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Friday, 28 October 2011

Police to review child abuse files - LISSUE & FORSTER GREEN

THERE will be a full review of all matters relating to alleged child abuse at the Lissue Hospital near Lisburn, according to the PSNI.

A number of police investigations have already been carried out over a number of years with files sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions and Public Prosecution Service.

The promised review comes as health minister Edwin Poots spoke out in defence of the man he appointed as a child safety chief.

Hugh Connor, who at the time was director of social services at the then Eastern Health Board, appeared to suggest in a 2009 email leaked yesterday that a report into allegations of abuse at children’s hospitals should not be given to police in its entirety.

The latest investigation will focus on allegations relating to both Lissue House and Forster Green in Belfast during the 1980s and 1990s.

According to the PSNI, in July this year they received a copy of reviews carried out by various trusts and boards and an initial assessment and review was carried out by police.

A PSNI spokesman said: “When an allegation of criminality is identified, an investigation will be duly conducted by police.

“We would strongly urge any victims of abuse to contact their local team of specially-trained detectives from the Public Protection Unit. All allegations and any new information will be thoroughly investigated.”

In Hugh Connor’s controversial email, sent on his last day in post and published in yesterday’s Irish News, the man recently appointed by Mr Poots as head of the child safeguarding board, said that anything relevant to the police probe should be passed to the PSNI.

However, he added that “some discrimination” should be used in what parts of a report into the allegations of abuse at Lissue Hospital in Lisburn and Forster Green in Belfast in the 1980s and 1990s was given to police as not all may be relevant.

That prompted the Sinn Fein chairman of Stormont’s health committee, Michelle Gildernew, to say that it should have been left up to the police to decide whether the information was relevant.

But Mr Poots made clear that he did not believe Mr Connor had done anything wrong.

The DUP minister said the email was in the context of Mr Connor seeking to only give police relevant information.

“There is no indication whatsoever in his career that he has done anything other than give the best possible support to children,” he said.

“He has made great efforts to ensure that children are well looked after, and that is why he has got a job in the safeguarding board.

“In terms of the letter [email], it is very clear if you read it within its context and the words ‘with some discrimination on the information being given to the police’ – it relates to information which isn’t relevant.

“Therefore whenever people are trawling through mountains of papers on these issues, the information which does not add anything to the case, that they should use some discrimination about passing that to the police and if they have any doubt, take legal advice on it.”

l If you have suffered sexual abuse, the Nexus Institute offers counselling and can be contacted on 028 9032 6803 or by emailing

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