Councillor's justice call over North Wales abuse scandal
Published date: 05 November 2012 | Published by: Garth ApThomas and Rebecca Cole
A COUNCILLOR who was sexually abused as a child has backed calls for a fresh inquiry into Wrexham’s paedophile scandal.
Cllr Keith Gregory supports fellow abuse victim Steven Messham who believes a new investigation is needed to uncover the full horror of the exploitation of victims which took place at nearly 40 children’s homes across North Wales in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
As boys, both men lived at Wrexham’s Bryn Estyn care home which was targeted by a paedophile ring. It is now a conference and training centre used by Wrexham Council.
Cllr Gregory said even now, decades later, news reports on abuse make the full trauma of his childhood come flooding back.
“I have never received any counselling and that made it very hard,” he said.
“I was sexually, mentally and physically abused and there were a lot of very powerful people involved.
“I say everyone that took part must be brought to book.
“That is one of the reasons I became a councillor, to help those who feel powerless against injustice.”
On Friday BBC TV’s flagship current affairs programme Newsnight aired an interview with Mr Messham, who has called for a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron to press for a full investigation to fill in the gaps left by the Waterhouse Inquiry in 2000 which, he said, uncovered only a fraction of the crimes committed.
A report of the inquiry was never published and paperwork was pulped so the former Clwyd County Council could “maintain its insurance cover”.
Mr Messham and another victim, who was not identified, claim a leading Conservative politician from the Thatcher era was involved in persistent abuse of children.
Cllr Gregory, who stayed at the home between 1972 and 1974, said: “I believe the abuse specifically involving that man took place after I had left Bryn Estyn.
“Steve was at the home a little bit later on. We met years afterwards.”
Cllr Gregory, who represents Smithfield ward on Wrexham Council, has worked with Mr Messham in the past in running a support group called Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse.
Mr Messham revealed he went to the police at the time and was called a liar but the Welsh Government revealed it would be taking allegations very seriously.
A 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 we are unable to comment further until we have more detail.”
The Newsnight report concluded “there is simply not enough evidence to name names” but acknowledged that attitudes to such allegations had changed since the Jimmy Savile case came to light, giving victims “renewed hope”.
Cllr Gregory said he was not surprised at the huge scandal which has broken out over the child sex allegations made against the former BBC presenter.
“I saw he displayed a number of mannerisms that can be common behaviour in abusers,” he added. There were some well recognised signs.”