South West Wales

Report on child-abuse ex-youth worker to be published

Michael John Smith Image copyright Dyfed-Powys Police
Image caption Smith was employed as a youth worker for the council between May 2001 and January 2012

A confidential report into an ex-youth worker jailed for child sex offences will be made public by Pembrokeshire council's new cabinet.

It follows a motion put forward by councillor Mike Stoddart, who said it was in the "public interest" to reveal the council's dealings with Michael "Mik" Smith.

Smith, from Haverfordwest, was jailed for six years in 2014.

The cabinet unanimously agreed to publish the report.

During a meeting on Monday cabinet members also agreed to set up a task and finish group to consider the issues raised in the confidential case review of Smith.

Chief Executive Ian Westley said previous decisions not to publish the report had "nothing to do with hiding content" and the authority was "wedded to openness and transparency".

Former council leader Jamie Adams said the accusation that the previous administration had tried to bury the report on Smith "was very unfair."

He said that it commissioned as an internal "learning exercise" for social care and corporate entities and was "never meant for public consumption".

The October 2015 report by an independent social worker and seen by BBC Wales, revealed Smith was almost approved to become a foster carer after his line manager failed to highlight concerns relating to his employment.

This was despite him being disciplined for inappropriate behaviour with children.

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Media captionCouncillor Mike Stoddart said the public had a right to know 'all the details' of the report

It was "only luck" that prevented Smith from being approved as a foster carer, the report said.

Smith was employed as a youth worker for Pembrokeshire council between 2001 and 2012 and during that time he was the subject of three disciplinary hearings.

He was dismissed for gross misconduct and in 2013 a police investigation began after he was accused of sexually abusing a boy.

Smith admitted sexually assaulting a child under the age of 13, inciting the child to engage in sexual activity and taking indecent photographs of the child.

He also admitted possessing 1,136 indecent images of children.

Mr Stoddart first submitted his notion of motion in January 2017 and it had been referred to the cabinet for a final decision.

He said the report "shows quite clearly that members were not told the whole truth about the circumstances surrounding Mik Smith's application to become a foster parent and the provision of a reference by his line manager which failed to mention Smith's previous disciplinary record".

He had claimed it was "in the public interest" to publish the report so the electorate can be "fully apprised of the chain of events".

The council's head of legal services, Claire Incledon, had said the report was commissioned on a confidential basis to get an "impartial and objective overview" on Smith's employment, and was not a public document.

She said the report contained personal information relating to the names of children, parents and professionals, and there are families in the area that "remain affected" by Smith's actions.

"If the report is published confidentiality cannot be maintained," she said.

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