Original Article By Dean Nelson At TheGuardian.com:

One morning, a fortnight ago, I checked the BBC headlines to find my old editor, Peter Wilby, peering out. He’d been exposed as a paedophile and convicted of possessing child sexual abuse images. I still feel sick at the discovery.

It would be disturbing enough to discover anyone you knew had done something so terrible – he was convicted of possessing images of children being raped since the 1990s. But Wilby wasn’t anyone. He was a pillar of the media establishment, an editor of the Independent on Sunday and the New Statesman, and a Guardian columnist.

Journalists who had worked with Wilby were appalled at his crimes, while others raged at his “hypocrisy”, but what shocked me was the creeping realisation that he had used his position as an editor and columnist to create what the writer Beatrix Campbell has called a “hostile environment” for victims of abuse.

It dawned on me that he had applied that “hostile environment” to me at the outset of my career when I was a freelance reporter at the Independent on Sunday, and he was its news editor.

In April 1991, I learned of mental and physical abuse at Ty Mawr children’s home in Gwent, south Wales, where some residents had attempted suicide. The claims emerged in the wake of abuse claims at other children’s homes – the “Pindown” scandal in Staffordshire where staff used violent restraint on children, and sexual abuse by social worker Frank Beck at homes in Leicestershire. I thought Wilby would be excited at the prospect of a scoop, but he couldn’t have been less interested. I took it to the daily Independent, which put it on the front page and made a campaign of it.

Seven months later, I reported on an abuse scandal in north Wales, centred on the Bryn Estyn children’s home in Wrexham, where former residents said they had been sexually assaulted by care home staff and a senior policeman. The story led the front page of the Independent on Sunday, where Wilby was then deputy editor and, I later learned, had advised the editor against publishing it.

A tribunal of inquiry was ordered under the retired judge Sir Ronald Waterhouse, whose report Lost in Care, published in 2000, confirmed the vast scale of abuse and recommended an overhaul of the care system. He described Bryn Estyn as “a form of purgatory or worse from which [children] emerged more damaged than when they entered”. The deputy head of the home, Peter Howarth, was jailed for buggery and sexual assault of children in his care and died in jail. Police later said had he not died he would have been charged with a further 38 assaults.

But one of those implicated in the abuse, Supt Gordon Anglesea, successfully sued for libel and it marked the start of a wider backlash, led by Wilby, against whistleblowers, victims and journalists who paid too much heed to their claims.

As New Statesman editor, he published articles denigrating the north Wales victims as “damaged” and manipulated by journalists such as me, all part of a modern witch-hunt in which the real victims were those accused of abuse. The Anglesea libel verdict was regularly cited as evidence of the witch-hunt.

Some of my witnesses in this investigation did not survive. Three killed themselves, two of whom had alleged sexual abuse by Anglesea. The former senior policeman was eventually convicted in 2016 of sexually assaulting two boys, aged 14 and 15, at an “attendance centre” he ran for runaways. He was sentenced to 12 years and died in jail a few weeks later, but it was more than 25 years too late. Mark Humphreys never lived to see the justice he craved; he took his life a few weeks after Anglesea’s 1995 libel case victory.

The heroic whistleblower in the north Wales case, the former social worker and now novelist Alison Taylor, sued Wilby and the New Statesman for defamation and won an apology.

Anglesea’s conviction in 2016 didn’t give Wilby pause for reflection – he shrugged it off and stuck to his campaign. In the Guardian, he wrote in support of the paedophile former pop star Gary Glitter and chastised the Sun’s campaign to identify child sex offenders. The Guardian has now removed those and six other columns by Wilby and updated his profile page to reflect his conviction.

He also used a column in the Times Educational Supplement to decry what he portrayed as the wokery of overzealous child protection. He called for a more relaxed approach to “intimate relations” between adults and children. “It is right that we abhor child abuse and no longer tolerate abuse of authority for even low-level sexual gratification. But do we need to go so far? Can’t we forbid the sex but still allow intimate relations between teachers and pupils, adults and children?”

Wilby argued for “nuance” in these matters, while denigrating those who dared complain of abuse. There was nothing nuanced in the material Wilby collected and created over his career – they were crime scene photographs of our most vulnerable children being raped for his pleasure.

The clues were all there, but it took the evidence gathered by the National Crime Agency for us all to see him for what he really is: a child sex offender.

I’ve wondered over this past fortnight how I might have explained all this to Mark Humphreys, the young man I promised to help find justice but who killed himself waiting in vain. He’d been sexually abused in Bryn Estyn by staff hired to care for him, including the home’s deputy head. The nearest police officer he might complain to was Anglesea. And when he finally decided to trust a reporter with his story, it turned out the journalist’s editor was a paedophile – someone who is sexually attracted to children – looking out for other abusers.

I was a young man when I met Mark more than 30 years ago and I naively thought that if I could help expose the scale of abuse that children in care had endured, we could change the care system and ensure our most vulnerable children were seen and heard.

I hadn’t reckoned on Wilby’s secret agenda. More than 30 years after north Wales, Pindown, Leicester and so many other child-abuse scandals, the case for listening to children and taking abuse allegations seriously must still be made over and over again.

Wilby leaves us a tough question: will we ever learn?