The conviction of former North Wales police inspector Gordon Anglesea for indecent assault against two teenage boys has been a long time coming. Too long.
His conviction last week along with John Allen, the former owner of Bryn Alyn and Bryn Estyn children’s homes in North Wales, who was convicted of a further 33 offences against children, are the high spots of the National Crime Agency’s Operation Pallial investigation.
This investigation along with the Macur inquiry into child sexual abuse in North Wales would never have been set up unless Theresa May when she was home secretary, had seen the need for it.
And some of the victims would never had any justice or ever believed.
I have reservations about the openness of the Macur inquiry but the police investigation has been a success contrary to views of some naysayers. My Macur reservations are heightened by revelations on Paddy French’s Rebecca website which suggests that Lady Macur was less than open about Anglesea lying to her. See the link here.
Those like Harvey Proctor who condemn Theresa May for establishing the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse might well pause. For this police investigation has yielded results. It proved those who said that there was no need for further investigations into the North Wales and it is not worth investigating claims of historic sexual abuse were wrong.
Both convicted men were arrogant, evil and thought because of their powerful positions in the North Wales hierarchy they were untouchable and could abuse vulnerable children at will.
Both mounted similar defences. John Allen said he wasn’t gay, was not sexually attracted to children and had suffered a “miscarriage of justice ” when he was convicted in 1996 of sexually assaulting six boys.in the first place. His accusers were making it up to get compensation money, his defence lawyers said. He is now rightly in jail for life.
Gordon Anglesea took a similar line saying it was a conspiracy by the survivors to accuse him of indecent assault so they could obtain money.
This is the man who won £375,000 damages in 1994 against The Observer, the Independent on Sunday, Private Eye and HTV, the holder of the ITV franchise in Wales over allegations that he had abused children during visits he made to the Bryn Estyn children’s home just outside Wrexham. He also wanted pursued the satirical magazine Scallywag through its distributors.
It is worth looking at the Inforrm blog today which carries a report on how the libel case was successful.
Operation Pallial – which ceased handling new claims last month – has now succeeded in convicting nine men.A total of 340 people have made contact with the investigation and 84 complaints were still being actively investigated at the end of July.
It would be a good idea if the National Crime Agency shared with other police forces how they managed to secure convictions for historic child sexual abuse – as they seem to have made a good fist of it. And the police need advice on how to proceed with such cases – particularly in North Wales where former police officers were accused.
For the survivors it has been particularly grim – waiting all that time for justice. As Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye, pointed out : ” I can’t help thinking of the witnesses who came forward to assist our case at the time, one of whom later committed suicide telling his wife that he never got over ‘not being believed”.
That about sums up the injustice survivors have had for 30 years.