Shieldfield: the latest news
Shieldfield: university holds inquiry
UNIVERSITY OF NORTHUMBRIA is to hold an inquiry into the manner in which
its reputation has been affected by the role played in the Shieldfield
saga by disgraced social work academic, Professor Richard Barker. A report
about this inquiry appears in
today's issue of
the Newcastle Sunday Sun which also carries news of a further
complaint against psychologist
Jacqui Saradjian who also served on the team.
For my THES article on why Professor Barker should resign, click
Meanwhile it is perhaps not too late to draw
attention to an interesting
online forum on false allegations run by
Community Care which carries telling comments by Michael Barnes, Sue
Griffiths and others. For a long time this leading social work magazine
has dragged its heels on this issue. The fact that the December forum took
place online rather than in the magazine perhaps indicates that it is
still reluctant to deal with the issue properly. But the times may be
January 12 2003
Home secretary upholds nursery nurses' innocence
decision reached with unprecented swiftness, the Home Secretary, David
Blunkett, has endorsed the innocence of Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie and
agreed to pay them compensation for being wrongly charged and wrongly
imprisoned. This is the first time that the Home Secretary has ever given
a complete exoneration on the basis of facts uncovered during a civil
case. For Bob Woffinden's Guardian story, which appeared on Thursday 19
which have appeared in the Newcastle press announcing that the nursery
nurses will now have a 'massive payout' are misleading. In comparison to
the original libel awards of £200,000, the amount of compensation paid by
the Home Office will be relatively small.
22 December, 2002
Call for council chief to resign
Since the last Shieldfield bulletin appeared here there have been a number
of noteworthy developments. In a solemn council meeting in Newcastle on
Wednesday 4 December, Liberal Democrat councillor Gerry Keating called on
the leader of the council, Tony Flynn,
For those who have not followed the story, it was, of course, Councillor
Flynn who, in 1994, on the very day that the two wrongly accused nursery
nurses had been acquitted in a court of law, made a statement to TV
cameras in which he effectively pronounced them guilty over the heads of
At the council meeting on 4 December, after eight long years, Councillor
Flynn actually did one thing he had never done before - he apologised to
Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie for all the suffering they had been caused.
Interestingly the Newcastle Journal, did not even report this
fact. Perhaps it took the view that an apology which took so long in
coming, and which had to be extracted from Councillor Flynn by a
political opponent's call for his resignation, was not worth the inch or
so of paper a report of it would have taken up.
On the Sunday following the council meeting, the Sunday Sun ran a
of the meeting
and launched its own campaign in an attempt to force the four members of
the Review Team to hand back the £360,000 they had been paid by the people
of Newcastle to compile their dishonest and libellous report. This Sunday
some of the
many messages it has received in support of its campaign.
But a reader of this website who lives in the north east poses an
intriguing question. He points out that the original Sunday Sun
story printed photographs of only three of the members of the Review Team.
Judith Jones was represented only by a black silhouette. And this week's
edition of the paper also fails to carry any photograph of her. What can
15 December, 2002
According to a report in yesterday's Newcastle
Chronicle, the City Council has now published its
report into its own handling of the Shieldfield libel case under the title
'Lessons to be Learned'. Although the newspaper says that the Council 'has
admitted to a catalogue of mistakes over the way a review team set up to
investigate allegations of abuse at a nursery', it is by no means clear at
this stage that the catalogue in question is either accurate or complete.
Among the Council's many mistakes, one of the most important was that it
set up its 'independent' inquiry only after it had prejudged the crucial
issue. Not only had it pronounced Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie guilty of
sexually abusing children in advance of their criminal trial, but its
acting leader, Councillor Tony Flynn, actually condemned them again in
public on the very day that they had been acquitted in a court of law.
No less important was the decision of the council to appoint to its review
team two people - Judith Jones and Jacqui Saradjian - who were known to be
believers in the reality of satanic sexual abuse.
Neither of these extraordinary lapses of judgment features in the list of
admitted errors contained in the Chronicle story. It remains to
be seen whether they are in fact dealt with in the report, which is due to
be debated in a Council meeting next Wednesday.
28 November, 2002
Lawyers short-listed as doctor suspended
week brought two new developments in the Shieldfield libel case. The most
welcome and the most unexpected was an announcement that three of the
lawyers who fought for justice on behalf of the falsely accused nursery
nurses, Dawn Reed and Christopher Lillie, have been short-listed for a
human rights award.
Barristers Adrienne Page QC and Adam Speker, and solicitor Richard Osborne
of S. J. Cornish were jointly nominated as Human Rights Lawyer of the
Year, 2002, an award sponsored by JUSTICE and Liberty. They have now been
short-listed for the award which will be presented on 10 December,
International Human Rights Day. For full details click
same week brought news in an article in
consultant paediatrician at the centre of the case, Dr Camille san Lazaro
has at last been suspended.
For general Shieldfield news, views and links
More Shieldfield news soon.
'Scandal wrecked my life'
On Monday November 4 the Newcastle-based Evening Chronicle gave
the Shieldfield story front-page treatment for the first time in many
weeks. Under the banner headline 'CHILD ABUSE SCANDAL WRECKED MY
LIFE' it told the story of how Joyce Eyeington, the overall
manager of Newcastle's nurseries, had been driven to a nervous break-down
by the publication of the report which wrongly condemned Newcastle nursery
nurses Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie. She had, she said, been made into a
scapegoat and had been punished for abuse which had in fact never taken
place at all:
"My life has been ruined by what happened. My family has been torn apart,
my reputation has been shattered, I've been forced to leave my home and my
professional career has been ruined," said Mrs Eyeington.
"I am one of the forgotten sacrifices of this affair. I am another victim
of that report which has been shown to be nonsense. Everyone involved back
in 1993 has suffered, the parents, the staff and more importantly the
children. But what has been done about it? Absolutely nothing."
which is run over three pages, also features prominently a box headed
'Panel will not appeal' which prints photographs of the two nursery
nurses, briefly summarises the entrire story and includes the Council's
statement that it fully accepts that they are innocent of all the
allegations against them.
to Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie.
call for Barker to go
story of the Shieldfield libel case, which was brought by two Newcastle
nursery nurses when an independent Review Team wrongly found them guilty
of sexually abusing young children in their care and supplying them to a
paedophile ring, continues. The lead letter in the edition of the
Times Higher Educational Supplement published on 18 October was from
Terry Philpot. In it Philpot wrote that the call for Richard Barker, the
head of the Review Team, to resign or be dismissed from his post of
professor of social work at the University of Northumbria 'deserves the
fullest possible support'.
He went on to suggest that, rather than making self-serving statements,
Richard Barker would be better advised to apologise to the families
involved in the case and 'to the two workers whose lives have been
ruined'. Although Philpot was evidently writing in a private capacity, his
views are particularly significant since he is the editor-in-chief of
Community Care, the most widely read periodical for social workers in
The following week's THES carried a new call for Barker to
resign, made by Howard Moss, a lecturer at the University of Swansea. For
the THES letters, click
interview with Richard Barker appeared alongside my article,
The portion of
the judgment of Mr Justice Eady in the Shieldfield libel case which deals
Professor Barker's evidence
available on this site. The judge's
findings on malice
related to this evidence.
For general Shieldfield news, views and links,
including a link to the full judgment, news about Newcastle City Council's
decision not to appeal, and about the role of the Lib Dems in opening a
real debate in a recent council meeting, please click
© Richard Webster, 2002