There are serious questions that need to be asked at Gwynedd Council over its apparent failure to take sufficient action to protect students in their care from a sexual predator leading Ysgol Dyffryn Nantlle, Penygroes.

Last week at Mold Crown Court, Neil Foden, was found guilty of the sexual abuse of four girls over a four-year period. The 66-year-old was convicted of 19 charges in total, while he was found not guilty of sexual activity with a fifth girl.

What is particularly disturbing is that the court heard in evidence that concerns were first raised to Gwynedd Council about Foden in 2019. They were dismissed.

Over the four-year period, Foden engaged in 12 counts of sexual activity with a child, two counts of sexual activity with a child in a position of trust, one count each of causing or inciting child sexual activity, attempting to arrange the commission of a child sex offence, sexual communication with a child, possession of indecent photographs of a child and sexual assault of a child

Following the guilty verdict, Gwynedd Council issued a statement saying it welcomed the court's decision, adding: “We are appalled by the nature of the crimes committed and commend and admire the remarkable courage and resilience the victims and their families have displayed throughout the process. We are grateful to them and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.

It also said: “We are also grateful to the wider Ysgol Friars school community – pupils, families and staff – for their willing co-operation as police carried out their investigations. We recognise the consequences of this serious case may cause further strain and distress for pupils. As a result, pastoral arrangements put in place for pupils at the start of the criminal proceedings will continue for the foreseeable future.“

That all sounds good. But the reality is that checks and balances at the council failed. And as a result of those failures, whether due to systems, practices or personnel, or a combination of those factors, there are are young victims out there suffering the consequences.