By: David Bloomberg Re: UK social workers exonerated (File: UKEXON.ZIP) The following is b

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By: David Bloomberg Re: UK social workers exonerated (File: UKEXON.ZIP) The following is being posted for informational purposes only. The Independent May 17, 1995, Wednesday Social workers in 'ritual abuse' case exonerated By Jojo Moyes Four families whose lives were devastated by false charges of ritual child abuse have accused Durham social services of a "whitewash" after a report cleared social workers involved. The eight adults faced a 17-month investigation and, in some cases spent time in jail, after six children accused them of sexual and Satanic abuse. In January, neighbours John and Patricia Staines, Brian and Pauline Marsh, Robert and Vivienne Crosby and David and Victoria Thomas from Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, were cleared at Newcastle upon Tyne Crown Court. The case was dropped after David Robson QC, for the prosecution, offered no evidence and spoke of the children making "palpably false" allegations. He suggested that they named the couples because they were afraid of identifying whoever really had abused them. The parents' bitterness deepened with yesterday's publication of a Durham county area child protection committee report that cleared the social workers whose interviews with the children formed the basis of the case. It said their actions were "neither precipitate nor draconian but . . . in the best interests of the children and families", but did not refer to the effects on the families, or to the fact that, if the children were abused, the social workers failed to find the real perpetrators. Dr Edwin Pugh, chairman of the inquiry team, admitted there were minor lapses or errors in procedure but said they did not harm the youngsters at the centre of the controversy. "It was not our remit to question whether the children were actually abused or not," he said. "We were only here to check whether the professionals involved in the child abuse investigation acted properly." Last night Mrs Staines, 46, condemned the report and said someone should answer for what the families had been through. "We think the investigation was a whitewash. Our children were taken away from us and given to foster parents when we had done nothing and we have suffered terribly." Mr and Mrs Staines, the first couple to be accused, had been particularly badly affected as they spent five months in jail during investigations. "While they were in custody their home was repossessed, their business folded, one was assaulted and the other threatened. They have since had to leave the area and are on state benefit and living in a rented flat," John Turner, their solicitor, said. "Their lives were absolutely ruined but no one has said 'sorry' for what happened". They were now in the process of taking civil action to sue for damages. -=-=-=- Daily Mail May 17, 1995 Families' fury over child abuse case 'whitewash' OFFICIALS were accused of a whitewash yesterday after saying they could find no serious fault with an investigation into allegations of satanic child sex abuse. Four couples accused of ritually abusing five children aged between seven and 12 were cleared by a court when the case was dropped without any evidence being offered. But the eight, who all lived in the same street in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, complained that their lives had been ruined by the episode. They were verbally and physically assaulted and their homes were attacked. Now, an inquiry by the Durham child protection committee into the way the case was handled insists that social workers, police and other professionals 'acted in the best interests of children and families'. A third of the inquiry report's 27 recommendations say the good work and procedural correctness of the investigators should be acknowledged. One of the wives involved, however, angrily dismissed the findings as 'a series of pats on the back'. Mrs Victoria Thomas, 44, said: 'It is depressing to read so many congratulations of the professionals when you know they were wasting a huge amount of time and resources barking up the wrong tree. A public apology to those who were falsely accused would be more appropriate.' Mrs Patricia Staines, 46, said: 'They split our family up and sent our children to foster parents, when there was no evidence we had done anything wrong. The whole inquiry is a whitewash.' But there was no apology or acknowledgment of the couples' innocence when officials held a press conference after the report was released. Dr Edwin Pugh, director of public health for County Durham Heath Commission, said: 'The committee was not there to make a judgment about guilt or the legal aspects of this.' Asked why an investigation which they judged to have been correctly carried out had resulted in eight innocent people being charged, he insisted: 'It was not our remit.' The couples are expected to sue police and social services, alleging false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and negligence. --- msgedsq 2.0.5 * Origin: The Temples of Syrinx! (1:2430/2112)

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