September 11, 2014


BAIL FOR the former North Wales Police superintendent Gordon Anglesea has been extended again.

Anglesea was the 18th person to be arrested as part of Operation Pallial  — the re-investigation of historical child abuse allegations in North Wales — in December last year.

When he answered bail today at an undisclosed police station he was re-bailed until January next year.

A spokesman for the National Crime Agency, which runs Operation Pallial, told Rebecca Television:

“enquiries are ongoing.”

GORDON ANGLESEA The former North Wales Police superintendent has had his bailed extended until September.  Picture: © Daily Mirror

THE RETIRED North Wales Police superintendent has had his bail extended until January.
Picture: © Daily Mirror



THE INVESTIGATION into the closed world of BBC Wales continues with a detailed analysis of the crisis that engulfed the Corporation between 2008 and 2011. The current regime, headed by Rhodri Talfan Davies, has taken the unprecedented step of announcing it will no longer answer questions from Rebecca Television 


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November 8, 2013


THE NORTH Wales Child Abuse Tribunal cleared freemasonry of any involvement in covering up child abuse.

But why did some fascinating information about the brotherhood never come to light?

 Why did the Tribunal’s own leading counsel not declare that he was a mason?

 And why was there no mention of a police lodge during the public hearings?

Rebecca Television investigates the claim that the North Wales Police was “a mason-free zone”.

THE NORTH WALES CHILD ABUSE TRIBUNAL There were three members of the Tribunal — Margaret Clough, chairman Sir Ronald Waterhouse and Morris le Fleming. The evidence suggests they did not come to grips with the role of freemasonry in the North Wales Police?  Photo: PA

There were three members of the Tribunal — Margaret Clough, chairman Sir Ronald Waterhouse and Morris le Fleming. The evidence suggests they did not come to grips with the role of freemasonry in the North Wales Police.     Photo: PA

THE WATERHOUSE Tribunal set the tone for its approach to freemasonry right from day one.

In the very first session the barrister for one of the groups of former residents of care homes made an application about masonry.

The barrister, Nick Booth, asked that “the Tribunal should keep a register of the masonic membership amongst its staff, the members, its representatives and witnesses who appear before it”.

He explained:

“The duty of loyalty to a brother mason and his duty of impartiality if he is involved in the administration of justice is not a new one and it’s one that’s very much in the public eye, particularly at the moment.”

“The Tribunal will be aware of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee which is investigating the issue,” he added.

“Sir, I stress, if I have not stressed it before, that I am not making any suggestion of disreputable conduct, merely to put the matter beyond the reach of any possible public comment which might undermine the public confidence in the Inquiry.”

The chairman of the Tribunal, Sir Ronald Waterhouse, and the two other members of the Tribunal, retired for a brief adjournment.

“It will not surprise you that the application is refused,” said Sir Ronald on their return.

“As far as the staff are concerned,” Sir Ronald said, “in so far as the application carries any reflection upon the integrity of the staff of the Tribunal it’s repudiated, wholly unwarranted; there is no evidence whatsoever to support any suggestion that they have not acted with complete integrity…”

“The members of the Tribunal are in this position: the Tribunal was set up by Parliament and the members of it were appointed by the Secretary of State for Wales and the [criticism of the composition] should be addressed through the proper channels.”

GERARD ELIAS QC The leading counsel to the Tribunal kept silent throughout the discussion about a register of freemasons. He himself is a freemason …

The leading counsel to the Tribunal was silent throughout a discussion about a register of freemasons. He himself is a freemason and a past master of one of the most powerful lodges in Wales …

He said that the Tribunal’s own Counsel, Gerard Elias QC, was appointed by the Attorney General.

“Any criticism … should be addressed through the usual Parliamentary channels,” he suggested.

Gerard Elias said nothing during Booth’s application and he remained silent after Sir Ronald had made the Tribunal’s ruling.

Yet both Sir Ronald and Gerard Elias knew something that journalists reporting the Tribunal would have wanted to know.

Gerard Elias is a mason.

He’s a member of perhaps the most powerful masonic lodge in Wales, Dinas Llandaf.

The lodge, which meets in Cardiff, is made up mainly of legal professionals and members of the Conservative party, although there are members from other political groups.

Another member of the lodge, Gwilym Jones, was the Tory MP for Cardiff North between 1983 and 1997.

He was minister of state at the Welsh Office when the Tribunal was set up.

Rebecca Television has a source who was close to the heart of the Tribunal.

This source says Sir Ronald was aware of Elias’ masonic membership.

Yet he too kept silent about the fact that the Tribunal’s own Counsel was a mason.

(What happened at the Tribunal was in contrast to proceedings at the beginning of Gordon Anglesea’s libel case in London less than three years earlier.

Gordon Anglesea was a retired North Wales Police superintendent who was falsely accused by journalists of abusing young boys at a children’s home in North Wales.

He won a libel action and accepted £375,000 in damages.

The judge was Sir Maurice Drake.

Drake told the court that he was a member of an organisation to which Gordon Anglesea also belonged.

He did not mention freemasonry but the legal teams on both sides knew which organisation he was referring to.

There were no objections and no one ever questioned the way he handled the case.)

Dinas Llandaf is one of the 174 lodges in the South Wales Province.

South Wales is one of the more open of the 47 provinces in England and Wales.

Every year it gives copies of its annual yearbook to libraries and to any journalist who asks for one.

The yearbooks list the officers of each lodge and the current issue — 2009-2010 — gives considerable detail about Dinas Llandaf.

For example, it shows all the officers of the lodge and those members who have reached the highest position – master of the lodge.

Gerard Elias is shown as having been master in 1994.

(See the article Brothers In Silk for more on the influence of Dinas Llandaf.)


THE NORTH WALES Province of freemasonry is a completely closed book.

It refuses to give out copies of its yearbook and these come into the public domain only occasionally.

In 1995 a copy came into the hands of journalist Mark Brittain who was Editor of the North Wales Weekly News at the time.

He quickly spotted a lodge called Custodes Pacis which was formed in 1983.

MARK BRITTAIN The editor of a local newspaper when a copy of the North Wales provincial yearbook came into his possession. He quickly spotted a police lodge ...

The editor of a local newspaper when a copy of the North Wales provincial yearbook came into his possession. He identified a police lodge but found the chief constable unwilling to admit it existed.  Photo: Rebecca Television

He was told many members of Custodes Pacis — it’s Latin for Keepers of the Peace — were serving or retired police officers.

Police lodges are not uncommon.

Perhaps the best known is London’s Manor of St James which at one point contained many senior officers of the Metropolitan Police.

In 1995 Brittain wrote to the recently appointed Chief Constable of North Wales, Michael Argent, and asked him for an interview.

In his letter, he also asked if the new chief was aware of the lodge.

Argent wrote back to agree to an interview but told the journalist he could find no evidence of a police lodge.

When Brittain met Argent he told him he had evidence of the lodge’s existence and, after the meeting, sent him the lodge entry from the 1995-96 yearbook.

Argent wrote back in April.

He now admitted that the lodge list “did indeed contain names known to me and my colleagues although in each case they were retired from the force — in some instances for quite a considerable period.”

Brittain wrote back to ask if he was sure that there were no serving officers.

In May 1995 Argent replied and said that further enquiries had been undertaken.

“I am reliably informed,” he wrote, “that whilst, as I have suggested to you in my earlier letter, it consists mainly of retired police officers — certainly up to superintendent level — there are only four currently serving officers.”

“Three are identified as constables and the fourth is either a constable or at most a sergeant.”

Brittain says Michael Argent’s story changed three times during this correspondence.

The man who was chief constable when Custodes Pacis was set up in 1983 was David Owen.

When he gave evidence to the Tribunal, he did not mention the existence of the lodge…

We wrote to David Owen to ask him why he didn’t tell the Tribunal about the lodge.

He rang back to say he didn’t want to answer questions.

In September 1997, during the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal hearings, Brittain wrote to the North Wales police authority, which is responsible for the non-policing aspects of the force.

The then clerk to the authority, Leon Gibson, wrote back to say that the information about the membership of Custodes Pacis had come from an unnamed lodge member.

Gibson added that if the Chief Constable “remembers correctly, there were five, one sergeant and four constables.”

Gibson was also the chief executive of Anglesey County Council at this time.

He declined to answer our email asking if he was a mason.


THE BARRISTER who represented North Wales Police at the Tribunal was Andrew Moran, QC.

In his opening address, he made it clear that the force felt masonry was an irrelevance.

He listed many of the senior policemen who had played a role in the child abuse investigations and said, “I am instructed to add, irrelevant though it should be, that none … is a Freemason.”

He added: “Where then, please, we ask is the masonic influence? Freemason[s] at the top of the North Wales Police? There are none … Mason-free zone, we would say.”

MORAN QC Declared North Wales Police "a mason-free zone" but didn't answer a Rebecca Television letter asking if he was a mason himself ...

Declared North Wales Police “a mason-free zone” but didn’t answer a letter asking if he was a mason himself …

In this opening address, he did an unusual thing.

He said none of these people “is” a freemason and did not add the usual rider “or has been” when dealing with masonic membership.

He therefore left open the question of whether any of these senior officers had ever been masons.

The Report of the Tribunal reported this statement with slightly different but highly significant wording:

“At the outset of the Inquiry Counsel for the North Wales Police stated, on the instructions of the Chief Constable, that none of the current or former senior officers from Assistant Chief Constable upwards during the period under review had been a freemason and that the same was true of the relevant Detective Chief Superintendents and Detective Superintendent Ackerley.”

(Ackerley was the Superintendent who headed the major child abuse police inquiry between 1991 and 1993.)

We wrote to Sir Ronald Waterhouse about how the word “is” had changed into “had been.”

He never answered the question.

During the public hearings of the Tribunal freemasonry was little discussed, as its report makes clear:

“Although this question was quite widely discussed in the press before the Tribunal’s hearings began very few questions were asked about it during our inquiry and most of them were put by the Chairman of the Tribunal to give appropriate witnesses an opportunity to affirm or deny any connection with freemasonry.”

Rebecca Television sent a list of all the male barristers who appeared before the Tribunal to the United Grand Lodge of England and asked how many of them were freemasons.

We also asked if the police assessor to the Tribunal, Sir Ronald Hadfield, and the retired police officers who made up the Tribunal’s witness interviewing team were masons.

A spokesman replied: “I’m afraid I am unable to give you the information you require.”

“We would only do so if you were an official body making that request.”

When the Tribunal reported in 2000, its verdict was clear:

“Freemasonry had no impact on any of the police investigations and was not relevant to any other issue arising from our terms of reference.”


THE MOST important known mason who appeared before the Tribunal was retired North Wales Police Superintendent Gordon Anglesea.

Anglesea had won a libel action against journalists who wrongly accused him of abusing children.

“Anglesea was questioned also about his connection with Freemasonry,” said the Tribunal Report, “because of an underlying suggestion that there had been a ‘cover-up’ in his case.”

“He disclosed that he had become a full member of Berwyn Lodge in Wrexham, in 1982, after being a probationer in a lodge at Colwyn Bay from about 1976.”

“He had then transferred to a new Wrexham lodge, Pegasus Lodge, in 1984 after a gap from April to September, because it offered an opportunity for swifter advance in freemasonry.”

The Tribunal Report then says he remained a member of the Pegasus Lodge despite a directive from the Chief Constable of the North Wales Police, David Owen, in September 1984.

This directive stated:

“We must be seen to be even-handed in the discharge of our office and my policy will be to say that if you have considered joining the Masons, think carefully about how that application might interfere with your primary duty.”

“To those who are Masons I would say that you should consider carefully how right it is to continue such membership.”

“In the open society in which we live that openness must be seen by all and must not be an openness partially [clouded] by a secrecy where people could question true motivation.”

During cross-examination of Anglesea at the Tribunal, Tim King QC, representing former residents of children’s homes, asked him if Owen’s directive had upset or concerned him.

“Not whatsoever, sir,” replied Anglesea, “I read that order two or three times and it did not — I felt it did not affect my particular position.”

GORDON ANGLESEA The North Wales police officer decided to ignore his chief constable's directive warning about freemasonry... Photo: Rebecca Television

The North Wales police officer decided to ignore his chief constable’s directive warning about freemasonry…
Photo: Rebecca Television

1984 was a watershed year for the public scrutiny of freemasonry.

That year saw the publication of Stephen Knight’s book The Brotherhood which followed other press investigations such the 1981 Rebecca magazine article Darkness Visible.

The same year Metropolitan Commissioner Sir Kenneth Newman and Albert Laugharne, an assistant commissioner, published The Principles of Policing which made it clear that membership of freemasonry left officers open to suspicion.

“Thus an officer must pay the most careful regard to the impression which others are likely to gain of his membership, as well as to what he actually does, however inhibiting he may find this when arranging his own private life.”

David Owen’s response to these developments was to call a conference of superintendents which decided to issue the directive.

Within a month of Owen circulating it, the Grand Master of North Wales Province of Freemasonry, Lord Kenyon, asked to meet with him.

The two men knew each other well: Kenyon was also a member of the police authority.

The meeting took place at Wrexham police station.

Lord Kenyon was accompanied by the secretary of the province, Leonard Ellis.

Solicitors acting for the masons wrote to the Tribunal in an attempt to get this narrative removed on the grounds that it was irrelevant to the Tribunal’s work.

The Tribunal rejected the attempt and its report described what happened when the Provincial Grand Master came face to face with the Chief Constable.

David Owen told the Grand Master that he had no intention of withdrawing his directive about freemasonry…

“At this meeting Lord Kenyon argued that the directive was totally misguided and asked that it should be withdrawn and he mentioned that a police officer (unidentified but not Anglesea) had been about to take the chair in a North Wales lodge but had declined to do so because of this directive.”

LORD KENYON  Tried to persuade the chief constable to withdraw his anti-masonic directive — and invited him to join the brotherhood.

The Provincial Grand Master tried to persuade the chief constable to withdraw his anti-masonic directive — and invited him to join the brotherhood.

“Owen’s evidence was that he told Lord Kenyon that he had no intention of withdrawing the directive.”

“In response, Lord Kenyon argued that the Chief Constable knew nothing at all about freemasonry and suggested it would be appropriate for him to join a lodge, such as the one at Denbigh, outside any area of his usual working activity, but this invitation was declined.”


DAVID OWEN wasn’t the first chief constable Lord Kenyon had dealt with.

Four years earlier the grand master welcomed Sir Walter Stansfield back to North Wales after he retired as Derbyshire’s chief constable and brought his police career to a close.

Sir Walter had been chief constable of the Denbigh force before the reorganisation which led to the creation of the North Wales Police.

He was deputy chief constable of North Wales in 1967 when he was appointed Derbyshire’s chief constable.

When he left North Wales to take up the Derbyshire post, he didn’t sever his links with North Wales.

He joined a new masonic lodge, Dyfrdwy, which met at Ruabon, becoming its master a year later, in 1968.

In 1981 Rebecca magazine asked Sir Walter Stansfield why he had chosen to join a North Wales lodge after he left North Wales Police.

Had he been a member of a lodge in another part of the country?

Sir Walter didn’t take kindly to being questioned on the subject.

He said:

“Who do you think you’re talking to?”

He then denied being Sir Walter Stansfield even though the telephone number he was speaking on was listed in his name.

SIR MAURICE STANSFIELD  A war hero, Sir Maurice was chief constable of the  Derbyshire force. He was also a freemason in North Wales. . He wouldn't answer questions about

A war hero, Sir Walter was chief constable of the Derbyshire force. He was also a freemason in North Wales. He wouldn’t answer questions about his freemasonry …

Sir Walter also makes a cameo appearance in Martin Short’s book about freemasonry, Inside The Brotherhood.

After Sir Walter left Derbyshire, the English force was rocked by the Alf Parrish scandal.

Parrish was appointed chief constable in 1981 but soon squandered police funds for his own comfort.

He was driven out of office by which time it was discovered that he was a mason — as were many of the police authority members who appointed him.

The key masons belonged to the oldest lodge in Derbyshire, Tryian.

A provincial yearbook obtained by Labour councillors in the mid-1980s revealed that another member of the lodge was Sir Walter Stansfield…

Back in 1981, North Wales Provincial Grand Master Lord Kenyon responded to increasing media attention, including Rebecca magazine coverage, by making a statement to masons in the province.

“… we have nothing to hide and certainly nothing to be ashamed of, but we object to having our affairs investigated by outsiders.”

“We would be able to answer many of the questions likely to be asked, if not all of them, but we have found that silence is the best policy: comment or correction only breeds further inquiry and leads to the publicity we try to avoid.”


THE NORTH WALES Child Abuse Tribunal report dismissed any suggestion that Lord Kenyon had tried to promote the career of Gordon Anglesea.

The Report concluded that “there is no evidence that Lord Kenyon intervened at any time in any way on behalf of Anglesea.”

The Tribunal did consider a comment made by Councillor Malcolm King, who was also a former chairman of the North Wales Police Authority, that “there was speculation (he believed) that Lord Kenyon had asked for promotion for Gordon Anglesea.”

“This was said by Councillor King to have been based on a conversation overheard at a police function; and that the speculation was that Lord Kenyon had advocated Anglesea’s promotion ‘for the purpose of covering up the fact that his son had been involved in child abuse activities’.”

This was alleged to have related to an incident in August 1979 when Lord Kenyon’s son, Tom, reported the theft of articles by a former Bryn Estyn resident while the two men were staying at a flat in Wrexham.

The young man he accused of theft was arrested and later given three months detention.

However, during the course of the investigation police discovered a series of indecent photographs in the flat which was owned by a man called Gary Cooke.

Cooke was later gaoled for five years on two counts of buggery, one of indecent assault and one of taking an indecent photograph.

Cooke claimed that, after he was arrested and charged, Tom Kenyon came over and apologised to him for what had happened and handed him a letter.

He added that if Cooke agreed “not to say anything” he would have a word with his father to improve Cooke’s chances in court.

Cooke says he gave this letter to the police.

The officers who dealt with the case say they received no such letter.

Cooke believed that Tom Kenyon’s intervention shortened his sentence.

However, when Superintendent Ackerley was carrying out his investigation into this case in the early 1990s, he discovered that the prosecution file could not be found.

The Tribunal’s investigators discovered that there was no evidence Cooke had been shown any favour: he served a full third of his sentence.

In any case, the Report added, Lord Kenyon had no influence with the parole board.

The Tribunal’s Report conclusion was damning:

“We have received no evidence whatsoever in support of this allegation and it appears to have been merely a malicious rumour.”

LOST IN CARE The massive 937 page report cleared the North Wales Police of any failures

The massive 937 page report of the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal described an anecdote about the Provincial Grand Master trying to get a promotion for Gordon Anglesea as a “malicious rumour”. Yet the Tribunal’s own staff had been to see the policeman who told them he was sitting next to the Grand Master when he made the comment.

Councillor King was actually combining two separate rumours here: the first that Lord Kenyon had spoken up for Anglesea at a police function, the second that it was somehow related to favours Anglesea was alleged to have done for his son.

The Tribunal should have known that the first rumour, that Lord Kenyon had spoken up for Anglesea, had substance.

The source of the anecdote was Harry Templeton, a former constable and once the secretary of the Police Federation branch in North Wales Police.

The reason the Tribunal should have known about it was that two members of its own Witness Interviewing Team, made up of retired police officers who were not from North Wales, went to talk to Templeton.

Templeton told them he had been to a function at the senior officers’ dining room at Police Headquarters in Colwyn Bay and was sitting opposite Lord Kenyon who was present as a magistrate member of the Police Authority.

Templeton told the Tribunal team that Lord Kenyon had said that he was surprised Gordon Anglesea, then a chief inspector, had not been promoted to Superintendent and that he would see to it that he was promoted before he retired.

Templeton told them he’d made a signed affidavit about the incident for a national newspaper.

Templeton also told the Tribunal team there was another witness to the remark, Peter Williams, the then chairman of the Police Federation branch.

Templeton never said anything about Lord Kenyon’s advocating a promotion for Gordon Anglesea having anything to do with Tom Kenyon’s case.

This suggestion, he says, must have come from somewhere else.

When Rebecca Television sent Templeton details of the Tribunal’s findings in relation to this anecdote, he was shocked.

He says that the two retired Tribunal detectives had not taken a signed statement from him and he now feels there is a question mark about what they did with the information he gave them.

We also spoke to Peter Williams.

He  said that the Tribunal never came to see him.

He confirmed that he was at the function with Harry Templeton in their official roles as Police Federation representatives.

He recalls that Lord Kenyon expressed his surprise that Gordon Anglesea had not been promoted.

He does not remember him saying that he would see that it took place before he retired.


1  This article was published on 21 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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June 24, 2013


IN 1997 journalists working for the HTV current affairs programme Wales This Week were given a stark warning by the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal.

If they broadcast newly discovered allegations of child abuse dating back nearly twenty years they risked being held in contempt of the Tribunal.

The broadcasters removed the allegations. But having gagged the media, the Tribunal didn’t go on to investigate the allegations.

The story of how the Tribunal suppressed an important piece of evidence has never been told.

THE NORTH WALES CHILD ABUSE TRIBUNAL Britain's only child abuse tribunal failed to hear the evidence of a key witness.

Britain’s only child abuse tribunal failed to hear the evidence of a key witness.

IT WAS a Monday morning in October 1997 at the studios of HTV on the outskirts of Cardiff.

The team at the channel’s current affairs programme Wales This Week were preparing the Thursday evening edition.

For Editor Clare Hudson and Director David Williams this was no ordinary programme.

It was the latest in a series of investigations into child abuse in North Wales.

A Tribunal was already hearing evidence about the extent of physical and sexual abuse in children’s homes in the area.

Wales This Week had played a substantial role in the events which led up to the setting up of the Inquiry.

Six years earlier a report on allegations of physical abuse at a home in Gwynedd, the north-west corner of Wales, had led to the county being included in the child abuse investigation which had already started in the north-eastern corner, the county of Clwyd.

A year later, in September 1992, Wales This Week broadcast the most explosive programme in its history.

It featured two witnesses who claimed that a policeman, retired Superintendent Gordon Anglesea, had sexually abused them while they were residents of the Bryn Estyn children’s home just outside Wrexham.

Anglesea was an inspector in Wrexham at the time the alleged offences were committed. He was also a member of a masonic lodge in the town.

The allegations, in varying degrees, were repeated by Private Eye, The Observer and the Independent on Sunday.

Anglesea sued all four companies for libel and a jury found for him in December 1994.

He accepted a total of £375,000 in damages and the case cost HTV nearly a million pounds when the legal costs of the 15 day trial were added.

GORDON ANGLESEA The retired police superintendent won a major libel case.

The retired police superintendent won a major libel case at the High Court in London in 1994.

Anglesea’s victory and vindication did little to stem the tide of rumour sweeping North Wales.

It was said that councils had covered up the extent of the abuse in their homes while police had failed to investigate allegations of child abuse properly.

The fact that two of the most important figures in children’s homes – Peter Howarth of Bryn Estyn and John Allen of the private Bryn Alyn complex – were already facing child abuse charges did nothing to stem the tide.

Even some members of the North Wales Police Authority, the civilian body that controlled the non-operational aspects of the force, were calling for an outside force to be brought in to handle the investigation.

There was also speculation that a child abuse ring was operating in the area and that it included Tory members of the British political establishment who were also freemasons.

According to conspiracy theorists, this ring was being protected by policemen who were also masons.


IT WAS against this feverish background that William Hague, the Secretary of State for Wales, decided in June 1996 to set up a tribunal to find out the truth.

He chose former High Court judge Sir Ronald Waterhouse to chair the Tribunal.

On the third day of the Tribunal’s opening session the barrister representing the North Wales Police, Andrew Moran QC, delivered his opening address.

He revealed that the major police inquiry carried out by Superintendent Peter Ackerley between 1991 and 1993 had investigated Gordon Anglesea.

He then delivered a bombshell.

“We can now demonstrate that Mr Anglesea, apparently at sometime a Freemason, was shown not an ounce of favour nor was any other officer or former officer. The proof of that is incontestable in the recommendation made by Supt Ackerley that there was sufficient evidence to prosecute.”

He added it was the Crown Prosecution Service, the body that decides if a case is strong enough to go to trial, which decided that the police officer should not be charged.

Moran added: “Despite the verdict in the libel trial in which the authors and publishers could not even discharge the burden of proving on a balance of probabilities that Anglesea was guilty, the recommendation was justified at the time and nails the lie of Masonic influence and favour.”

As part of the libel settlement with Anglesea, HTV and the other defendants had agreed they would never repeat the libels against him.

So it was difficult, if not impossible, for Wales This Week to return to the issue.

Instead, the team turned to a privately run children’s home called the Bryn Alyn Community which was close to the council-run Bryn Estyn home.

Most of the rumours concerned Bryn Estyn and Bryn Alyn stayed firmly in the background.

Bryn Alyn was owned by John Allen – a man with no social work training – and his family.

In February 1995 he was convicted of six offences of indecent assault against young male residents at the Community. He was gaoled for six years.

There were two disturbing aspects of his case.

JOHN ALLEN The owner of the Bryn Alyn complex of private homes went missing during his trial.

The owner of the Bryn Alyn complex of private homes went missing during his trial.

The first was he went “missing” for a week during his trial. He turned up in Oxford claiming to have had a breakdown and couldn’t remember anything about the seven days.

The second disturbing aspect is that during the period when he was missing, one of the former Bryn Alyn residents was found dead in his Brighton flat.

Lee Johns had given evidence against Allen at the trial and was one of the six former residents the jury were to decide had been abused by Allen.

The inquest verdict on Lee Johns was suicide. His family are convinced he did not take his own life.

Three years before he died, Lee had been badly injured at a catastrophic fire at a flat near Brighton in which five people died. One of those who died in the blaze was Lee’s younger bother Adrian who had also been in care at Bryn Alyn.

Both Lee and Adrian, after leaving Bryn Alyn, had stayed at properties which John Allen had helped to buy.

Wales This Week quickly discovered that, while the Bryn Alyn Community was a children’s home entirely funded by local authorities in England and Wales, it was actually a goldmine for John Allen.

Between 1974 and 1991 Bryn Alyn received more than thirty million pounds from councils for looking after problem children. A substantial slice of this money never went directly into looking after the children in the Community’s care.

More than half a million pounds went into a state of the art video studio in Wrexham and a large number of properties were bought including a villa in the south of France.

Allen bought a substantial country mansion for himself and paid £18,000 for a half-share in a yacht based in the Mediterranean called Dualité.

Allen was also using huge amounts of petty cash for his own purposes which were never properly recorded in the accounts.

He told the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal in 1997 that he estimated he’d spent £180,000 in presents for residents and former residents.

He said that Bryn Alyn ran an after-care system that included accommodation in Wrexham, London and Brighton as well as financial assistance for former residents.


AS PART of the investigation into the financial affairs of the Bryn Alyn Community Wales This Week also talked to Des Frost, the former social worker who became joint number two at Bryn Alyn and looked after the finances.

But Frost didn’t just know about the finances, he’d also heard stories about John Allen’s behaviour.

When he was interviewed on camera, Frost said that on one occasion John Allen came in one morning with a black eye.

He said it had happened the previous night when he was trying to get into the caravan where a boy was sleeping. Allen did not offer any explanation for his behaviour.

Frost did nothing. But, on another occasion, he said

“I was approached by a member of staff who told me briefly of some rumours that were going around the organisation. And I explained it would be better not to talk about it at Bryn Alyn.”

“So I went up to his house at a later stage. And he told me some pretty hairy stories about allegations of child abuse by John.”

“I can’t remember honestly what they were except one which I remember was a member of staff caught in, shall we say, a compromising position and John had a perfectly legitimate answer for that one – but that was a rumour amongst others that were going round.”

DES FROST When a member of staff told him that boys at Bryn Alyn were complaining that Alenn abusing them, Frost decided to go to the police.

When a member of staff told him that boys at Bryn Alyn were complaining that John Allen was abusing them, Frost decided to go to the police.

Frost says he was aware the boys in Bryn Alyn were “not necessarily pure and innocent” – they were “streetwise”. He did not personally believe that John Allen was abusing the children at Bryn Alyn.

“Nevertheless, I was concerned about these rumours but the question is – what do you do about it? Because – do you go to your boss and say ‘excuse me, are you assaulting these children?’ If he wasn’t – or, rather, if he was, he would have said ‘mind your own business”. And if he wasn’t, I would have been down the road without a job.”

Frost says he went to see a local magistrate who had connections with Bryn Alyn.

“I was somewhat anxious that he should be such a friend of John’s that it would get back to him. But fortunately he wasn’t that involved – and he already had his own suspicions about the stories that I told him.”

The two men agreed there was nothing to do but to stay in touch. But Frost remained concerned.

“I then decided to go to the police on behalf of myself and the rest of the staff because, it was a difficult situation, but I didn’t want it ever said that – why didn’t you do anything about it?”

He said he felt he couldn’t go to the police station in Wrexham because Bryn Alyn residents were often in trouble with the police.

He was afraid John Allen would find out he’d been there and that he wouldn’t have a credible explanation for the visit.

“So I phoned the CID in Chester where I lived and asked them to come to my house which they did. Two detectives arrived. I can’t give you their names because I can’t remember.”

He says he told them of the rumours that had been passed on to him.

“What I hoped was that they – in fact I think I asked them to – was to communicate what I’d said to Wrexham police because I explained, as I just said, that it would not have been circumspect for me to walk into Wrexham police station.”

After the interview Wales This Week asked Cheshire police if they had any records relating to this interview. Cheshire said all records would have been destroyed long before but, if the interview had taken place, the procedure was straightforward – Chester police would have produced a report and passed it to the North Wales Police.

Frost says he never heard anything back from the Chester detectives. But shortly afterwards the local policeman – PC Jim Jones based in the village of Llay – asked to see him.

“He came to my office when normally he wouldn’t have done that because I wasn’t on the care side.”

“And he had a letter from a boy, an ex-Bryn Alyn boy, from Newcastle who’d been arrested. They’d found a letter on this boy addressed to John asking for money. The policeman wanted to know if this was blackmail.”

Frost explained that he didn’t think it was blackmail because of the aftercare system John Allen provided boys when they left the home. This involved him sending some former residents money.

“So I said, no, I didn’t think it’s blackmail. When he got up to go he said a very strange thing, he said, ‘well, I suppose everything is alright because you and mister so and so work here’. And the other person he referred to was also a member of the senior management.”

He and Frost were lay preachers.

“I just wonder whether he was on a trawling expedition having been alerted by Chester police to come and see me and see if I had anything else to say.”

But Frost did not tell PC Jones about the allegations he said he’d gone to Chester detectives about. The visit of PC Jones gave him the opportunity to repeat those allegations in a legitimate meeting arranged by the policeman.

Frost, who didn’t want to be interviewed for this article, now says that he was concerned that the PC would tell his superiors and that John Allen would find out.

At the time of the Wales This Week interview, Frost told the programme-makers that the Tribunal – already more than half way through its public hearings – had not interviewed him and he had not been put on notice that he might be a witness.


So, on Monday 21 October 1997, the Wales This Week team began assembling the programme including the Frost allegations dating back to the early 1980s.

The journalists believed they had uncovered important new allegations that the Tribunal had missed.

That day, the Tribunal moved against the programme.

WALES THIS WEEK The current affairs programme had been at the heart of coverage of the North Wales abuse scandal.

The current affairs programme had been at the heart of coverage of the North Wales abuse scandal.

Press officer David Norbury rang to say the Tribunal was concerned that a number of people, including Frost, had been interviewed by Wales This Week.

The next day he rang again. Again he was concerned about the interview with Frost. Editor Clare Hudson made a note of the conversation: “I asked is Frost a witness, has he given a statement? DN [David Norbury] didn’t know.”

She then asked “what exactly is the nature of the concern? He said “in a nutshell, contempt of court.”

Norbury said Brian McHenry, the lawyer seconded from the Treasury in London to act as the tribunal’s solicitor, wanted to talk to the programme’s lawyer.

After the lawyers talked, it became clear that if the programme contained any new allegations the Tribunal would consider referring Wales This Week to the Attorney General for contempt of the Tribunal.

If the programme makers were found guilty then, theoretically, they could be sent to gaol.

The programme’s legal advice was clear – remove the allegations – and Clare Hudson felt she had no option but to do so.

But the team decided to make it clear that Wales This Week had the details of these allegations.

When the programme about John Allen went out on the evening of Thursday, October 24th the script was clear.

After stating that Des Frost was concerned about the rumours he was hearing, the commentary added:

“Finally, Des Frost, an evangelical preacher, became so concerned about John Allen’s behaviour that he went to the police.”

“The North Wales Tribunal investigating child abuse is concerned that there should be no public discussion of these events at the present time.”

Two and a half years later, the Tribunal issued its report known as the Waterhouse Report after the former High Court judge, Sir Ronald Waterhouse, who chaired it.

It effectively cleared North Wales Police of the charge that it had failed to investigate child abuse properly.

True, it criticised a 1986-88 inquiry carried out by the then head of the CID at North Wales Police, Gwynne Owen, as being “defective in many respects” and “sluggish and shallow”.

However, the Tribunal added that there was no evidence that, had it been pursued properly, the police would have been aware that it needed to investigate child abuse more deeply.

The Tribunal Report concluded “there was no significant omission by the North Wales Police in investigating the complaints of abuse to children in care”.

But there was one incident which the Tribunal concedes might have triggered a wider inquiry. The Tribunal’s report states:

“There was an occasion in 1981 or 1982 when John Allen’s sexual activities might have come to the attention of the police. Police officers in Durham had become aware that a former resident with the Bryn Alyn Community was receiving substantial cheques from Allen.”

LOST IN CARE The massive 937 page report cleared the North Wales Police of any failures

The massive 937 page report of the Tribunal cleared the North Wales Police of any failures.

“A police officer at Llay, near Wrexham, was asked to investigate the position and learnt from the Bryn Alyn accountant at that time that money was being paid to former residents.”

This police officer was PC Jim Jones.

“We heard the recollections of four witnesses about this matter but only one of them, Keith Allen Evans [the head of care at the time], claimed to have told the Llay police officer about rumours or banter in relation to residents who received gifts in return for “bending down” for Allen; and Evans himself did not believe what was being said about Allen.”

“The Llay police officer, on the other hand, said that there was no suggestion by the Durham police or by the Bryn Alyn staff of blackmail. The officer said that blackmail was not the subject of investigation and that he was not told of any rumour of sexual abuse by Allen.”

“In these circumstances,” the report concludes, “we cannot be satisfied that anything was said to the North Wales Police at that time to put them on notice of allegations of sexual misconduct by Allen.”

At the time the Llay police officer investigated the letter his superior officer was Inspector Gordon Anglesea, a fact that is not mentioned in the Tribunal Report.

When he gave evidence to the Tribunal, Anglesea was not asked if he knew anything about the visit to Bryn Alyn by PC Jones.

The accountant mentioned in the paragraphs from the Tribunal report about PC Jones’ visit is Des Frost.

And the events that are being discussed come, according to Frost, after he claims to have gone to the police in Chester with allegations of sexual abuse by Allen.

For this article Rebecca Television pressed Frost for more information that might help give the date more accurately.

Frost has always maintained that his visit to Chester was around the time of a suicide that happened not far from Bryn Alyn. A former resident called Robert Chapman had committed suicide by jumping from a railway bridge near Bryn Alyn.

Later a letter arrived for him and, because John Allen was away, Frost decided to open it. The letter had strong homosexual overtones. When John Allen returned and discovered that the letter had been opened he went, Frost recalls, “ballistic”.

We checked the date of the Robert Chapman suicide – it was in July 1978. This means that, if Frost’s recollection is correct, his interview with Cheshire police happened several years before Durham police alerted North Wales Police to the suspicious letter they had seized.


Frost also has an extraordinary story about the events that surrounded the censorship that took place in the October 1997 Wales This Week programme about John Allen.

He says that ten days after he was interviewed by the programme-makers, he received a phone call from Detective Inspector Neil McAdam who said he was outside with another officer.

McAdam said they wanted to interview him. Frost says he formed the impression they were from the Tribunal.

He agreed to meet DI McAdam. McAdam and detective constable Karen Lewis took a statement from him.

Frost says he told them what he’d told the television journalists.

By an extraordinary coincidence, this day – 22 October 1997 – was two days before the Wales This Week programme about John Allen was due to be screened and during the period when the Tribunal was expressing concern about the interview with Frost.

Frost says that McAdam and WDC Lewis returned a fortnight later with the statement for him to sign.

But McAdam and Lewis were not employed by the Tribunal.

They were detectives from the North Wales Police. McAdam, in fact, had been involved in the investigation that led to the conviction of John Allen.

In December 2009 Rebecca Television asked McAdam, who is still serving, to confirm he’d interviewed Frost and to explain why he had done so.

A fortnight later McAdam emailed to say the questions were “receiving attention”.

In July 2010, after six months’ silence, we lodged an official complaint against McAdam with the Professional Standards Department of the North Wales Police.

The investigation was carried out by Superintendent Paul Breed of the Western Division.

He said that three days after he received the questions from Rebecca Television, McAdam brought the issue to his Divisional Command Team.

The Divisional Command Team then talked to the senior officers at force HQ in Colwyn Bay “with the suggestion that given the nature of the enquiry DI McAdam should not be the person to respond…”

“It is reasonable,” concluded Breed in his report on the complaint, “that DI McAdam has sought advice and guidance from his line managers expecting that ownership to respond … rest with someone higher within the organisation.”

We  had already written separately about the issue to Chief Constable Mark Polin back in January 2009. He never answered.

We wrote to Gordon Anglesea to ask if he remembered anything about PC Jones’ visit to Bryn Alyn. He didn’t answer.

We wrote to Gerard Elias, QC who was the Tribunal’s main counsel. He did not reply.

We also wrote to Andrew Moran, QC who represented the North Wales Police at the Tribunal. He did not reply.

We wrote to Sir Ronald Waterhouse about the Frost allegations. He told us: “the Tribunal has said all that it could properly say on the evidence before it in its report and that it would be both unwise and inappropriate for me to
comment further.”

SIR RONALD WATERHOUSE The retired High Court judge who chaired the Tribunal. He wouldn't comment on the allegation that the Tribunal had prevented Des Frost from giving evidence.

The retired High Court judge who chaired the Tribunal. He wouldn’t comment on the allegation that Des Frost had been prevented from giving evidence.

At that point, we had not discovered that North Wales Police had interviewed Frost. When we wrote to Sir Ronald about this interview, he did not reply…

We also sent a synopsis of this article to the two other members of the Tribunal: Morris le Fleming and Margaret Clough.

Morris le Fleming told us: “I have no wish to comment on your synopsis. I am not, nor ever have been, a Freemason.”

Margaret Clough said: “Thank you for the courtesy of sending the synopsis but I do not have any comment to make.”


1  This article was first published in 2010, part of a series called The Case of the Flawed Tribunal — other articles in the series will be added at a later date.

2  Events have moved on since this article was published. Last year, David Cameron announced a new child abuse police investigation and ordered a review of the Tribunal, headed by Mrs Justice Macur. Rebecca Television has given two statements to both inquiries.

3  The interview with Des Frost can be seen in the video A Touch of Frost.


© Rebecca Television 2013

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