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Tuesday, October 12, 1999 Published at 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK

UK: Wales

Child abuse inquiry report due to reach Murphy

The Bryn Estyn home in Wrexham was the scene of child abuse

The government has confirmed that the report into child abuse in north Wales is due to be passed to the Welsh Secretary, Paul Murphy, within the next week.

But the 500,000-word report is not expected to be published until next year, probably January.

The report into abuse in children's homes in north Wales was completed 17 months after the end of a £12m inquiry.

Welsh Secretary Paul Murphy is expected to present the report to Parliament and then the National Assembly.

"We were made out to be liars," says victim Stephen Messham
The report followed the 15-month inquiry chaired by High Court judge Sir Ronald Waterhouse in Ewloe, Flintshire.

When he finished the inquiry in May 1998 Sir Ronald said he expected to have the report completed the following autumn.

But the sheer volume of material - 700 allegations of abuse involving 170 individuals - delayed publication for 12 months.

More than 250 witnesses appeared before the inquiry and a further 200 statements were presented.

But as Mr Murphy takes delivery of the report there are already criticisms of the way the tribunal was conducted.

Stephen Meesham, spokesman for those who claim to have been abused, said the tribunal did not get to the truth.

"Every perpetrator that went on the stand denied it all," he said.

[ image: Victim Stephen Messham has criticised the tribunal]
Victim Stephen Messham has criticised the tribunal
"We were made out to be liars, in fact we were abused all over again.

"That tribunal should never have taken place the way it took place."

The inquiry was commissioned by former Welsh Secretary William Hague in 1996.

It followed a North Wales Police investigation into allegations of abuse in homes in the former Clwyd and Gwynedd counties sparked by information from a Gwynedd council social worker Alison Taylor.

A total of 150 former residents came forward claiming to have been victims of abuse.

The police inquiry led to 10 convictions. The abusers were sentenced to a total of 49 years imprisonment for offences committed at homes throughout north Wales dating back decades.

A large number of claims have already been settled by the former Clwyd and Gwynedd councils in whose care many of the victims were placed when they were abused.

But although the inquiry is complete the matter is set to go on.

The first compensation cases following the £12m inquiry are expected to be heard in the High Court at Chester in March next year.

And if the names of more alleged abusers are made public legal action could follow.

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