6 Nov 2012

Photographs of Wales abuse ‘were handed to police’

Foreign Affairs Correspondent

Exclusive: Steve Messham tells Channel 4 News he passed photographs of children being abused, including himself, to the police but they failed to act.

Warning: you may be distressed by the interview above

The former Bryn Estyn care home resident also said the men who abused him as a teenager frequently threatened him, saying: “If you tell anyone, I’ll have you killed.”

He told Channel 4 News that he broke into the flat of one of his abusers to steal photographs of the abuse he endured, but that nothing was done after he handed them into the police.

Mr Messham was 16 when he allegedly entered the flat in Wrexham in 1979. “I broke in knowing he was away, and I found all these photographs and I handed them to the police – and out of that two people got prosecuted, and one got a caution and that was it.

“And what was on those pictures was unbelievable, it doesn’t make sense. The police do admit there were pictures, but not to the extent I say …. crazy.”

The photos captured lots of men raping boys, including the prominent Conservative figure he accuses of abusing him, Mr Messham alleges. He says he could see men’s faces clearly, but the police said they could not identify the men from the pictures.

Read more: Eyewitness ‘saw Thatcher aide take boys to abuse’

Home Secretary Theresa May on Thursday launched two separate inquiries into abuse in north Wales care homes. The director general of the National Crime Agency will investigate claims about sex offences against youngsters in the 1970s and 1980s, and review how previous inquiries were carried out by the police.

Mrs Justice Julia Wendy Macur will lead a separate review into the “scope and conduct” of the original Waterhouse inquiry into allegations of child abuse at north Wales care homes.

Mr Messham, who claims he was abused more than a dozen times by a Conservative figure and a wider circle of abusers including businessmen and police, told Channel 4 News: “They took photographs, very much so – loads of photographs.

“As I said, I broke into that flat and handed them to the police… (they took them) in the hotel room, in the flat itself they were taking photographs. They got their kicks out of it, whatever they were doing they got kicks off it. It’s just a power thing.”

‘They remind you who they are’

He also says he was threatened by the abusers: “We always got threats. When they abuse you, they always remind you who they are. They always did that – whether it was the prominent Tory member, or the staff in the homes… ‘You tell anybody, you know what you’re going to get. You tell anybody, I’ll have you killed’. You’re scared anyway, you’re a kid, but they just scare you that little bit more.

“It’s not during the act, it’s after they’d finished with you…’Remember who I am’…There wasn’t one who didn’t threaten me afterwards.”

In 1996 the Waterhouse Inquiry sat for 203 days and heard evidence from 650 people, with more than 80 people named as abusers – mainly care workers and teachers. There were 140 compensation claims settled on behalf of the victims and 72 recommendations were made.

However Mr Messham said that the inquiry failed to disclose a prominent child abuser at the time, because Sir Ronald Waterhouse ruled that making names public would be defamatory.

‘Names will come out’

Speaking before his meeting with the Welsh secretary on Tuesday, Mr Messham said: “I could kill them. They wrecked my life. My life’s not normal, never has been …. nightmares, sweats. I ended up in being in hospital for over three and a half years with it – it’s not good is it?

“I tried to give up several times, took several overdoses, slashed my wrists several times. What has kept me going is my daughter, without her I don’t think I’d be here.”

Mr Messham, who until now has not named his abusers, said he is hopeful that the inquiry will be successful, but added: “If I feel nothing’s being done then names will come out”.