Richard Webster was an investigative journalist, well loved by FACT members, who died in 2011 aged 60. Our chairman has written this tribute which is particularly pertinent as our 20th Anniversary approaches.
Richard researched and wrote about many of the issues central to FACT’s work, he was very far sighted and I believe decades ahead in his realisation of the truth. He was also involved with FACT in the early days. In particular his books ‘The Great Children’s Home Panic’ (1998) and ‘The Secret of Bryn Estyn’ (2005) are directly related to FACT and the devastating effect of false allegations on its members. Bryn Estyn and the other care establishments are where FACT started so it’s important we remember this as we approach our 20th year. Many have gone before us (some to their graves) and sadly not seen the progress we are making for them today.
It is often all too easy to think we are not making progress but bear in mind in those early days FACT was refused permission by Wrexham council to hold a conference and Richard, who was due to be one of the speakers, spoke out.
Wikipedia – ‘In 2005, Wrexham council decided, following legal advice, to refuse permission for Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers (FACT) North Wales, a support group for carers and teachers, to hold its conference ‘False Allegations – Truthful Answers’ at the Erlas Centre, one of its venues, after it learned the purpose of the event. Webster, who was to have been a key speaker at the conference, had been going to discuss The Secret of Bryn Estyn. Wrexham councillor Malcolm King was quoted saying that he was “very pleased” that the council had prevented something that “would have been very hurtful to many people who have already been hurt enough”. Webster stated in reply that he was “flabbergasted” by the council’s action, and that Mr King “entirely missed the point”, since the evidence showed that there never was a paedophile ring based at Bryn Estyn and that dozens of staff had been wrongly accused’.
We are now welcomed wherever we wish to meet and we don’t creep in and out, we go with head held high! I am sure Richard would have been so happy to know we were welcomed at the world renowned learning centre The University of Oxford where we held a conference! However, as we who hold the flag today know all too well the atrocity of false allegations goes on and our voice is going to be heard no matter how long it takes!!
Read more about Richard Webster in The Guardian