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FACT North Wales claim local authority staff treated unfairly



A PRESSURE group last night called for an inquiry into a North Wales council’s handling of abuse allegations.According to FACT (Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers) North Wales, Wrexham County Borough Council is the most inflexible authority in the country.The group spoke out following the case of David Jones, head of Ysgol y Drindod, Wrexham.He was subjected to a four-month-long inquiry after being accused of holding a pupil by the arm and keeping vodka in his office.Mr Jones was eventually cleared but is unwell and has been unable to return to work.A FACT (North Wales) spokesman said the organisation had been asked to support several people in Wrexham in recent months.The spokesman said he was aware of several others who had been suspended for long periods.”We know of one case that lasted almost seven years.”And we are assisting in another which has gone on for over two years,” he added.The organisation has twice written to chief executive Isobel Garner expressing concern and asking her to confirm how many members of staff have been suspended – or given “garden leave” – as a result of abuse allegations.They have also questioned the financial cost.To date Mrs Garner has declined to provide the information.”Obviously we understand that it is a particularly sensitive issue in the Wrexham area where abuse did take place in children’s homes, but Wrexham council has a very hostile approach to abuse inquiries,” said the spokesman.”In far too many cases there is a presumption of guilt and the accused is treated unfairly and left without support.”It is time the council realised the effect false allegations have on its staff and their families.”The impact is often so traumatic that allegation, suspension and the investigative process is now regarded as a life-threatening event,” he said.He claimed that Wrexham was the most inflexible authority in Wales, while other councils appreciated the need to support staff and their families.In October last year David Baines, of Pontrobin, near Wrexham, was found dead within hours of being suspended from St Chris-topher’s School, Wrexham, where he worked as an assistant.An inquest into his death is yet to be held.”We call on the council to publish details of the extent to which teachers and carers are accused of abuse, the costs involved in pursuing these allegations, in lost man hours and in staff replacement costs, and to set up an inquiry into its handling of abuse complaints concerning its staff,” said the FACT spokesman.A Wrexham council spokeswoman said: “We follow strict guidelines when dealing with sensitive matters such as these.”Suspensions are implemented in order to protect both teachers and pupils that may be involved in any allegations.”We always make occupational and counselling support available to staff as part of our standard procedures,” she added.

Daily Post