There has been a public outcry on social media over an investigation by the Public Services Ombudsman into Neil McEvoy AM.
The investigation has come about after a private care home, which cannot be named for legal reasons, complained about Mr McEvoy to the Ombudsman. The company claimed Mr McEvoy had been too “demanding” when he approached the business after the Assembly Member received allegations of abuse against a child in their care. The Ombudsman then investigated and referred the case to the Standards & Ethics Committee at Cardiff Council, where Mr McEvoy is also a Councillor.
It is understood two of the complaints against Mr McEvoy relate to him insisting that a visit to the private care home be arranged and calling the police to organise a welfare check on the child who alleged abuse when he was refused access.
Over the weekend Mr McEvoy posted a video to his social media platforms alerting the public to the investigation against him, which has been viewed over 80,000 times across Facebook and Twitter and received hundreds of messages of support.
I'm being investigated by the Standards & Ethics Committee of @CardiffCouncil for standing up for a kid who was alleging abuse at a care home. Maybe they’d prefer it if Cardiff was the next Rotherham or Rochdale. I won’t let that happen. Full vid here https://t.co/QVBEcn0Pte pic.twitter.com/3e2a0tuN80— Neil McEvoy AM (@neiljmcevoy) January 3, 2020
The three day hearing, which began this Monday, got off to a chaotic start as the public was ejected so the meeting could be held in private. It is understood private discussions needed to take place to ensure Cardiff Council was not in contempt of court. A further delay took place when Mr McEvoy requested an adjournment for the committee to consider information he had provided. A lengthy delay also took place while the committee considered the Ombudsman’s request that the hearing take place in private.
It was not until over 5 hours after the scheduled start time of the committee’s hearing that the public was finally allowed to enter this “public” hearing.
When a child alleges abuse in a private care home what do you do? Say nothing? Look the other way? Or do everything you can to make sure that child is protected. I'm proud to have the backing of these strong women who are fighting the care system to #stopabuse of children. pic.twitter.com/8lCCZCerd2— Neil McEvoy AM (@neiljmcevoy) January 6, 2020
Mr McEvoy’s supporters had travelled from as far afield as Swansea and Birmingham to be at the hearing. One supporter named Sarah said that Mr McEvoy was the only politician she’d come across “who’s actually standing up for the children’s voices”. She added that “nobody’s listening to these children” and she hoped “Neil’s the one who’s going to change all this system for the kids”.
Mel Rose from Cardiff said: “Perhaps he [Neil McEvoy] has gone in and demanded answers. But that’s a good thing. Because he needs to be exposing… people need to standing up and they do need to be exposing what’s really happening because the abuse is everywhere… I don’t see why he should be punished”
Mr McEvoy said:
“It’s absurd that I’m being dragged to a three day Ombudsman hearing for being too “demanding” when dealing with a private care home, where a child had alleged abuse.
“I find it incredible that the Ombudsman for Wales has argued in his evidence that staff at private care homes should not be expected to be held to the same level of scrutiny as Council staff.
“What we have now is an industry. Vulnerable children are commodities that make money for these private companies. And now our nation’s Ombudsman, Nick Bennett, is arguing that the staff at these private care homes should be held to a lower standard of scrutiny than in the public sector.
“That actually disgusts me and I hope he reflects long and hard on his indefensible position. We’ve got to be proactive in listening to kids and stopping abuse, not lowering scrutiny levels to make abuse even more likely. I will continue to be as demanding and robust as I can be whenever I child alleges they are being abused.”