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August 01, 2002

Doctor to face GMC over false sex claim

TWO former nursery nurses are to report a consultant paediatrician to the medical disciplinary body after she made a series of errors while examining children which led to a report branding the pair as paedophiles.

Dawn Reed, 31, and Christopher Lillie, 37, were forced to flee their homes and contemplated suicide after they were wrongly accused of sexually abusing children in their care.

Now they are considering lodging a complaint against Dr Camille San Lazaro with the General Medical Council.

They were each awarded £200,000 libel damages from the authors of a 1998 report which claimed that they had molested youngsters and been part of a paedophile ring.

Mr Justice Eady, in his judgment on Tuesday, said that the pair had clearly never abused any of their charges at Shieldfield nursery in Newcastle upon Tyne, and added that the review, commissioned by Newcastle City Council, was a shambles.

In his 700-page ruling the judge said that the four authors “clearly fell under the spell” of Dr Lazaro, a consultant at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, and a senior lecturer in paediatric forensic medicine at Newcastle University.

But the judge ruled that she was “unbalanced, obsessive and lacking in judgment”, and gave “untrue accounts” to the criminal injuries compensation board during the libel hearing. She had examined 53 children and made a number of findings of abuse.

Dr Lazaro, who was appointed OBE in 1999 for services in the care of sexually abused children, has also championed the drive to stop parents smacking youngsters.

Yesterday Mr Lillie and Ms Reed said that the impact of the allegations in the document meant that they still feared for their lives.

Ms Reed, who is too afraid to go out alone, said: “We’ve been branded as probably the worst thing anyone could imagine: a paedophile. Once you have been tarred with that brush there’s nothing that can take it away. It’s horrific.”

She said the pressures of falsely being accused of being a child abuser were so immense that at one point she considered driving off a cliff in South Shields. She now tries to avoid children and could never work with them again.

Mr Lillie said: “Suicide was in the back of my mind once the report came out. I could feel all the hurt of everybody I loved.”

Len Fenwick, the chief executive of Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals where Dr Lazaro worked, said that executives at the hospital were studying the judge’s findings. He insisted that Dr Lazaro was a committed and caring professional who was regarded as an international expert in child abuse.

Dr Lazaro was unavailable for comment.

 

 

 

 

 

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