Welsh children’s commissioner launches inquiry into alleged abuse

The children’s commissioner for Wales is
launching a major inquiry into the events surrounding the case of
an alleged paedophile.

Peter Clarke will for the first time use his
extensive powers to gather evidence into the case of a former drama
teacher, John Owen. Clarke will if necessary issue summonses to
anyone who refuses to co-operate.

Owen taught at a school in South Wales where
the sexual abuse was said to have taken place. He later went on to
become an award-winning television writer.

He was due to stand trial last year but
committed suicide before the court case went ahead (News, page 13,
13 December 2001). Following his death his alleged victims mounted
a campaign calling for an independent inquiry.

Peter Clarke has now launched the Clywch
Inquiry (Welsh for “listen”) that will investigate the events
surrounding the alleged abuse with the aim of learning lessons for
the future rather than establishing guilt.

The commissioner has asked for police files on
the case and will be able to call on Owen’s former colleagues
including teachers who still work at the school.

“I would especially welcome any
representations from people who were pupils of John Arwyn Owen,
fellow teachers and non-teaching staff, parents and carers, school
governors, inspectors and ex-colleagues as well as children who
have worked with him,” he said.

The inquiry will begin on 25 March at the
University of Glamorgan in Pontypridd. It will be held in public
although the commissioner may take evidence in private if he
considers it is necessary.

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