Directors under fire from commissioner

    Two directors of education have been severely criticised in a
    report by children’s commissioner for Wales Peter Clarke for their
    authority’s failure to act against paedophile drama teacher John
    Owen.

    David Matthews, current director of education at Bridgend Council,
    conducted an initial investigation of Owen, a teacher at Ysgol
    Gyfun Rhydfelen comprehensive school, when he was an education
    officer at Mid Glamorgan Council in 1991.

    Peter Clarke claims Matthews failed to make a child protection
    referral despite having statements from several sixth form pupils
    alleging abuse, including rape and buggery. “It appears to me to
    amount to the criminal offence of misfeasance,” Clarke
    states.

    In a solicitor’s statement, Matthews said Clarke’s report was
    “riddled with inconsistencies and judgments based on opinions and
    not facts”.

    Clarke’s harshest criticism, however, is directed at Mid Glamorgan
    Council’s former director of education, Edwin Roberts, who he says
    obstructed a proper investigation and issued a misleading statement
    about the pupils’ complaints. Roberts let Owen resign and took no
    disciplinary action against him.

    Owen was allowed to go on working with children for the next 10
    years. He committed suicide before his case was due to come to
    trial in 2001.

    The Clywch Examination, set up to look at allegations of child
    sexual abuse in a school setting and to make recommendations to
    safeguard and promote the rights and welfare of children,
    recommends the establishment of four independent schools
    disciplinary tribunals for Wales and an assembly-funded independent
    children’s counselling service.

    – Full report from www.childcom.org.uk/clywch/index.html 

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