities were devastated.


Communities in Wales are small. That may be the only one in that


community with somebody in the military. If they lose somebody


they may feel isolated. They will get sympathy, emfathi from all


their friends and -- empathy from all their friends and family. Years


ago there was a whos who of people who had lost one. Now it can be


more difficult for families and individuals. It is really quite


tragic. Well, that was the story of Captain


On Remembrance Sunday, when you have a prominent role and people


are focusing on the need of the armed services are we losing sites


of the veterans? I think we are. It is so haphazard when people who are


discharge Road looked after. It depends to a large extent which


regiment, whether your senior officers are interested in what


happens to you when you are discharged. To put it in a nutshell,


I would say, when we spend months training up these people for combat,


we need to spend a similar time decompressing them back for civvy


street. It is difficult for some people who have been in the Army


for a fair while even to understand or to realise they need to pay


bills regularly. They have got to get somewhere to live. They may


deal with marital breakdown, substance misuse and so on. There


are many problems which confront people in the Armed Forces.


don't think that is the principal job of the British Legion who


provides a lot of these services. What different kind of provision


are you talking about? They do a lot of excellent work, like the


Poppy today. One of the problems we have, actually, was there are


between 3,000-4,000 military charities. I think we should be


looking at perhaps some of them getting together, some of them


being able to provide the expertise in a given area. Others


concentrating on something else,er than have a haphazard competition.


I say primarily it is the role for Government. That is the crucial


point? That is the crucial point F the third sector want to come in


and assist as well, well. The primary responsibility has to be


with Government. At the end of the day, they were out serving the


state, therefore the state needs to provide for them. What has prompted


your interested in this? Is it seeing examples which have bothered


you? Until a couple of years ago I used to pratise at the bar, in my


spare time and in one five-day period I saw half a dozen extremely


serious cases for which there was no reason or certainly no motive.


It worried me. When I looked at them, all six of them were involved,


did involve ex-service people from Iraq one and two and Afghanistan.


So, I got thinking then, how many of these unfortunate people end up


in the criminal justice system. We found 10% of the prison state. That


is many thousands of people. That is remarkable. It is a huge


statistic. It maitd be denied by the Ministry of Defence. -- may be


denied by the Ministry of Defence. Many of them, by the way, will be


suffer from psychiatric conditions. So what we need to do is to screen


these people properly. My view is we would look at a fraction of


those people getting involved in crime. When you put the feelers out,


what kind of response have you had? Well the Welsh committee are


looking at it. A lot of good quork has been done by our friends --


work has been done by our friends. We have the military covenant


enshrined in law. We need to back that up with positive and firm


action. That is what I am pressing for you. The time is right for that


to happen. Good of you to talk to Next week we will back in Cardiff


and we will get to grips with a subject that lots of you are


On Remembrance weekend, The Wales Report is in London. We'll be hearing from a soldier whose role is to liaise with families of those on the frontline. And after a week of new revelations and allegations of abuse in North Wales care homes, we'll be discussing the latest.

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