Abuse: the Waterhouse Report
20 February 2000
By Simon Regan
The fact that the Waterhouse report went as far as it did is highly commendable, and obviously long overdue. But the trouble with any investigation which tries to break through a 'cult of silence' is the lingering doubts that it will ever get down to the whole full truth of the matter. Waterhouse is probably merely the tip of the iceberg.
The report suggests there is 'no evidence' that Freemasonry had anything to do with the scandal. Yet there were two inadequate and inconclusive police inquiries, including one into a senior officer, by a force in North Wales riddled with Freemasons.
There was a consistent lack of initiative on the part of the local Clwyd CC in the face of overwhelming evidence of consistent child abuse at Bryn Estyn, ostensibly because the council insurers advised against any action. This in itself insults democracy in a way that borders on the criminal. By a policy of non-action, both the police and the council because embroiled in a blatant cover-up.
Anyone who has even vaguely become acquainted with paedophilia knows very well that they will go to the ends of the earth to keep their activities absolutely secret. They are professional experts in covering their tracks.
In the early nineties, in the now defunct Scallywag magazine, which I founded, we interviewed in some depth twelve former inmates at Bryn Estyn who had all been involved in the Wrexham paedophile ring, which the tribunal acknowledges existed. Most of these interviews were extremely harrowing and disturbing, but were gently and sensitively conducted over pub lunches where the victim could relax. We subsequently persuaded ten of them to make sword affidavits which we proposed to use as back up to half a dozen paedophile stories we later published.
Two of these young men, who had been 14-years-old at the time, swore they had been not only introduced to the paedophile ring operating in the Crest Hotel in Wrexham but had later been escorted on three or four occasions to an address in Pimlico where they were further abused.
We took them separately to Pimlico and asked them to point out the building where this had taken place. There were both positive in their identification. It turned out to be the private flat of a well known, and since highly discredited lobbyist who later went into obscurity in some disgrace because of his involvement with Mohammed al-Fayed and the 'cash for questions' scandal. At the time we ran a story entitled 'Boys for Questions' and named several prominent members of the then Thatcher government. These allegations went to the very top of the Tory party, yet there was a curious and almost ominous lack of writs.
The lobbyist was a notorious 'queen' who specialised in gay parties with a 'political mix' in the Pimlico area - most convenient to the Commons - and which included selected flats in Dolphin Square. The two young men were able to give us very graphic descriptions of just what went on, including acts of buggery, and alleged that they were only two of many from children's homes other than North Wales.
There was, to my certain knowledge, at least one resignation from the Conservative office in Smith Square once we had published our evidence and named names.
Subsequently, over a rent dispute which is still a matter of litigation, Dr Julian Lewis, now Conservative MP for New Forest (East) but then deputy head of research at Conservative Central Office in Smith Square, managed to purchase the contents of our offices, which included all our files. It had been alleged that we owed rent, which we disputed, but under a court order the landlords were able to change the locks and seize our assets which included all our files, including those we had made on paedophiles. It was apparently quite legal, but it was most certainly a dirty trick.
All of a sudden very private information, some of it even privileged between ourselves and our lawyer during the John Major libel action, was being published in selected, pro-Conservative sections of the media.
Subsequently, during a court case initiated by Lewis, I was able in my defence to seek discovery of documents and asked to see the seized files. The paedophile papers were missing. This is a very great shame, because Sir Ronald Waterhouse certainly should have been aware of them.
I believe that the secrecy the Establishment wraps around itself easily equals that of the paedophiles. They really do look after each other and quite professionally cover their tracks.
The real trouble about exposing paedophiles is that former victims of child abuse make lousy witnesses. By the very nature of the abuse, when they are rudely shoved out into the wide world (one of the witnesses, Steven Messham, for example, was released on his sixteenth birthday on Christmas day after two years of abuse, and had to sleep rough on the streets for four and a half months) they are often deeply psychologically disturbed.
Some of the extreme cases commit suicide, many more were sexually disorientated in the worst possible way. Some became gay prostitutes, others drug addicts, and in nearly every case, at some stage, they needed lengthy counselling. Marriages quickly disintegrated in psychological turmoil and a lot of former victims had real difficulties raising their own children. There are very few victims of child abuse who come out of it without deep scars.
It was all very well for us to take statements from former victims in the cosy atmosphere of a pub lunch, but put them up against an agile and eminent QC whose sole task is to discredit them, and they quickly crumble, even break down in tears. Many former victims now have criminal records of some kind, owing almost exclusively to the abuse itself, and the barrister will brutally exploit this as evidence that the witness is unreliable and tainted. Faced with the choice of a clearly neurotic young man who quickly falls down in the witness box, and a smooth, experienced, erudite and often highly respected culprit, juries tend to give the accused the benefit of the doubt.
I watched it in the now famous Court 13 at the High Court during the libel action between former Supt Gordon Anglesea and Private Eye (and others) when, despite the fact that under cross examination Anglesea had to admit that his evidence did not correspond with his own notebooks, the 'other side' subsequently tore the five main prosecution witnesses to pieces in a monumental act of judicial harassment. Like the whole story of child abuse in North Wales and elsewhere, it broke my heart.