New: Media release. "Witchhunt’ claims against Bryn Estyn false, say care workers.
Innocent care workers at the Bryn Estyn children’s home in North Wales have responded to the latest allegations and the new inquiries.
Speaking on behalf of Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers, solicitor Chris Saltrese, who represented falsely accused Bryn Estyn staff at the Waterhouse Tribunal said:
“There is no truth in the allegations that Jimmy Savile or any other ‘people in high places’ were allowed to abuse boys at Bryn Estyn, or that staff were complicit in abuse.
“The problem is not that allegations were not followed up on evidence, but that the evidence for a large part of what was claimed to have occurred at Bryn Estyn, and accepted by the Waterhouse Tribunal, was false.”
“The Waterhouse Tribunal was flawed, but not in the manner now suggested. It was flawed because there was already a presumption that alleged endemic abuse at the home was a fact.”
“The Tribunal was not empowered to examine the safety of any criminal convictions which had preceded it. And in the case of Peter Howarth, the deputy head, this was a critical flaw.
“As he died in prison during the Tribunal, he was never able to give evidence and appeal his conviction.
“The Tribunal also declined to take evidence in respect of false allegations, the methods of police investigation and former residents who were supporting staff and were horrified at the way the former approved school was being portrayed in the media.”
“The Jillings report was not published on legal advice because it was unsound. It was based not on official documentation but on narrative evidence of accusers.
“When it was leaked to the press, a further round of speculative misinformation was circulated in the media which became the platform for the Waterhouse Tribunal.”
“It should be noted that the allegations have been orchestrated by compensation claims both in respect of the CICA and far larger claims against local authorities.
“There is a true story of Bryn Estyn. It can be read in the late Richard Webster’s meticulously researched book The Secret of Bryn Estyn and on his website which is still in existence here
“The Home Select Committee examined the broader issue of past abuse in children’s homes in 2002. Its report was highly critical of current police practices and found that miscarriages of justice had occurred. This report was shelved by the then Labour government.
“While child abuse is horrific, so are false allegations and wrongful convictions. In fact these are more heinous, since these are an error of commission by the institutional of state, rather than omission.
“Until the relevant authorities and inquiries critically examine their own practices and assumptions, these witchhunts will continue to proliferate and further undermine the welfare of the country at large.”
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FACT is a voluntary organisation set up in 2000 in response to the escalating number of historic police trawl investigations implicating innocent care workers and teachers and was supported by former Labour MP Claire Curtis-Thomas.
- The Secret of Bryn Estyn – hard copies available from Chapel Books here
- The Conduct of Investigations into Past Cases of Abuse in Children’s Homes Published 31 October 2002
- Report together with an Appendix, Proceedings of the Committee, and a Minutes of Evidence HC 836-I ISBN 0 21 500593 7
- The Government’s response