Child sex abuse inquiry opens Welsh office in Cardiff

Child sex abuse inquiry opens Welsh office in Cardiff

  • 5 hours ago
  • From the section Wales
Media captionProf Alexis Jay is heading the independent sexual abuse inquiry
Victims of historical
sexual abuse have been urged to come forward and give evidence to an
independent inquiry after it opened an office in Wales.

Prof Alexis Jay, the fourth chairwoman of the troubled probe, attended the launch event in Cardiff.
Its “truth project” is being rolled out in Wales, where victims and survivors of abuse can share their experiences.
The inquiry has been beset by controversies – including the three previous chairwomen resigning.
Prime
Minister Theresa May set it up as home secretary in 2014 to investigate
allegations made against local authorities, religious organisations,
the armed forces and public and private institutions in England and
Wales, as well as people in the public eye.
Last week Prof Jay unveiled her strategy to complete most of its work by 2020 and said she will not seek “any reduction or restriction” in its scope.
But she has denied that the inquiry was in crisis.
“The inquiry itself and the many people employed by it have been united to this point,” Prof Jay told BBC Wales.
“Myself
and my fellow panel members are absolutely clear, and have always been
clear, about what needs to be done, but we do need the time and space to
get on with this critical work.
“The inquiry has never been in
crisis in terms of the 160-odd staff that we employ, they’ve been
getting on with their work very purposefully and because they are
committed to it.”

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s launch, Prof Jay said its purpose
was to “generate knowledge, interest and awareness amongst victims and
survivors of the Truth Project and to encourage them to come forward”.
“That’s
one of the reasons we have so many organisations whose role is to
support victims and survivors in attendance, as well as many of the
statutory agencies,” she said.

Media captionAlan Collins, a specialist child abuse lawyer, says there is a ‘powerful motivation’ for victims to come forward

One alleged victim of childhood abuse, who is due to give
evidence to the truth project next month, told BBC Wales he hopes
engaging with the inquiry will help him find “a bit of peace”.
“There’s
been a lot of controversy with the project and I have had the element
of doubt, until I had an email last week saying we’d like to interview
you,” he said.
“So from my point of view, I’m running with it, I’m
going to give my evidence, my story, and I’m hopeful… that’s all I can
be, really.”
The man says he was abused by a youth worker in the late 1970s while attending a summer camp in Porthcawl.
Although
the allegations – echoed by two other men – were investigated by South
Wales Police, the investigation stalled due to the poor health of the
accused, now aged in his 80s.
The three men are now pursuing a
civil claim for damages against Cardiff Council, who they claim employed
the youth worker at the time.
A spokesman for Cardiff council said the authority was “unable to comment on specific cases whilst matters are ongoing”.
NSPCC Cymru said the launch of the Wales office is an “important step” in reaching Welsh survivors of abuse.


Abuse inquiry: How we got here

7 July 2014 – Government announces independent inquiry into the way public bodies investigated and handled child sex abuse claims. Baroness Butler-Sloss chosen as head
9 July – Baroness Butler-Sloss faces calls to quit because her late brother, Sir Michael Havers, was attorney general in the 1980s
14 July – She stands down, saying she is “not the right person” for the job
5 September – Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf named the new head of the inquiry
11 October – Mrs Woolf discloses she had five dinners with Lord Brittan from 2008-12
22 October – Abuse victim launches legal challenge against Mrs Woolf leading the inquiry, amid growing calls for her resignation
31 October – Victims’ groups tell government officials they are “unanimous” Mrs Woolf should quit. She steps down later that day
4 February 2015 – Justice Lowell Goddard, a serving judge of the High Court of New Zealand, announced as the new head of the inquiry
13 July – Dame Lowell’s pay is revealed as more than £480,000 a year
November – Inquiry begins hearing directly from victims and survivors
4 August 2016 – Dame Lowell writes to Home Secretary Amber Rudd to resign from her post
11 August 2016 – Prof Alexis Jay named as new head of the inquiry


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