Paedophile inquiries: Waterhouse vs Webster?
It’s early days in the re-investigation of claims of paedophilia in Wales, but it is perhaps a good moment to hope that the work of Richard Webster gets re-visited. In his The Secret of Bryn Estyn (2005 and 2009), Webster (who died in 2011) made a detailed case that many of the allegations of abuse were false, and had indeed been induced by police, judicial and journalistic practices. He claimed these failings had led to several false imprisonments. Webster criticised the Waterhouse Inquiry for misunderstanding the nature of false allegations, and for allowing them to go unchallenged. In short, Ronald Waterhouse (who also died in 2011) may have failed to uncover some cases of abuse, but it may well be that his inquiry also failed to uncover some gross miscarriages of justice.
Paranthetically, it is worth noting that the (2 November 2012) Newsnight report which laid a false trail of accusation was in the direct tradition of poor practice which Richard Webster exposed.