BBC Wales has discharged its duty with rigour

BBC Wales was the only media organisation to have a journalist present at the North Wales child abuse inquiry for every single day of its hearing. One of the fruits of this long-term investment in responsible, diligent journalism was the BBC2 programme A Place of Safety. Richard Webster's article ("What the BBC did not tell us", 19 February) fails to recognise this, and is wrong or misleading about many other aspects of the programme's journalism.

Webster's readers may be led to believe that he has disproved evidence used in the programme, but this is not the case. Nor could it be, because we did not rely solely on witnesses' evidence. Their testimony was used only where it was corroborated by other information or witnesses, or validated by court convictions.

This is true for every one of the instances Webster cites. Brian Roberts' allegations are supported by a Home Office inquiry. The testimonies of Tony Gregory and Steven Meesham are validated by Peter Howarth's conviction, which, contrary to Webster's belief, has never seriously been questioned in the five years BBC Wales has been following the story. Andrew Teague's contribution was carefully checked and was entirely correct in terms of location, time and people. Andrew Treanor's evidence is corroborated by Alison Taylor, a senior care-worker, and by other witnesses to his injuries.

There were four other witnesses used in the programme who testified to abuse. Webster has not questioned their contributions, but I can assure your readers that the same principles of sound journalism applied. Many other allegations were made on camera, but where corroborating evidence was not available, these were not included. Many other witnesses, who for understandable reasons declined to appear, supported the allegations that were aired.

All of the witnesses who agreed to appear did so in the knowledge that recounting these events would be a painful and potentially humiliating experience. They deserved the sensitivity which I believe the programme showed them. But that does not mean the programme lacked rigour: all of these stories stand up. The programme made clear that the official report is likely to conclude that there was widespread abuse in North Wales over a 20-year period, but that the full extent may never be known. At least ten people who have alleged abuse have committed suicide. We owe them - and our contributors and viewers - the duty of responsible journalism. I am convinced that the BBC has discharged that duty to the rigorous standards which its licence-payers expect.

John Geraint
Head of Production, BBC Wales