Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Home Secretary's Vow on Abuse Probe 'Whitewash'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Home Secretary's Vow on Abuse Probe 'Whitewash'

Article excerpt

Byline: Jonathan Walker Political Editor

ALONG-AWAITED inquiry into historic claims of child abuse is likely to look at claims of widespread abuse at children's homes in the North, the Home Secre tary has said.

It follows assertions that an earlier inquiry into hundreds of allegations dating back to the 1960s, called Oper ation Rose, was a "whitewash". Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that a wideranging inquiry into historic child sex abuse is to be reconstituted under a new chair, New Zealand High Court judge Lowell Goddard.

It means the investigation can finally get under way, following a series of delays since it was originally set up last July. Mrs May told Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell that she expected it to look at previous inquir ies such as Operation Rose.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Campbell asked her: "Will the inquiry look into all inquiries, including Operation Rose in North umberland, which has become known as a big whitewash?" She said: "As I have indicated, the inquiry will have significant histori cal reach and will consider all the evidence it needs to move forward. I would expect it to look at previous inquiries to ascertain what happened and what lessons need to be learned."

Operation Rose was a threeyear investigation by Northumbria Police into allegations of sexual and physi cal abuse at 61 children's homes run by voluntary bodies and councils in Northumberland, Newcastle, North Tyneside, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland.

It began in 1997 after a woman told a social worker that she and a friend had been abused as children in care.

But the PS5m inquiry resulted in only six convictions, despite uncov ering 530 allegations. Court hearings continued until 2002. Eventually, 32 people were charged with a total of 142 offences, of which five were found guilty, one pleaded guilty, 12 were found not guilty, nine had cases withdrawn, four died before their cases were heard and one remained on file. …

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