Detectives investigating historic child abuse at Welsh care homes receive allegations from 105 victims in first month of probe Operation Pallial launched after probe into notorious Bryn Estyn home105 victims from 22 areas of UK and Ireland have spoken to policeNewsnight botched report also wrongly accused Lord McAlpine



14:39 GMT, 17 December 2012

A 'super inquiry' set up to expose the true scale of historic child abuse in North Wales has been contacted by 105 victims in its first month.

Operation Pallial, led by Keith Bristow, director general of the National Crime Agency (NCA), is re-examining allegations that a paedophile ring targeted care and children's homes there during the 1970s and 1980s.

The new inquiry was announced by Home Secretary Theresa May last month after a BBC investigation found that previous investigations into sexual abuse only uncovered the 'tip of the iceberg'.

But the Newsnight probe also
falsely accused Lord McAlpine of being a paedophile who targeted
children at the notorious Bryn Estyn institution near Wrexham.

Scandal: The Bryn Estyn boys home in Wrexham was closed down because of child abuse and a new probe has been contacted by 105 victims from this and other North Wales institutions

Scandal: The Bryn Estyn boys home in Wrexham was closed down because of child abuse and a new probe has been contacted by 105 victims from this and other North Wales institutions

It sparked a chain of events that led to a huge taxpayer-funded libel payout for the Tory peer and the resignation of director general George Entwistle after just 54 days in the job.

Operation Pallial involves 27 police officers and staff from all over the country, backed by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

In just a month 105 victims now living in the UK and Ireland across 22 force areas outside north Wales have called them to say they were abused.

Theresa May

Lord McAlpine

Revelations: Theresa May launched Operation Pallial after a BBC investigation, which also wrongly accused Lord McAlpine (right) of being a paedophile and led the corporation's worst-ever crisis

Detective Superintendent Ian Mulcahey, from Merseyside Police, senior investigating officer for the inquiry, said: 'Operation Pallial is investigating new allegations of historic child abuse, some from victims previously known about and some from victims who have come forward for the first time.

'All victims of abuse have a right to expect all allegations of abuse, no matter how much time has passed, to be investigated professionally and appropriately. We will do so.

'Equally importantly, if offenders are still alive, they must be identified, investigated and brought to justice, with those who still have access to children being prioritised.'

Victims have revealed the horror inside the Bryn Estyn where gang rape, strip searches and vicious canings were a way of life – and padeophile DJ Jimmy Savile was a regular visitor.

Steve Messham

Keith Gregory

Victims: Former Bryn Estyn residents Steve Messham (left) and Keith Gregory (right) were two of many sexually abused and humiliated there

Keith Gregory claimed young boys used to lie in their beds and pretend to be asleep to avoid being taken to a flat and abused by staff and visitors – those that were taken came back sobbing.

He knew of children being driven off to a hotel where they would be gang raped and said he was beaten bloody and subjected to humiliating strip searches.

Theresa May announced the National Crime Agency would examine the issue after lawyers involved in the original inquiry into abuse at Bryn Estyn and other homes across North Wales in the 1970s and 80s said allegations about a wider paedophile ring had not been fully investigated at the time.

The Home Secretary said that the conclusions of the Waterhouse Inquiry in 2000 will be looked at again, but alleged victim Steve Messham who spoke out last month: 'There's no point in having an inquiry into the inquiry.'

Mrs May used a statement to the Commons in November to announce the review, which will not be complete until next April next year.

'The Government is treating these allegations with the utmost seriousness,' she told MPs.

'Child abuse is a hateful, abhorrent and disgusting crime and we must not allow these allegations to go unanswered.'