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Children's Commissioner For Wales Demands New Investigation Into Children's Home Abuse Scandal

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BRYN ESTYN
The former Bryn Estyn boys home, Wrexham, which closed down following claims of child abuse | PA

The children's commissioner for Wales has backed calls for a new inquiry into allegations that a senior Tory was involved in a paedophile ring three decades ago.

The commissioner, Keith Towler insisted concerns about a cover-up by powerful people were "understandable" and a full investigation was the only way to resolve the issue.

The intervention came after a victim of the north Wales care home scandal criticised the way the original Waterhouse Inquiry was conducted.

The tribunal, led by Sir Ronald Waterhouse, heard evidence from more than 650 individuals who had been in some 40 homes between 1974 and 1990, publishing its report in 2000.

But in an interview with the BBC's Newsnight, victim Steve Messham said the terms of reference meant he was not able to raise abuse that took place outside the care system.

In the Newsnight report, Meesham said among his abusers was a leading Tory politician of the Thatcher era. However the BBC said there was not enough evidence to name the man in their report.

"In the home it was the standard abuse, which was violent and sexual. Outside it was like you were sold, we were taken to the Crest Hotel in Wrexham, mainly on Sunday nights, where they would rent rooms," he said.

"One particular night that I always recall is when I was basically raped, tied down and abused by nine different men."

Mr Messham said a senior Tory from the time, who was not named by the programme, had been involved.

Mr Towler told BBC Radio 5's Saturday Edition programme: "I would support a full inquiry.

"The fact that we have someone on camera now who was clearly a victim of appalling abuse in Bryn Estyn children's home back in the 1970s and 80s, saying that what he wanted to say was outside of the terms of reference, and people told him that he could not say these things and he couldn't talk about people who had abused him, is clearly wrong.

"The fact that he is now saying that and he has now said it so publicly means we have to respond to that."

He said the suggestion of a cover-up raised concerns that had to be addressed.

"The only way that we can clearly put that to bed is to say, at the top of the tree, we will conduct that inquiry and we will allow that inquiry to go as far as it need to go to make sure that the evidence that witnesses want to give and that victims wants to give is fully heard.

"Unless you do that that level of suspicion will always be around that there is a cover-up... No-one should be protected. Society needs to know that it is clean in this sense."

A spokeswoman for Mr Towler said he would write to Wales' First Minister Carwyn Jones tomorrow demanding an inquiry into the latest allegations.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's World This Weekend, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood backed the call saying: "We must get to the bottom of this, we can't leave it hanging.

"The process must be transparent and open, and the victims must have some sort of justice."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "The Welsh Government is very concerned by these allegations and will look at all the evidence as it comes forward.

"Even though the allegations relate to the period before devolution, we believe in transparency in dealing with such issues, but are unable to comment further until we have more detail."

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