Child abuse inquiries

First, go and read Lawrence Serewicz’ blogpost on Jimmy Savile, the Shaw report, and England’s archives.

After Scotland and England, this week the focus widens again to encompass Wales as today Home Secretary Theresa May announces a new police investigation into allegations of child abuse in north Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.

Channel 4 7pm news tonight included an interview with MPs Karen Lumley & Paul Murphy (finished approx. 7.40pm).  Ironic that the presenter was Cathy Newman, author of the “FactCheck blog” http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/

The interview discussed the Waterhouse Inquiry (1996-2000) as well as the unpublished report of a previous independent enquiry.

Karen asserted that as Clwyd County Council no longer exists, “the report won’t exist any more”.  The report was commissioned by Clwyd County Council in March 1994 but it was never published and (according to the BBC Q&A) “copies were pulped amid legal concerns that they contained defamatory information”

Exactly the kind of ill-informed and inaccurate throwaway remark that does real damage.  Clwyd County Council archives are held at Denbighshire Record Office (first result in google search for ‘clwyd county council archives’ and ‘clwyd county council records’ ) and it ought to be easy to confirm whether or not the original report is held – and whether or not it is in the public interest for it to be available to the new inquiry.

Lawrence says in his blogpost

Our opportunity for justice, as an individual and as a community, relies upon public records providing evidence.  By ignoring our past, our archives, in pursuit of headlines and current events, we cede our collective memory to the tabloid press. In effect, journalism becomes our history and democracy loses its historical roots. If we are to reinvigorate our democracy, we need to take control of our past. We need to know our past to understand how it shapes our present, and our future.  To do that, we need our archives. For it is in the archives that we can find the evidence to hold power to account, and to exercise our democratic right to information. As democratic citizens, we need to hold onto our archives.

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