Justice seen to be done for children

26th January 2007 at 00:00
Wales's first children's commissioner will be sorely missed in public life (see page 4). Peter Clarke, who died last Sunday, is one in a million. He was quite simply a decent, down-to-earth man who never stopped believing in the innocence of children and their right to be respected and protected.

Mr Clarke always had time to listen to everybody he met. It was only when his health started to fail him that messages on his mobile phone number, freely given to anybody with cause to contact him, were left unanswered.

Such was the respect in which he was held that every newspaper editor who knew of his ill-health held back from reporting on his cancer fight.

The Clywch report was a breath of fresh air when it was published. Its sensational contents were masked by the objectivity of a man who had gone through every piece of evidence with a fine toothcomb. He admits locking himself away in a hotel room during the inquiry for weeks at a time. This was time which he could have spent with his family, watching his sons play rugby on a Saturday morning, something he loved.

But Mr Clarke was driven in his mission to ensure that what happened to the child sex victims of drama teacher John Owen never happened again. He exposed the dismal failure of education professionals to protect pupils - with straight facts based on hard evidence. Justice, usually delivered by a judge, was seen to be done.

It is now ironic that a review of what has been carried out since the ground-breaking report was published is on the horizon. Mr Clarke had already criticised the slow pace at which his proposals were being put into practice. Shockingly, we are still waiting for some of his key recommendations - including a national counselling service for children - to materialise.

Politicians now have a duty to finish Mr Clarke's legacy. In the meantime, everyone who knew and admired this man, especially the children he served, can post a message on his website.

* www.childcom.org.ukenglishindex.html

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