Child abuse ‘witch hunt’ group gets council ban

May 16, 2005

COUNCIL bosses last night defended their decision to cancel a conference organised by a group which casts doubt on North Wales child abuse allegations.The conference, featuring author Richard Webster, was to take place at the council-run Erlas Centre, on the former Bryn Estyn site, in Wrexham,Byrn Estyn was highlighted in the Waterhouse Report as a house of horrors where children were badly abused.Wrexham councillor Malcolm King, a central figure in bringing about the abuse inquiry, backed the council’s moves.He blasted the proposed conference as insensitive to young abuse victims.But campaign group Fact North Wales, which organised the conference, hit back, claiming the council was refusing to face the facts.Mr Webster’s book – The Secret of Bryn Estyn: The Making of a Modern Witch Hunt – claims there was no widescale child abuse and innocent carers and teachers were jailed.In a letter to Fact, chief education officer Merfyn Lloyd Jones said the authority had decided to cancel the booking.Coun King blasted Fact, claiming they had a single idea – that child abuse was a big lie made up by money-grabbing adults who conned both the police and the court.”Such an argument is deeply offensive and hurtful to the many tens of thousands of people in Britain who have suffered abuse – many having told no one because they were told by their abusers no one would believe them.”But Fact North Wales chairman Michael Barnes said: “It shows how their mind is shut to the part they have played in promoting the myth that carers and teachers were responsible for the widespread abuse of children in residential schools and homes in North Wales.”Now that independent research by a distinguished cultural historian has uncovered what really happened at Bryn Estyn and in other care homes in Wales the council refuses to face up to the truth.”Fact is now planning to stage the June 3 conference at another Wrexham venue.

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