South West Wales

Nicola Francis quits following abuse files error

The head of a Pembrokeshire council department alleged to have wrongly disclosed sensitive child sex abuse reports has quit, it has emerged.

Nicola Francis left her job as head of the children's department last week.

Allegations her department released reports about child sex abuse victims to another victim are the subject of an investigation.

The alleged breach followed a report highlighting failings in safeguarding children.

These included allegations about children being locked in rooms and the hands of one being tied by a teacher.

It led to the creation of a body - the Pembrokeshire Ministerial Board - by the Welsh government in 2011 to support the authority.

The panel of experts completed its work days before the alleged data breach was reported.

An official report highlighting Pembrokeshire's failings in safeguarding children led to a row between the council and the Welsh government.

Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) and Estyn carried out a joint inquiry following 25 cases of alleged professional abuse between 2007 and 2011.

The council had said it wanted to assure parents it was working tirelessly to ensure children were safe.

The allegations about wrongly disclosed child sex reports are being investigated by the Wales Information Commissioner's Office - an independent public authority set up to uphold information rights.

An email circulated to staff last week said Ms Francis had decided "to leave the council to return to England to pursue other career opportunities."

The council thanked her "for the committed service she has provided and the successes she has achieved".

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