What the BBC ignored

In my article about child abuse in North Wales ("What the BBC did not tell us", 19 February) I pointed out that at least five of the first seven witnesses on whom the BBC2 programme A Place of Safety relied had previously made allegations that were demonstrably false.

In his response John Geraint, the head of production at BBC Wales (Letters, 5 March), ignores this point completely and tries to give the impression that all the allegations in the programme were sound. Almost all the claims he makes are either empty or untrue. To take one example, he says that "Brian Roberts' allegations are supported by a Home Office inquiry". In fact this inquiry took place in 1971 and was solely concerned with the conduct of the then head of Bryn Estyn. It did not consider a single allegation of sexual abuse and cannot be cited as supporting a complaint of attempted rape first made in 1997.

John Geraint shows loyalty to journalists who worked on the programme, but broadcasters also have a duty to the public: to uncover the truth. As I suggested in my article, it was this duty they failed to discharge.

Richard Webster

This article first appeared in the 12 March 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Yanks go home . . . but not just yet