November 11, 2013


GORDON ANGLESEA, the former North Wales Police superintendent, is an enigma.

On the one hand he won a famous libel action which saw some of the country’s biggest media companies pay£375,000 in damages for falsely accusing him of sexually abusing young boys.

On the other, he was an important character in the events which led up to the decision to set up the north Wales Child Abuse Tribunal in 1996.

He was a senior police officer and a freemason in a situation where critics were alleging that the police were covering up child abuse, some of which was laid at the door of freemasons.

The Tribunal could find no evidence that would have persuaded the libel trial jury to change its mind.

But its three members expressed “considerable disquiet” about some of the evidence Anglesea gave when he appeared before them.

And now a Rebecca Television investigation reveals that the judge in his libel action also shares that “considerable disquiet”.

GORDON ANGLESEA The North Wales Police superintendent won a major libel case against journalists who accused him of abusing young boys at the Bryn Estyn children's home outside Wrexham.  Photo: Rebecca Television

The North Wales Police superintendent won a major libel case against journalists who accused him of abusing young boys at the Bryn Estyn children’s home outside Wrexham.
Photo: Rebecca Television

WHEN RETIRED police superintendent Gordon Anglesea walked into Court 13 of the Royal Courts of Justice in November 1994 he was entering one of the most dramatic rooms in British justice.

This is the cockpit where some of the country’s most celebrated libel trials have been played out.

They include the Jonathan Aitken and Jeffrey Archer cases.

The 57-year-old Anglesea was in Court 13 because he had sued two national newspapers, The Observer and the Independent on Sunday, the magazine Private Eye and HTV, the holder of the ITV franchise in Wales.

His legal costs were underwritten by the Police Federation.

Anglesea claimed the four defendants had accused him of being a child abuser during visits he made to the Bryn Estyn children’s home just outside Wrexham.

The judge, Sir Maurice Drake, was a veteran of many libel actions.

Like Gordon Anglesea, he was a freemason, but he declared that they were members of the same organisation at the start of the trial.

He retired in 1995, the year after the trial.

He told Rebecca Television about his memories of the case.

“For about five years as the Judge in charge of the civil jury list,” he said, “I tried a very, very large number of defamation cases. Many of them did not make any lasting impression on me; but others did and none more so than that of Supt Anglesea.”

Sir Maurice Drake, the judge in Anglesea’s dramatic libel action, unusually answered questions about the case when Rebecca Television wrote to him. Photo: © Photoshop

Sir Maurice Drake, the judge in Anglesea’s dramatic libel action, unusually answered questions about the case when Rebecca Television wrote to him.
Photo: © Photoshop

Appearing before Sir Maurice was Gareth Williams, the Welsh QC representing Anglesea.

Williams was ennobled by Neil Kinnock as Lord Williams of Mostyn, and later became Attorney General.

He was to die suddenly in 2003 when he was Leader of the House of Lords.

The QC acting for Private Eye, The Observer and the Independent On Sunday was Britain’s best known libel barrister, George Carman.

He died in 2001.

It had all started three years earlier.

In December 1991 — eight months after Anglesea retired from the North Wales Police — the Independent On Sunday wrote about the police investigation into allegations of child abuse at the Bryn Estyn children’s home in North Wales.

The front page article stated:

“According to former residents of Bryn Estyn, Gordon Anglesea, a former senior North Wales police officer, was a regular visitor there.”

“He recently retired suddenly without explanation.”

One of the authors of the article, Dean Nelson, later claimed that this reference was not intended to imply that Anglesea was involved in child abuse.

Anglesea immediately went to his solicitor who wrote to the paper demanding an apology with damages.

The Independent On Sunday refused.

As a result of this article, the North Wales Police decided to investigate Gordon Anglesea as part of its broad-ranging inquiry into child abuse in North Wales headed by Superintendent Peter Ackerley.

The journalist Dean Nelson was sent back to North Wales to see if there were any witnesses who would testify against Anglesea.

Next into the frame was The Observer.

In September 1992 the paper stated:

“A former police chief has been named as a prime suspect in the North Wales sexual abuse scandal, police sources in the region confirmed last night…”

“The ex-police chief is due to be questioned this week as evidence emerges that staff in some children’s homes ‘lent’ children to convicted paedophiles for week-ends.”

When the North Wales child abuse inquiry investigated the latter claim, in the late 1990s, it concluded there was no evidence of children being farmed out to abusers.

The Observer did not name Anglesea but it was clear from the context that the reference could only refer to him.

The paper made similar comments in subsequent editions.

By this time Dean Nelson had found two former Bryn Estyn children who were prepared to testify they had been abused by the police officer.

BRYN ESTYN This building just outside Wrexham used to be the Bryn Estyn children’s home. Gordon Anglesea was accused of abusing children at the home. Photo: Barry Davies

This building just outside Wrexham used to be the Bryn Estyn children’s home where Gordon Anglesea was accused of abusing residents. Bryn Estyn closed in 1984.
Photo: Barry Davies / Rebecca Television

In September 1992 the HTV programme Wales This Week broadcast interviews with the two men, one identified, the other unnamed and filmed in silhouette.

The programme was watched by another former Bryn Estyn resident.

He told a BBC researcher that Anglesea had abused him and later agreed to give evidence against the former superintendent.

Finally, Private Eye entered the fray in January 1993 with an article based on research from the freelance journalist Brian Johnson-Thomas.

This article claimed Anglesea had investigated allegations against the son of the North Wales politician Lord Kenyon.

Lord Kenyon was a magistrate, a member of the North Wales Police Authority and the Grand Master of the North Wales Province of freemasonry.

Anglesea was also a freemason.

The allegations were made by one of the three men who claimed Anglesea had abused them.

The Waterhouse Tribunal also investigated this issue — and said it could find no evidence that Anglesea had ever been involved in the investigation of the allegation.

In 1993 or 1994 Superintendent Peter Ackerley, the officer heading the police investigation into child abuse at Bryn Estyn and other children’s homes across North Wales, sent a report about Anglesea to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Ackerley recommended prosecution on the grounds that there was more than one witness claiming Anglesea had abused them.

His decision was to remain secret for many years.

The CPS decided not to charge the retired superintendent.


WHEN SIR Maurice Drake started proceedings in Court 13 on 14 November 1994, neither he nor the defendants were aware police had recommended that Anglesea be prosecuted.

Anglesea was the plaintiff, the defendants were the four media organisations who pleaded justification, that is that their reports were true.

Libel actions are unusual.

Normally whoever brings a case – the state in criminal prosecutions or the plaintiff in civil actions – has to prove their case.

The burden of proof does not lie with the defendants.

In libel it’s the other way round — all the plaintiff, in this case Anglesea, has to do is to prove that his reputation has suffered as a result of the coverage.

He does not have to prove his innocence.

Since the defendants pleaded justification, they had to prove that he was guilty of sexually assaulting young boys.

Gordon Anglesea gave his evidence at the start of the case.

He was easily able to demonstrate the damage that had been done to his life and reputation by the accusations of being a child abuser.

His wife Sandra also gave evidence.

She said that up to the media reports she and her husband had enjoyed a normal sex life.

At the time when the sexual assaults were alleged to have taken place their sex life was normal.

The defendants brought the three men who claimed they’d been abused by Anglesea into the witness-box.

One of them was a resident of Bryn Estyn in 1980 and 1981.

He claimed to have been indecently assaulted by Anglesea on one occasion and then buggered by him on another.

He also claimed to have been assaulted frequently by Peter Howarth who, he said, knew Anglesea well.

(Howarth had been the home’s deputy principal.

Five months before Anglesea’s libel action started, he was gaoled for ten years for abusing boys at Bryn Estyn.)

Lord Williams was able to do considerable damage to the credibility of this witness by pointing out inconsistencies between several of his statements and variations in his accounts of the assaults.

Another witness was a resident of Bryn Estyn in the late 1970s.

He said he had anal and oral sex with Anglesea on several occasions.

He also claimed to have been buggered by Howarth between a dozen and two dozen times.

He too insisted that Anglesea and Howarth knew one another.

This witness was allowed to take tranquillisers while he was giving evidence and the jury were informed.

However, he collapsed in the dock and proceedings had to be halted for him to be given medical treatment.

Lord Williams was able to undermine his testimony by highlighting inconsistencies, including an early denial in a police interview that he had been abused by Anglesea.

He also made much of the fact that he had been paid £4,500 by Private Eye in settlement of an alleged libel before he would agree to testify against Anglesea.

LORD WILLIAMS, QC Lord Williams of Mostyn, Anglesea’s barrister, was able to undermine the credibility of the witnesses against his client.  Photo: © Photoshop

Lord Williams of Mostyn, Anglesea’s barrister, was able to undermine the credibility of the witnesses against his client.
Photo: © Photoshop

The final witness was a resident at Bryn Estyn in 1981 and 1982.

He claimed that he had caddied for Howarth about half a dozen times and had been introduced to Anglesea.

He alleged that Howarth and Anglesea played with his private parts while he was in Howarth’s flat at Bryn Estyn.

Lord Williams pointed out that he did not name Anglesea in his police statements.

He also made much of the fact that the witness had a serious drink and drug problem.

Lord Williams challenged all three witnesses to admit that they had fabricated their accounts.

All three insisted they were telling the truth.

The judge in the trial, Sir Maurice Drake, has told Rebecca Television about his memories of what happened during the fifteen days of hearings.

He started by saying “the trial took place many years ago and without refreshing my memory with the full transcript of evidence I am cautious about making comments about the case.”

But he added:

“One thing which I still have a very clear recollection of is the splendid advocacy of George Carman for the defence and Lord Williams of Mostyn for the plaintiff.”

“Although George Carman displayed all his usual skills with the jury he was, on this occasion, outshone by Gareth Williams.”

“Without Lord Williams’ advocacy I think it very possible indeed that the jury would have found for the defendants — and meeting both of them socially I told each of them that view.”


ALTHOUGH LORD Williams had damaged the defendants’ witnesses this was not fatal.

Anyone who had been abused as a child and who never received a proper education was likely to be a witness with many difficulties.

Unless clear-cut forensic evidence is available, an allegation of child abuse is normally a closed issue and only the accuser and the accused can know what the truth is.

This means that other circumstantial evidence, which can be tested, becomes important.

In Anglesea’s action, there were two categories of these.

The first was the number of times he’d been to Bryn Estyn, the children’s home near Wrexham where the abuse is alleged to have taken place.

The second was whether he knew Peter Howarth, the deputy principal of Bryn Estyn, who had been convicted of child abuse at the home five months before the libel action began.

The defendants’ case was that Anglesea had been at the home on more occasions than he admitted to and that he was on friendly terms with Peter Howarth.

PETER HOWARTH Peter Howarth, the deputy principal of Bryn Estyn, was convicted of abusing children at the home five months before the libel action began. He was given a ten year gaol sentence for abusing seven Bryn Estyn boys over a ten year period. Photo: Press Association

Peter Howarth, the deputy principal of Bryn Estyn, was convicted of abusing children at the home five months before the libel action began. He was given a ten-year gaol sentence for abusing seven Bryn Estyn boys over a decade. He died in prison.
Photo: Press Association

Anglesea insisted he did not know Howarth and that the number of visits he listed were the only occasions he’d been to the home.

Anglesea was a uniform police inspector in Wrexham and came into contact with Bryn Estyn boys in 1979 when he was appointed to run the Wrexham Attendance Centre.

This was a Home Office initiative where magistrates could sentence boys to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday.

Then in 1980 he took over the area which included Bryn Estyn.

He was still in charge when Bryn Estyn closed in 1984.

When he was contacted by the Independent on Sunday journalist Dean Nelson, Anglesea said he had only ever been to Bryn Estyn twice for Christmas dinners.

When his solicitors wrote to the newspaper a few days later, they said that he’d been to the home on one other occasion, making three in all.

By the time he was interviewed by police in January 1992, a month after the Independent on Sunday article, the number of visits had grown to four.

As well as the two Christmas dinners and one in connection with the non-attendance at the Wrexham Attendance Centre of a boy from the home, he now remembered another.

“I can only recall visiting Bryn Estyn to caution a boy on one occasion at the request of the principal because of staffing difficulties.”

“Normally boys would attend at the police station and cautioning duties were shared with other Inspectors.”

By the time he submitted his Proof of Evidence for the libel action, in March 1994, he had been allowed to inspect his pocket books.

These dated from September 1980 — earlier ones had been destroyed in line with force policy.

He said: “I do not recall having any contact at all with Bryn Estyn before September 1980 and indeed I can think of no reason why I should have done so.”

He said his pocketbooks showed that he had given seven cautions at Bryn Estyn.

In addition, he said he had also visited the home on two other occasions on official police business.

He was always in uniform and he had never gone upstairs where Howarth’s flat was located.

With the two Christmas dinners, when he was not in uniform, that made a total of 11 visits to Bryn Estyn.

However, defence lawyers noticed that from March 1983 to February 1984 Anglesea’s notebook entries became brief with little detail beyond the times he was on duty.

Anglesea later explained this by saying it was caused by grief at the death of his four-year-old daughter in May 1983 which resulted in “a departure from my normally meticulous record-keeping.”


THE SECOND area of circumstantial evidence was whether he had known Peter Howarth, the deputy principal of Bryn Estyn.

One of the men who claimed he had been abused by Anglesea, gave evidence that Howarth had introduced him to Anglesea on a golf course in Wrexham.

In July 1994, five months before the libel trial started, Howarth was sentenced to 10 years in gaol at Chester Crown Court.

He was found guilty of one count of buggery and seven offences of indecent assault on seven Bryn Estyn boys between 1974 and 1984.

One of these boys, Simon Birley, hanged himself from a tree in May the following year.

Howarth was to die in prison of a heart attack in April 1997.

In his Proof of Evidence for the libel action Anglesea was categorical about his knowledge of Howarth.

“He was not personally known to me. I have never played golf with him.”

“Indeed I last played golf in about 1968 when I disposed of my clubs.”

“I may have spoken to him on the telephone relating to the Attendance Centre.”

“If I ever met him, it has not registered, and I cannot recall him in any way.”

The defendants called two witnesses about this issue.

The first was Joyce Bailey, a part-time house-mother at Bryn Estyn between 1981 and 1984, and the wife of a police constable who had served in Wrexham.

She said Anglesea was a regular visitor to the home in an official capacity.

She remembered seeing him in casual clothes only once when he arrived in his own car.

He got out, took some golf clubs from the back of the car and gave them to Howarth.

The second was Michael Bradley, a senior probation officer, who had spent three months at Bryn Estyn in the late summer of 1980 while on a course.

He was the ex-husband of an executive at HTV who was not involved in the libel action.

He gave evidence that he was at the home one night around nine in the evening when he saw Howarth and Anglesea enter the building.

Howarth introduced him to Anglesea as a good friend of Bryn Estyn and the two men then climbed the stairs.

He said that he did not know Anglesea but recognised him when he saw pictures of him in the early 1990s.

But there is one witness who did not give evidence.

He was Ian Kelman, a retired police inspector who served in Wrexham at the same time as Anglesea.

In a signed statement, a copy of which Rebecca Television has obtained, he said that between 1975 and 1980 he was a detective sergeant at Wrexham and regularly visited Bryn Estyn in the course of his duties.

He says he saw Anglesea on at least two occasions, once in a corridor when Kelman was interviewing one of the boys.

This was during a period for most of which Anglesea claimed he’d never been anywhere near Bryn Estyn.

Kelman remembered the first incident well:

“A member of staff opened the door into the room where I was and I saw Gordon with him in the corridor.”

“It did not strike me as unusual. I got the feeling that the man was looking for somewhere to talk to him.”

“I didn’t speak to Gordon. He was in uniform.”

“The other time I saw him was in the car park outside the home.”

“He was either getting in or out of a car. It was as I was leaving.”

“At this time Gordon was a town Inspector.”

Kelman also says that Anglesea must have known Howarth:

“Any police officer who had contact with Bryn Estyn would know him.”

“Howarth always seemed to be around.”

“Any police officer going there would be there for a reason. You couldn’t just walk into the home.”

“A senior member of staff would want to know the reason for your being there.”

“More often than not, that senior member of staff would be Peter Howarth.”

But Kelman did not give evidence.

Rebecca Television spoke to him and he said he “was suffering from severe mental depression at the time.”

So his statement was never subjected to cross-examination at the libel trial.

Kelman was not invited to appear as a witness at the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal and so his evidence was not tested there either.


THE DEFENDANTS also tried to undermine Anglesea’s credibility about the reason for his sudden decision to resign early in 1991.

In his Proof of Evidence he stated that he retired in April 1991 even though he could have gone on his full pension much earlier.

“I eventually retired after 34.5 years.”

“I had been diagnosed as a diabetic and had lost the sight in one eye. I therefore decided to take my pension.”

During cross-examination George Carman QC asked him if he had been interviewed by the then Chief Constable David Owen on 13 March 1991.

“No, sir,” replied Anglesea.

Carman asked if he’d gone to the chief’s office that day and Anglesea again said “No, sir.”

“Well,” said Carman, “I am suggesting to you that on the 13th March 1991 you were interviewed by the chief constable about your travelling expenses.”

“No, sir,” replied Anglesea.

Carman then asked if he had been interviewed by anyone else.

“Well, yes, by the assistant chief constable.”

It then emerged that he was told he would have to be suspended while an investigation took place into his expenses.

GEORGE CARMAN, QC George Carman, who represented the London media in the case, was the most famous libel barrister of his day. He cross-examined Gordon Anglesea. Photo: © Photoshop

George Carman, who represented the London media in the case, was the most famous libel barrister of his day. He cross-examined Gordon Anglesea.
Photo: © Photoshop

Anglesea claimed the amount involved was trivial and that he decided to resign immediately rather than be suspended in a manner which he felt was unjust.

In his final address to the jury Carman said:

“Well that took a long time to come out, didn’t it?”

“That’s hiding it, trying to avoid it, that shows he’s not quite the frank man he would have you believe.”

In his summing up, Sir Maurice Drake told the jury about the difference between libel actions and criminal cases.

In criminal cases, a jury has to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt before a guilty verdict can be reached.

In a libel action, the verdict is based on the balance of probabilities.

However, he added that the balance of the scales depended on the gravity of the alleged libel.

“The more serious the charge, the further down the scales have to go.”

“So in this case, where the charge against Gordon Anglesea is just about as serious as you could consider, the evidence required to prove the Defendants’ case must be that much stronger.”

After nine hours of deliberations, the jury found for Anglesea by 10 votes to 2.

Looking back on the case, Sir Maurice told Rebecca Television:

“In my view the evidence was very finely balanced.”

“My summing up was, I believe, absolutely free of any indication of what I felt the verdict should be.”

“I would not have been surprised if the jury had found for the defendants.”

“I believe that it was the evidence of Mrs Anglesea which tipped the scales in favour of the plaintiff.”

“Many jurors would find it difficult to believe that a married man could have a full sexual relationship with his wife at the same time as he was committing buggery …”

The jury never got to decide what the damages should be.

The two sides agreed that Anglesea should receive £375,000 in damages together with his costs.

The Independent on Sunday and HTV each agreed to pay £107,500 in damages.

Private Eye and The Observer each agreed to pay £80,000.

The final bill for the four defendants, including legal bills, would have been somewhere between £3-4m.

In February 1995 one of the three witnesses in the case was found dead.

He had hanged himself from the banisters outside his bed-sit in Wrexham.

Later, Gordon Anglesea was also to sue the magazine Take A Break  and the magazine Scallywag, edited by the journalist Simon Regan.

The cases were settled in his favour for undisclosed damages.

Anglesea’s libel victory was one of the most successful actions ever brought by a former police officer.


BUT THE ordeal of the retired superintendent was far from over.

Two years after the libel action, the Secretary of State for Wales, William Hague, decided that there would be a full-scale inquiry into the extent of child abuse in North Wales.

Once again the limelight was to fall on Gordon Anglesea.

By the time he gave evidence before it, the Tribunal team had acquired statements from a further two witnesses who claimed they’d been abused by Anglesea.

However, the Tribunal decided that they were not credible witnesses in that they had been at Bryn Estyn before Anglesea had any known connection with the home.

The Tribunal also obtained records from Bryn Estyn.

These showed that Anglesea’s first visit took place in 1979, not 1980 as he had originally stated in his Proof of Evidence for the libel trial.

The records also revealed that he had visited the home on more occasions than he had told the libel trial.

Instead of the 11 he claimed, there were, in fact, 15.

Anglesea gave evidence at the Tribunal in January 1997.

He was asked why he had claimed in the period just after the Independent on Sunday article that he had visited Bryn Estyn on just a couple of occasions.

He told the Tribunal that he had assumed the newspaper’s reporter Dean Nelson was asking about the Wrexham Attendance Centre.

Nicholas Booth, who represented one of the men who’d accused him of abusing him, asked him to examine his own transcript of his conversation with the paper’s Dean Nelson.

Booth then asked him:

“Mr Nelson didn’t raise the attendance centre at all, did he?”

“He simply asked you whether you were a visitor to Bryn Estyn School in Wrexham, that’s right, isn’t it? … you were the person, the only person who brings in the words ‘attendance centre’.”

“That was what I recorded from the telephone conversation,” replied Anglesea.

He also explained why he started to give cautions, a formal procedure where a police officer issues a warning instead of prosecuting, at Bryn Estyn in 1982.

“It was as a result of a conversation with the principal [Matt Arnold] who was having staffing difficulties … because it meant he would have to send a member of staff to the police station for a boy to be cautioned … and he requested could we caution at Bryn Estyn.”

In the statement he gave the defendants in the libel action in May 1994 the former retired police inspector Ian Kelman stated:

“In 1980 I was promoted to Inspector. As part of my duties, I would administer cautions.”

“Virtually always, these cautions would be conducted at the Police Station.”

“I must have given in excess of 1,000 cautions up until my retirement, and I can count on one hand the number of times it was necessary to give cautions anywhere else but in the Police Station.”

“In terms of police practice, it is most unusual to give cautions outside a police station.”

“Children residing in community homes would also be usually be cautioned at a police station.”

Kelman’s evidence has never been tested, either in the libel action or the Tribunal.

Another aspect of Gordon Anglesea’s policy of giving cautions at children’s homes was not explored at the Tribunal.

Anglesea also gave cautions at the private Bryn Alyn home owned by John Allen.

Allen was gaoled in 1995 for six years for indecently assaulting boys at the home.

(See Silent Witness for the story of Bryn Alyn.)

Anglesea told the Tribunal that no-one at Bryn Alyn asked him to do so — he simply extended the system of cautioning that had been introduced at Bryn Estyn.

Anglesea’s pocket-books say he visited Bryn Alyn on five separate occasions.

When he was giving his evidence no-one asked him if any of the four visits that took place before the first caution at Bryn Estyn was a caution.

If any of these visits had been a caution, then Anglesea had been giving cautions at Bryn Alyn before Matt Arnold at Bryn Estyn asked him to.

When it came to Anglesea’s insistence that he didn’t remember Peter Howarth, the deputy head convicted of child abuse, the Tribunal uncovered a letter written to Gordon Anglesea by the Principal of Bryn Estyn Matt Arnold in March 1980.

Arnold, a lapsed freemason, had gone back to work after an illness that had started the previous summer.

“I received a letter today from the assistant director of Social Services,” wrote Arnold, “regarding the late attendance of boys at the attendance centre.”

“I have only just returned from a period of sick leave, so I’m unaware on a personal basis of all the discussions that have gone on between you and Mr Howarth.”

The Tribunal heard evidence from four former members of staff who supported Anglesea’s testimony but its report doesn’t give any details.

The Tribunal also heard evidence from “seven other witnesses, including four members of staff who spoke of seeing Anglesea at Bryn Estyn, and most of them spoke of seeing him there in the presence of Howarth.”

Anglesea said all these witnesses were mistaken.

Anglesea was also cross-examined about his golfing activities.

In his Proof of Evidence for the libel action in 1994 he said that he last played golf in “1968 when I disposed of my clubs.”

But when he had been interviewed by police in December 1992 he was asked if he remembered when he disposed of the clubs.

“I remember it well, really I don’t know who I disposed of it to, because it was very shortly after I got married, just couldn’t afford it, we had four children to look after, five, six to look after.”

Anglesea had divorced his first wife and married his second in 1976.

By the time he prepared his Proof of Evidence for the libel case his recollection was different.

“I have had some difficulty in recollecting this.”

“I originally thought that I brought them with me when I left the matrimonial home.”

“In fact they were left in the matrimonial home and I didn’t see them after that occasion.”

This was the version of events he stuck with at the Tribunal.

He insisted that witnesses who had seen him at Bryn Estyn with Howarth handling golf clubs weren’t telling the truth.

Gerard Elias, QC, the counsel for the Tribunal asked him:

“So those witnesses must, must they not, be lying about you?”

Anglesea replied:

“The witnesses are lying about me, sir.”

He also said that some of the evidence of Roger Owen Griffiths, the owner of a residential school called Gatewen Hall which Anglesea visited some half-dozen times between 1977 and 1983, was also wrong.

Griffiths told the Tribunal that the visits usually took place in the evening.

Anglesea said “That is incorrect.”

Griffiths said Anglesea would sometimes have a glass of sherry or whisky with him, adding:

“I never thought there was anything untoward about his visits since I was pleased that an eminent police officer was visiting us at the school.”

“Totally and utterly untrue,” Anglesea told the Tribunal.

At one point during his evidence, Anglesea told the chairman, Sir Ronald Waterhouse:

“My memory isn’t good, it hasn’t been good since about 1991.”

In February 2000 the report of the Tribunal was published.

It stated:

“We are unable to find that the allegations of sexual abuse made against Gordon Anglesea have been proved to our satisfaction or that the trial jury in the libel action would have been likely to have reached a different conclusion if they had heard the fuller evidence that has been placed before us.”

However, the Tribunal noted:

“In the end we have been left with a feeling of considerable disquiet about Anglesea’s repeated denials of any recollection of Peter Howarth and the way in which his evidence of his own presence at Bryn Estyn has emerged.”

“We agree with the trial judge in the libel action, however, that such disquiet or even disbelief of this part of Anglesea’s evidence would not justify a finding that he has committed sexual abuse in the absence of reliable positive evidence.”

THE SECRET OF BRYN ESTYN The author Richard Webster believed that Gordon Anglesea and Peter Howarth were the victims of a media-orchestrated witch-hunt.

The author Richard Webster believed that Gordon Anglesea and Peter Howarth were the victims of a media-orchestrated witch-hunt.

One of Anglesea’s champions is the author Richard Webster, the author of The Secret of Bryn Estyn which claims that both Anglesea and Howarth were the innocent victims of an orchestrated witch-hunt.

Webster says that he talked to Howarth before he died and before he could give evidence to the Tribunal.

“When I interviewed Howarth in prison,” wrote Webster, “he recalled Anglesea very clearly and gave the impression that he had dealt with him on a number of occasions.”

“It would be quite wrong, however, to conclude from this aspect of Anglesea’s testimony that he was attempting to conceal some guilty secret.”

“It would be entirely natural for anyone in his position, in danger of being damned by association with a man who had been convicted of being a paedophile, to seek to minimise his contact with such a figure.”

Rebecca Television wrote to Gordon Anglesea and asked him to comment on the issues raised in this article.

He did not reply.

In October last year, we went to see the former police superintendent at his home in Colwyn Bay.

He said he had not answered the letter but had consulted his solicitors.

Rebecca Television  sent Sir Maurice Drake the sections of the Waterhouse Tribunal report which revealed Gordon Anglesea’s additional visits to Bryn Estyn and the new witnesses who claimed they’d seen him with Peter Howarth.

Sir Maurice wrote back to say:

“Because I think the evidence was so finely balanced it follows that I think it possible that the new information which came out at the Inquiry could have tipped the scales in favour of the Defence.”

“But because I think the jury were so impressed by the evidence of Mrs Anglesea I think it more likely than not that they would have still have found for the plaintiff.”

“As to Sir Ronald’s feelings of ‘considerable disquiet’ about Anglesea’s repeated denials of any recollection of Peter Howarth”, he added, “you ask me if I share that disquiet.”

“The answer is Yes.”


1  This article was published in April 2010 on the old Rebecca Television subscription site.

2  It’s part of the series of articles called The Case of the Flawed Tribunal.


© Rebecca Television 2013

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December 12, 2012

rebecca_6aTHERE WAS a time when governments would announce an official inquiry to kick a crisis into the long grass. After a decent interval the “crisis” would reappear with a brief media flurry around a report which could usually be safely ignored.

The last couple of years have seen a sea change in this age-old political expediency. The Leveson Inquiry, with its televised proceedings dominated by some of the biggest names in British political and cultural life, intensified the crisis over press ethics rather than defused it.

What transformed the phone hacking saga was the Guardian revelation in July 2011 that the News of the World had hacked into the mobile phone of the dead schoolgirl Milly Dowler back in 2002. Up to that single, shocking moment phone hacking had been essentially a media affair.

Then came the ITV Exposure programme in October 2012 which, instantly, shattered the reputation of Sir Jimmy Savile. What was so shocking about Savile, who died in October 2011, was that most of the population shared the view that he was an eccentric character whose lifetime’s charitable work more than made up for his strangeness.

When it was revealed that a planned BBC Newsnight item on child abuse allegations against Savile had been shelved in October 2011, all hell broke loose. The BBC denied the decision was influenced by scheduled tribute programmes to the dead disc jockey planned for the Christmas schedule —  but many were openly sceptical.

“Savilisation” was born — a fear of being accused of any kind of cover-up.


IN NOVEMBER last year, Newsnight broadcast the now notorious item in which abuse victim Stephen Messham was allowed to accuse an unnamed senior Conservative politician of sexually assaulting him while he was in care.

The social network site Twitter swiftly identified the politician as Lord McAlpine who responded to the false accusations by legally pursuing all-and-sundry.

David Cameron moved swiftly to dispel any whiff of cover-up — ever since the phone hacking scandal forced him to dismiss his communications chief and former News of the World editor Andy Coulson, the Prime Minister has been on the defensive in these situations.

Even after it was realised that Stephen Messham had made a mistake, Cameron remained committed to the North Wales inquiries.

These two inquiries have transformed the Rebecca Television (RTV) series The Case of the Flawed Tribunal. When the series was published last year, the response was zero.

Now the situation is reversed. In November, following a question from Paul Flynn in the Commons, the series became headline news on ITV in Wales. (It was largely ignored by BBC Wales but of that more later).

The RTV series will now feature in the two inquiries.

The first of these is a review of child abuse allegations in the 1970s and 1980s, headed by Keith Bristow, director general of the newly-created National Crime Agency. This will focus on allegations that may not have been properly investigated at the time.

The second, a review of the work of the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal, is to be carried out by High Court judge Mrs Justice Macur.

The question is — how deep will the two new inquiries go? In other words, as far as North Wales goes, has the “Savilisation” effect already worn off?

The  government will be sorry they launched these inquiries which, if they had waited just a few days, would never have taken place.

Will they, briefly, go through the motions and come to the conclusion that, after all, everything was done properly?

Hopefully not. Rebecca Television has written to Keith Bristow, the detective in charge of Operation Pallial, which is investigating if child abuse allegations were properly investigated in the 1970s and 1980s.

We’ve also written to Mrs Justice Macur, who’s job is to check that the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal did its job properly.

We want to make sure the Rebecca Television material is considered properly.

But the stakes are high. If Bristow and Macur conclude that there are grounds for a deeper investigation into what happened, the government is going to be faced with a difficult dilemma.

The obvious route is to order another Tribunal to investigate the first Tribunal. The first one cost £14 million — a new one will cost even more.

There’s a precedent, of course — Northern Ireland’s Bloody Sunday. The first Tribunal, under Lord Justice Widgery, was fatally tarred by accusations that it was an exercise designed to clear the SAS of charges that they had killed innocent civilians.

The second Tribunal, under Justice Saville, cost more than £200 million and concluded that the soldiers had, indeed, gunned down unarmed demonstrators.

The Rebecca Television series shows that there are plenty of questions to be answered. When Paul Flynn asked Theresa May if she would read this material, she assured him that police would be looking into these allegations.

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