Eileen Fairweather writes at the Telegraph:
Seventeen years ago, a nervous-sounding woman rang and asked me to publicise a top-secret report. She was not the whistleblower, she explained, but a go-between. She would not give me her name: “It’s safer if you don’t know.”
That secret report revealed the extensive rape and savage beating of countless children in North Wales children’s homes. It was titled “Child Abuse: An independent investigation commissioned by Clwyd County Council, period 1974-1995”. Last week, John Jillings’s report on the Clwyd scandal was finally published. But Flintshire county council – successor to Clwyd – has heavily censored it. I dug out the original and discovered, unsurprisingly, that the cover-up continues.
The cloak-and-dagger way I obtained the redacted report speaks volumes about how those struggling to expose Britain’s child abuse rings were intimidated and derided. Few then believed children’s allegations that people in power, including politicians and senior police, were involved. I was myself incredulous when first asked in 1990 to investigate a social worker. Weren’t care professionals all kind?
It was a baptism by fire, as one investigation rapidly led to another, and I realised that paedophiles had comprehensively infiltrated Britain’s children’s homes since the 1970s.
Back in 1996, only a handful of local politicians and officials were allowed a copy of Jillings’s report. They were told – by police, insurers and the council – that they risked their careers, arrest and being personally sued if a word reached the media. The uncensored Jillings report includes these chilling threats.
Every report had a number, imprinted as a large watermark on every page. Any journalist who quoted it would supposedly be ordered by the courts to produce their copy or photocopy or face jail, and the watermark would expose their source.
My caller said apologetically I must write out the report by hand. I was also told to share it widely with other reporters. Journalists need exclusives, but the rationale was sound: “If all the media cover this, there won’t be a witch-hunt.”
I collected the report from a safe ‘drop’ point. It took me three exhausting days, holed up alone in a poky room in a B&B, to scribble out hundreds of pages. I fed to different newspapers and broadcasters different extracts suggested by my source. I only produced one article, and later a programme for HTV, under my name.
At least one paper and a news channel independently acquired the report: clearly, others whistle-blew. The coverage was widespread, and the whistleblowers’ drip-feed strategy worked: no one was arrested or sued.
Read more here.