BAILII [Home] [Databases] [World Law] [Multidatabase Search] [Help] [Feedback]

England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions

You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales High Court (Queen's Bench Division) Decisions >> Lillie & Anor v Newcastle City Council & Ors [2002] EWHC 1600 (QB) (30 July 2002)
Cite as: [2002] EWHC 1600 (QB)

[New search] [Context] [View without highlighting] [Printable RTF version] [Help]

Neutral Citation Number: [2002] EWHC 1600 (QB)
Case No: HQ9903605, HQ9903606


Royal Courts of Justice
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
30 July 2002

B e f o r e :


- and -




Miss A Page Q.C. and Mr A Speker (instructed by S.J. Cornish) for the Claimants
Mr G Bishop, Mr I Christie and Ms S Mansoori (instructed by Wragge & Co) for the
Newcastle City Council and the Review Team
Hearing dates : From 11th January 2002 to 20th June 2002



Crown Copyright ©


        Para. No
    1. The factual background  
           The events of April 1993 1
           The widening of the investigation 11
           The disciplinary process 17
           The criminal proceedings 24
           The steps taken by the City Council meanwhile 56
    2. Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed 77
    3. The Review Team's Report published on 12 November 1998 114
    4. Media coverage of the Case  
           The Newcastle Chronicle 141
           Other media coverage 294
    5. The issues raised in the litigation 322
    6. What is the correct approach to justification? 354
    7. The expert evidence relevant to child abuse  
           Introduction 381
           Dr Jane Watkeys and Dr Kathryn Ward: The paediatric evidence 383
      Professor Maggie Bruck and Professor William Friedrich: The "disclosures" 401
           Dr Sandra Hewitt and Dr Hamish Cameron: Child Behaviour 473
    8. The evidence of multiple abuse  
           General Introduction 503
           The evidence of Dr Camille San Lazaro 540
           Child 1 559
           Child 2 588
           Child 3 604
           Child 4 614
           Child 5 623
           Child 6 634
           Child 7 643
           Child 8 663
           Child 10 672
           Child 11 711
           Child 12 726
           Child 14 737
           Child 15 803
           Child 17 807
           Child 18 822
           Child 19 827
           Child 21 840
           Child 22 860
           Child 23 900
           Child 24 921
           Child 25 949
           Child 26 969
           Child 27 981
           Child 28 997
           Child 29 1008
           Child 30 1020
           Child 31 1034
    9. The evidence called for the claimants on the abuse issue 1051
    10 The privilege issues for the Review Team 1085
    11 The Review Team's Terms of Reference 1096
    12 The evidence of the Review Team defendants. 1129
    13 Findings on the allegations of malice against the Review Team 1284
    14 The privilege issues for the Newcastle City Council 1400
    15 The City Council's evidence on qualified privilege and malice  
           General Introduction 1452
           The "one-off" approach to publishing the Report 1459
           Mr Dervin 1466
           Mr Lavery 1478
           Mr Bell 1488
           Mr Arnold 1492
           Mr Flynn 1502
           Mr Poll 1513
           Mr Scott 1523
           Overall Conclusion 1532
    16 Compensation 1534
    17 A brief summary of findings 1552

    Mr Justice Eady :

    1) The factual background

    The events of April 1993
  1. In the first week of April 1993 a young man called Jason Dabbs pleaded guilty at Newcastle Crown Court to nine counts of indecent assault, and asked that three other similar offences be taken into consideration. All the offences admitted related to children at a local nursery and he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. He was at the time a student and the offences had occurred while he was on a placement during the course of his studies. This naturally attracted wide publicity and caused anger and concern amongst the public generally, and especially among the parents of young children. The offences had apparently been committed while he was on the nursery premises and indeed in the presence of other adults (who were not in any way implicated in the offences or aware of what was going on). Those particular circumstances were surprising to say the least, and few people had previously addressed the possibility of such abuse taking place within a nursery environment (although, as early as 1987, the report of an inquiry into abuse of primary school children in Cornwall had been published, under the title Child Abuse in Schools).
  2. An inquiry was commissioned by the Newcastle City Council pursuant to s.81 of the Children Act 1989, and carried out by an experienced practitioner, Mr Peter Hunt, who made findings and recommendations in September 1994 with a view to avoiding such abuse in the future. Mr Hunt (now His Honour Judge Peter Hunt) pointed out the limitations of his inquiry and specifically that he was not in a position to make findings of abuse on any wider basis than the offences to which Jason Dabbs had pleaded guilty. Nevertheless, he was able to conclude (para. 2.6.27) that the busy atmosphere of a nursery class can provide opportunities for determined paedophiles to abuse their charges without being noticed. This would no doubt be contrary to most people's intuitive response to such allegations which would, at least up to that time, have been one of incredulity. It is right to say, however, that Mr Hunt's findings in this respect were consistent with experience of abuse in day nurseries in the United States (see e.g. Nursery Crimes by David Finkelhor, 1988).
  3. Meanwhile, within days of Jason Dabbs' court appearance, and the publicity it attracted, the mother of a small boy at another nursery situated in the centre of Newcastle, Shieldfield, complained to the police that he had been abused by one of the staff at that establishment. The person concerned was Mr Christopher Lillie, who was then a qualified nursery nurse and had been working there, either on a temporary or permanent basis, since 1988. The boy has been referred to throughout these proceedings as either "Child 22" or "the Index Child".
  4. It is probably fair to say that this referral to the police triggered the long and complicated chain of events which unfolded over the succeeding months and years and led, eventually, to the trial of these libel actions over no less than 79 days in 2002. I must now attempt to summarise those events.
  5. Following the complaint about Child 22, made during the course of the Easter weekend, the matter was referred to Newcastle Social Services Department and also to the Police Child Protection Unit. A meeting took place on 14 April 1993 between the Child Protection Team, the mother and representatives of the Social Services Department. The next day the child was examined by Dr Neela Shabde. The child was at that stage complaining that "Chris" had hurt his bottom, but the examination revealed no signs of penetrative trauma.
  6. On 16 April 1993, Child 22 was interviewed by a police officer attached to the Police Child Protection Unit, Helen Foster, who was to play a significant role in the extensive police enquiries over the next 12 months. On the same day, Mr Lillie was informed that he was suspended from duty pending a full investigation. This information was conveyed to him by Joyce Eyeington, who had responsibility within the local authority for the management of day nurseries. A further conversation took place between them on 20 April during which Mrs Eyeington told Mr Lillie that the medical examination of Child 22 had revealed no physical signs of abuse. In the event, Mr Lillie never returned to work.
  7. It so happened that Mrs Eyeington's niece (by marriage), Susan Eyeington, was the officer in charge of Shieldfield Nursery. She was interviewed on 19 April. On 22 April, interviews took place with Susan Elsdon, the member of staff who had responsibility for Child 22 before he came into the care of Mr Lillie, and with Dawn Reed who had been working alongside Mr Lillie in what was known as the "Red Room". That was where Child 22 had been looked after since 1 September 1992.
  8. On 27 April, Joyce Eyeington interviewed the child's uncle and aunt who confirmed that he had told them that "Chris" had hurt his bottom and genitals.
  9. Naturally, the suspension of Mr Lillie and the reasons for it presented the nursery management and the local authority with a real problem as to how the parents were to be properly informed about what was going on, given their limited state of knowledge at that time.
  10. Meetings were organised at the Nursery at which parents were provided originally with only the barest of detail. They were told that a male member of staff had been suspended.
  11. The widening of the investigation
  12. During May 1993, two social workers, Vanessa Lyon and Marion Harris, were made available within the same building as the Nursery should any parent/carer wish to raise concerns. Within a short space of time, information had been obtained from 14 of the families. Accordingly, a "strategy meeting" was arranged for 26 May, for the purpose of discussing developments up to that point and what further action should be taken.
  13. After what must have seemed to parents, at least, a long period of delay, a letter was written by Joyce Eyeington on 23 July inviting them to a meeting on 28 July. Thereafter, it seems that meetings were held on a regular basis to offer parents information and support.
  14. As is well known, any local authority is under a statutory duty to take action for the protection of a child within its area where there is reasonable cause to suspect that he or she is suffering, or is likely to suffer, "significant harm": s.47 of the Children Act 1989. There were in Newcastle at the time procedures in place to enable that obligation to be carried out. In particular, from time to time, case conferences would take place with respect to any child, or children, suspected of being at risk. In the early stages, it was not possible to come to a firm conclusion as to whether the suspension of Mr Lillie on 16 April had been in itself sufficient to eliminate such risk. A case conference was held on 6 May 1993 following the referral by the mother of Child 22, during which she implicated not only "Chris" but also "Dawn". She reported that her son had described "Dawn" as calling him a "little bastard". In consequence, a second member of staff at the nursery, Dawn Reed, was suspended on 12 May. Meanwhile, on 5 May Mr Lillie had been arrested for questioning in relation to Child 22 and released on bail. Thereafter investigations continued with regard to both suspended members of staff.
  15. At the case conference on 6 May, according to the note I have seen, the mother was also referring to a house or houses to which he had been taken, where he had seen a man who hurt him and a "lady who looks like a man". He had also "blacked out completely" when coming away from the park. He required constant reassurance that he was in his own house, and also said that "someone had been putting things in his bottom". He was also reported as referring to a monster and as showing some apprehension at the mention of the word "library". These were to become recurring themes in the Shieldfield inquiry over the following months. At that stage Dr Shabde is recorded as expressing the view that he was a "disturbed little boy", and she recommended a "psychological/psychiatric assessment".
  16. At this stage further allegations came to be made by other children attending the nursery, to the effect that they too had been abused by Mr Lillie and/or Miss Reed. (Those allegations have often been referred to as "disclosures", despite the fact that this term had been deprecated in the Report of the Inquiry into the Child Abuse in Cleveland (1987), to which I shall naturally have to refer in much greater detail in due course.)
  17. In July 1993, Mr Lillie was re-arrested and Dawn Reed arrested for the first time. Those arrests related to allegations of abuse perpetrated on a small girl (Child 23). At this stage their homes were searched for the first time (and criticism was later to be levelled at the police for not having done so earlier). Although both Claimants were released on bail after questioning on this occasion, they were arrested again in September 1993 in relation to allegations made by a boy known as "Child 10" and, having been charged, they were detained in custody. Miss Reed remained in Low Newton Remand Centre until 23 December, when she was granted bail with a condition of residence at a bail hostel. Mr Lillie remained in custody until the trial began in July 1994. Meanwhile, on 22 October 1993, he had been granted bail by a Judge in Chambers, but as he was leaving Durham Prison he was re-arrested. This was because, on that very day, Child 14 had made an allegation of rape. (Miss Reed was also granted bail and re-arrested on the same day.)
  18. The disciplinary process
  19. I was told that considerable resentment grew up among parents at the fact that Mr Lillie and Miss Reed were, during the period of their suspension, continuing to receive their salaries. In any event, the City Council determined to press ahead with disciplinary hearings, despite representations in January 1994 from the Crown Prosecution Service. On 20 January, the Principal Crown Prosecutor, Mr Neil Holdsworth, wrote to the Senior Solicitor at the City Council in the following terms:
  20. "… any proposed disciplinary proceedings would naturally relate to the same issues as in the criminal proceedings. There is, therefore, not only a risk that the criminal proceedings would be prejudiced, by the availability to the defence of 'abuse of process' arguments, but the defendants themselves would be unable to defend the disciplinary proceedings properly for fear of self incrimination".
  21. Separate hearings took place, in February 1994, as a result of which both Mr Lillie and Miss Reed were dismissed. Although there were appeal hearings, the dismissals were confirmed and it then became possible to discontinue salary payments. Following several adjournments, Mr Lillie's disciplinary proceedings took place on 14 February 1994 at Durham Prison. The hearing was held there because he was living there on remand at that time. In the event, he decided not to attend in the light of legal advice. It was believed that there was a risk of prejudice to the pending criminal proceedings (and that he would be unlikely to receive a fair hearing). The hearing took place in front of Mr Graham Armstrong, the Assistant Director of Social Services, who heard from some eight witnesses, namely Joyce Eyeington, Andrew Waterworth, Lyn Boyle, Vanessa Lyon, Dr San Lazaro, Kulvinder Chohan, Isabella Hepplewhite and Marion Harris. Apart from Mrs Eyeington and Dr San Lazaro, they were social workers. Mr Lillie was dismissed for what was found to be "gross misconduct". His appeal was dismissed on 9 May 1994 before a body described as the Corporate Disciplinary Appeals Panel.
  22. Miss Reed's disciplinary hearing was held on 21 February 1994, again before Graham Armstrong. She was represented at the hearing by a trade union officer from Unison although she did not herself choose to give evidence. Clearly important was the evidence of Dr San Lazaro, but she was not there to be cross-examined because she was on holiday. Her evidence therefore went by default. She was dismissed the following day, also for "gross misconduct". Her appeal was heard on 11 and 12 May, when her dismissal too was upheld.
  23. I need not go into detail about these disciplinary proceedings. They are at the periphery of the present proceedings. I had no wish to comment on them at all. They could hardly be relevant, for example, to the Claimants' allegations of malice in relation to publications in November 1998.
  24. Yet Mr Bishop was keen to lead evidence about them. On 22 May he called a Mr Norman Greig who is a personnel officer at Newcastle City Council. I am not sure what purpose this served. I believe the intention was to demonstrate the fairness of the disciplinary proceedings. If so, the exercise was a failure. Since Mr Bishop specifically brought these hearings into this case, and invites me to make findings about them, I shall reluctantly do so. They carry no conviction at all. Not only were they superficial but, as emerged during the cross-examination of Vanessa Lyon on 23 May 2002, they proceeded on the basis of partial and selective evidence. She did not present the material as a whole to the disciplinary panel for its members to make up their own minds. She edited out what she thought was irrelevant; for example, matters favourable to Miss Reed, such as that Child 14 exonerated her in interviews on 4 and 22 October 1993. Indeed, she omitted altogether the interview of 4 October.
  25. The disciplinary hearings did play a part in the evidence, however, since it emerged rather surprisingly that the Review Team had later taken the adverse disciplinary findings as being in themselves evidence that Mr Lillie and Miss Reed had committed sexual abuse on at least some children. That is curious, to say the least, in the light of their much vaunted "independence" from the Council. It is perhaps, even more startling when one calls to mind how perfunctory the hearings had been and how they had been conducted with such indecent haste. Mr Kevin Hattam, the trade union officer who represented Miss Reed, later observed that they were the "strangest" disciplinary proceedings he had experienced as there appeared to be "no evidence". The Council was just "going through the motions". The right thing to have done would have been to wait until the criminal proceedings were concluded, and the two individuals concerned would at least have been free from the inhibitions of legal advice and a pending criminal trial.
  26. Neither Mr Lillie nor Miss Reed ever took proceedings for unfair or wrongful dismissal (a point to which the City Council attached considerable importance in the course of submissions in these proceedings). In the circumstances, it was hardly surprising.
  27. The criminal proceedings
  28. Eventually, a criminal trial commenced at Newcastle Crown Court on 8 July 1994 before Holland J. There were altogether 11 counts, relating to a total of six children. The children who formed the subject of the criminal proceedings at that time have been referred to in these libel actions as Children 2, 14, 19, 23 and 24 (girls) and Child 10 (a boy). (It is to be noted that the prosecuting authorities took the view at an early stage that there was insufficient evidence to justify criminal proceedings in respect of the original complainant Child 22.)
  29. One of the charges Mr Lillie faced in the Crown Court was that of raping Child 14. She was born on 17 November 1988 and began at Shieldfield on 21 January 1991. When she began there, she was in the care of Miss Reed and later, with effect from 16 October 1991, of Mr Lillie. She last attended the Nursery on 22 July 1992. Thus, it would appear that, when the alleged rape took place, she was either two or three years old. Holland J heard submissions for several days and, having considered the video evidence in relation to Child 14, concluded on 13 July 1994 that it should not be admitted in evidence. His Lordship's reasons were given during the course of a ruling the following day. It was then decided by the Crown Prosecution Service that there was insufficient evidence for the matter to proceed and, on the learned judge's direction, both Claimants were acquitted. It seems that the Crown took the view that the evidence relating to Child 14 had been the strongest. One of the matters to which Holland J attached significance was that, in the course of two out of the three interviews in which Child 14 participated, she had expressly exonerated Miss Reed of anything untoward. (It will be necessary for me at a later stage to return in much more detail to the content of Child 14's video interviews.)
  30. Since it has been so misunderstood or misrepresented subsequently, it is right that I should summarise the ruling.
  31. The learned Judge began by reminding himself that his concern, as the trial Judge, could not be limited to reflecting personal sympathy; it had to reflect his duty to ensure that the criminal proceedings were conducted fairly and in accordance with law. That is why he decided to explain the approach he was adopting fully, so that it would be properly understood by the public.
  32. He addressed counts 1, 2, 3 on the indictment first. These consisted of a charge of rape by Mr Lillie of Child 14 (Count 1), indecent assault upon her by Mr Lillie (Count 2) and indecent assault by Miss Reed (Count 3).
  33. He pointed out that the child was in the Red Room at Shieldfield Nursery between 4 February 1991 and 2 March 1992. She left the nursery altogether, according to the evidence before him, in August 1992. Since she was born on 17 November 1988, this meant that the alleged offences would have taken place over the period when she was two or three years old.
  34. The Judge went on to explain that Child 14 was first interviewed by Vanessa Lyon (the social worker) on 4 October 1993 before a video camera. Four days later, she was examined by Dr San Lazaro who concluded:
  35. "There was unequivocal evidence of previous penetrative damage consistent with blunt trauma with any object from finger size upwards on one or many occasions in the past."
  36. A second video interview took place on 13 October between the child and Vanessa Lyon (supported, as she had been on the first occasion, by Constable Helen Foster). A third interview took place on 22 October 1993. So far as those interviews revealed allegations on the part of Child 14, they were made when she was nearly 5 years old.
  37. The Judge turned to Count 4 which contained an allegation of joint indecent assault by Mr Lillie and Miss Reed upon [Child 23]. She had been born on 22 February 1990 and was in the care of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed from about August to December 1992 (i.e. beginning when she was two and half years old). She was first interviewed on 12 July 1993 (again before a video camera), when she was three and half. She was examined a week later by Dr San Lazaro who again found a significantly damaged hymen.
  38. Count 5 related to [Child 24] and contained a charge of indecent assault by Mr Lillie. She was described as having been in the Red Room from January to November 1992 (her third birthday occurring on 14 August 1992). She was interviewed on 22 June and 30 July 1993. On 18 November of that year Dr San Lazaro made similar findings to those already described.
  39. The alleged victim in relation to Counts 6, 7 and 8 was a small boy [Child 10]. The first charge was one of indecent assault by Mr Lillie, the second was of indecent assault by Miss Reed and the third of assault occasioning actual bodily harm by Miss Reed.
  40. He was born on 3 July 1989 and was in the Red Room between August 1991 and July 1992. He was interviewed on 18 August 1993 before a video camera and examined by Dr. San Lazaro on 1 September 1993 (when nothing of significance was found). He was just four years old at the stage of interview and speaking of events alleged to have occurred when he would have been two.
  41. The learned Judge then turned to Count 9 which related to an allegation of indecent assault by Mr Lillie on [Child 19]. She was born on 7 February 1990 and was in the Red Room from September 1992 until January 1993. She was examined by Dr. Alison Steele on 6 August 1993, when non-specific findings were made (albeit not inconsistent with some degree of trauma). Her video interview took place on 10 August 1993, with a follow up on 2 November 1993. Thus she was three and half years old when interviewed.
  42. Counts 10 and 11 related to [Child 2] and consisted of one charge of indecent assault by Mr Lillie and one by Miss Reed. The child was born on 2 September 1989 and was a member of the Red Room from early 1992 until September of that year. The first video interview took place on 22 July and the second on 1 December 1993. She was examined by Dr. San Lazaro on 13 August 1993, who found no significant abnormality.
  43. Having reviewed the charges against Mr Lillie and Miss Reed and summarised the various ages of the alleged victims, the learned Judge made three introductory observations:
  44. (1) With the possible exception of [Child 2], no child had made any contemporaneous complaint. Moreover, so far as Child 2 was concerned, having regard to the terms of what she had said, no action was taken at the time.
    (2) It was conceded by the Crown that it was impossible, by way of a process of elimination, to prove of any child in respect of whom physical damage was found that access and opportunity to inflict such damage were confined to Mr Lillie and Miss Reed.
    (3) Save to the extent that physical findings corroborated the allegation of physical interference (in some cases), and save to the extent that one child could provide "similar fact" support for one or more of the other children, there was no corroboration of the allegations of wrongdoing. Indeed, his Lordship added, to the extent that the children had provided detail as to venue, and as to the circumstances of various alleged incidents, no support had emerged for their contentions (despite extensive police enquiries). Thus, there would be insufficient evidence to prosecute without evidence from at least one child, and preferably more than one.
  45. That was the background against which the Crown, through Mr Aidan Marron Q.C., applied under s.32A of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (inserted by reason of s.54 of the Criminal Justice Act 1991). The Defendants objected to the introduction of the video recordings of the various interviews, and that was the subject of the Judge's ruling. It had been decided to confine consideration, at least initially, to the recordings made by [Child14] and thus to Counts 1 to 3. This was on the basis that if the Crown failed in that instance, then Mr Marron would not try to secure the admission of any of the remaining video recordings. The Judge explained the background to this decision and gave three reasons why it had been decided to focus on that particular child:
  46. a) In a context in which "age is at a premium", she happened to be the oldest girl.
    b) Her allegations were the most serious that had been made (i.e. there was a charge of rape).
    c) There was a limited measure of corroboration for her evidence afforded by the physical findings following medical examination.
  47. His Lordship then identified the consequences that would follow from a ruling in favour of the Crown's application. First, the admitted recordings would have to be played to the jury. Secondly, any statement made by Child 14 would be admissible evidence of any fact which could have been admitted by way of direct oral testimony from her: s.32A (6). Thirdly, the child would then be called by the Crown to give evidence, by way of video link, to supplement her evidence in chief to the limited extent permitted by s.32A (5).
  48. The three video recordings which the learned Judge viewed (as I have done) lasted in total for three hours. It was necessary to bear that in mind because, if cross-examination of Child 14 were to take place, it would plainly have been desirable for her to have had the opportunity of following that footage (in the usual way, concurrently with the jury). She would need to have it in mind as the necessary point of reference to understand the questions she was likely to be asked.
  49. In addressing the exercise of the court's discretion, the learned Judge asked himself first, "Does such statement [or statements] serve to provide admissible evidence of fact that could have been the subject of admissible, direct oral testimony by [Child 14]?"
  50. It was necessary for him, assuming that he concluded that a statement or statements could be classified as prima facie admissible, to address three separate concerns:
  51. i) Was he satisfied that Child 14 was available for cross-examination?
    ii) Was he satisfied that any rules of court requiring disclosure of the circumstances in which the relevant recordings were made had been complied with?
    iii) Were the circumstances of the case such that, in the interests of justice, all or part of the recordings should be excluded?
  52. His Lordship then turned to consider the matter of admissibility with regard to any statement or statements the child might have made. He bore in mind, in particular, the opinion of the Privy Council in Noor Mohamed v. The King [1949] A.C. 182, 192, and the statutory reflection of those same considerations of policy as later embodied in s.78(1) in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. His Lordship then considered whether any statement or statements could be said to be discernible within each of the relevant video tapes. As to the first (4 October 1993), he concluded that there were three discernible propositions, each qualifying as a "statement":
  53. i) Mr Lillie exposed himself to her in the toilets of the Nursery in the course of an indecent assault carried out by him on another little girl [who plays no direct part in the present libel proceedings but was known as Child 35].
    ii) Miss Reed had done nothing at all to her.
    iii) Child 14, Mr Lillie, Miss Reed and a woman called Moira (apparently another member of staff) had been to Mr Lillie's house by bus.
  54. As to the second video tape (13 October 1993), the learned Judge found again three propositions which qualified:
  55. i) Mr Lillie had put a needle into her bottom (which, in this context, the Judge took to mean her vagina) and also into the other little girl.
    ii) Miss Reed had also put a needle into her bottom and that of the other girl.
    iii) All of these events had taken place in the Nursery toilet.
  56. Returning to the third video (22 October 1993) the Judge extracted the following "statements":
  57. i) Mr Lillie had acted indecently towards her (initially), and then (finally) had raped her in the toilet of the Nursery.
    ii) Miss Reed had done nothing to her.
    iii) Child 14, Mr Lillie, Miss Reed and a woman called Amanda (understood to be another member of staff) had been to Mr Lillie's house (this time by train), where Mr Lillie was seen to be in bed with a lady called Doreen.
  58. The Judge began his consideration of admissibility by addressing the Crown's case against Miss Reed. He then gave the following important ruling:
  59. "… I do not regard any of the statement[s] as set out by me, as disclosed by the recordings, potentially probative of anything at all against Miss Reed. It affords, in my judgment, no evidence upon which any reasonable jury could convict her upon Count 3.
    It is true that the second video includes a description to the indecent assault by Miss Reed that is relied upon, but the first and [third] videos include, effectively, total exculpation of Miss Reed. One of the striking features of both first and [third] videos is the insistence with which [Child 14] seeks to exculpate her, and the fact that she does so upon her own initiative. Indeed, one of the points made by Mr Cosgrove [her counsel] in the course of his cross-examination of WPC Foster and of Mrs Lyon is that nobody picked up and thought to examine, in any way, this piece of initiative on the part of [Child 14].
    The statement would only become potentially probative against Miss Reed if the graphic support for her that is initiated by [Child 14] herself – and that is seen on the videos one and three - is put aside. I can see no basis for doing so. I remind myself that no jury can convict Miss Reed upon Count 3 without being sure and satisfied of her guilt. It is manifest on the evidence of [Child 14] (as disclosed in the statement from the three videos) that there could be no basis upon which they could be sure and satisfied. Indeed, there is a rather better basis for being sure and satisfied that she is innocent of that particular charge. Thus, in dealing with Miss Reed, I have no hesitation in ruling that the Crown's application to adduce that part of the video recordings as making a statement to be relied upon in the furtherance of their prosecution of her fails."
  60. The learned Judge then turned to the case against Mr Lillie. In his judgment, it could not be said, in his case, that the relevant statements lacked any potentially probative effect. A possible interpretation of the tapes was of "… a young victim of sexual abuse slowly overcoming constraints imposed by the abuse and abuser, so as to make a full disclosure in response to sympathetic interviewing and effective reassurance".
  61. His Lordship then went on to make an evaluation of the prejudicial effect so as to balance it against probative weight. He regarded that exercise as being required by the common law, as well as reflecting the exercise of discretion provided for in s.32A (3) of the 1988 Act.
  62. He concluded that the material relating to Mr Lillie could not safely be put before a jury until a full opportunity was afforded for investigation into the history of any complaint. Overwhelming prejudice to Mr Lillie could only be avoided, for example, if there was an opportunity to enquire of the child why nothing he was alleged to have done had been the subject of a contemporaneous complaint by her; why she had made no complaint of assault during her first video interview; why there was no complaint of rape in the second interview; and "above all, as to why the complaint of rape in the third video followed upon an initial cessation of the interview, which cessation had been instigated by her".
  63. The learned Judge added that there was a prospect of overwhelming prejudice to Mr Lillie if it was not possible for inquiries to be made on his behalf, of Child 14 in cross-examination, as to why her accounts had varied with regard to Miss Reed. Moreover, the Judge drew attention to the fact that information supplied by the child about any house or flat would not stand up to further investigation. Police inquiries, in other words, had brought forth no confirmation at all. For that reason, he observed, "Those parts of her account cry out for like inquiry…"
  64. The main difficulty confronting the learned Judge was that there was really no other way of testing her evidence or exploring the inconsistencies, unless cross-examination were to be permitted. There was no other potential source for answering the queries. His Lordship turned next to the statutory pre-condition for admissibility provided for in s.32A(3)(a); that is to say the child's availability for cross-examination. He held that she was not so available on any material matter. She would have to be physically present, willing to answer questions put on Mr Lillie's behalf, and not incompetent; see s.52(2) of the Criminal Justice Act 1991. He added that it was, in his judgment, necessary also for her to have the capacity to give "an intelligible account of events" (a phrase borrowed from an Irish statute: s.27(1) of the Civil Evidence Act 1992).
  65. His Lordship held, without hesitation, that Child 14 did not have the capacity to give an intelligible account of material events at the time when the recording was made (i.e. in October 1993). This was based largely upon his viewing of the three hours of material. While emphasising that his conclusion was in no way intended to reflect upon the child, his Lordship pointed out that her incapacity to give an intelligible account was merely a reflection of her age, of the subject-matter, of its emotional impact upon her, and also of the delay between the events under investigation and the interview itself. In other words, she would be cross-examined almost a year after the original interviews, which were themselves concerned with events which had occurred (if at all) at least 15 months earlier. His Lordship, secondly, saw no reason to conclude that her capacity would be materially improved by the time any cross-examination took place. Since she would not have the attention span necessary to view the three hours of video material concurrently with the jury (as confirmed in evidence by a psychologist), she could not appreciate the necessary premise upon which the line of cross-examination would proceed. Further, and in any event, her 1994 memory for events in 1992 would be "speculative".
  66. His Lordship confirmed that the very same factors which led him to the conclusion that Child 14 was not "available for cross-examination", for the purposes of s.32A(3), would have operated to lead him to the conclusion that the admission of any such statement by her would have a prejudicial effect far outweighing any probative value.
  67. Following Holland J's decision and the direction to acquit, there was apparently a violent outburst of emotion in court, during which the two Claimants were threatened and reviled.
  68. The steps taken by the City Council meanwhile
  69. So far as the City Council was concerned, the acquittals made virtually no difference. One of their representatives, a Mr Flynn who was at that time Deputy Leader, confirmed outside the court that the dismissals still stood and that the Council still regarded them as guilty of "gross misconduct" (i.e. of abusing a number of children in their care, including those in respect of whom they had just been acquitted). Almost immediately, a widespread view took hold that the criminal proceedings had come to a halt as a result of some technicality or inadequacy in the system of justice. Very little attention was paid to the comments of the trial judge as to the state of the evidence; and, in particular, to the remarks made by Child 14 in two of her interviews to the effect that Dawn Reed had done nothing wrong.
  70. It is now necessary for me to address, in a little detail, the steps which had been taken in the meantime by the local authority and the statutory context. The government of the day had, in 1988, issued guidance to local authorities under s.7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970. This was intended to facilitate co-operation between various agencies with a view to effective child protection. The guidance operative at the time of the Shieldfield events was that originally published in 1991. It was published under the title Working Together. Each local authority was required to establish an Area Child Protection Committee (ACPC), composed of representatives from the local authority, the police, the health authority, the probation service and other relevant agencies. One of the purposes underlying the establishment of the Area Child Protection Committees was that they should be preventative. It was also, however, intended that there should be a forum for co-ordinating an efficient response to any perceived incidents of child abuse, as they arose.
  71. There was a meeting under the auspices of the relevant ACPC in Newcastle on 26 May 1993. By that time 14 families had already been seen by social workers. There were further meetings as events developed. There is a procedure laid down by Part 8 of Working Together for reviewing specific cases. There would certainly be an obligation to carry out a Part 8 Review where a child has died in circumstances where abuse is suspected or confirmed. Nevertheless, an ACPC should always consider whether to carry out such a review where there is a child protection issue likely to give rise to major public concern. It was felt that the criteria had been fulfilled in the case of Shieldfield, because it was perceived that the ACPC had a case of multiple abuse on its hands, and a Part 8 Review was set in motion in the autumn of 1993. Once information had been gathered from all the relevant agencies an "overview" report had to be submitted to the Social Services Inspectorate (SSI) within the Department of Health. In the present case the Part 8 overview report took some time to complete, and was not submitted to the SSI until October 1996.
  72. There exists a quite separate regime for dealing with "complaints" from consumers or other members of the public about services provided by a local authority. Relevant provisions are to be found in the Local Authority Social Services (Complaints Procedure) Order 1990 made under s.7B of the 1970 Act. Every local authority is obliged to establish a procedure for considering representations (including complaints) made to it by or on behalf of a "qualifying individual" relating to its social services functions in respect of the individual concerned. A "qualifying individual" is someone for whom the relevant local authority has the power or obligation to provide a service. By reason of the day care obligations arising under s.18 of the Children Act, it was now necessary for the Council to establish a procedure for considering any complaints made by parents/carers with regard to the services at Shieldfield.
  73. It is also provided by s.26 (3) of the Children Act that a procedure should be established when considering any representations (including a complaint) from parents/carers of children "in need" as to the discharge of local authority functions (including the provision of day care under s.18 of the 1989 Act). Thus, one way or another, there was a duty upon the City Council to consider complaints relating to the discharge (or failure to discharge) day care duties with regard to Shieldfield.
  74. The Newcastle City Council had established a Comments and Complaints Policy in 1991 following the model laid down by the Representation Procedures (Children) Regulations 1991 (SI 1991/894).
  75. In 1993 the current procedure was that a complaint should be registered with the Comments and Complaints Unit (part of the Council's Standards and Quality Assurance Division). It would then be for Mr Bob Hassall (the then complaints officer) to appoint an "investigating officer". Normally, that person would be a local authority employee unconnected with the specific matter under investigation. In an ordinary case, the investigating officer should report to the complaints officer within 28 days upon the outcome of his investigation and the appropriate response to the complainant. In the event that the relevant complainant was not satisfied with the response, it would be open for him or her to request the Complaints Review Panel to investigate the complaint. Such a Panel would comprise an independent chairman, a member of the Social Services Committee of the local authority and an Assistant Director or Principal Assistant of the department (not being directly involved).
  76. There was yet a third stage whereby, if the complainant was not satisfied with the recommendation of the Panel to the Director of Social Services, there could be a reference to the Social Services Committee. This three tier complaints structure was in place in 1993 at Newcastle for dealing with complaints made under the 1970 Act or the 1989 Act.
  77. It was recognised that there might be occasions when the standard procedure would be inadequate to the task in hand. In this instance, when the complaints were first made about events at Shieldfield, they were registered for investigation in the normal way. Nevertheless, it soon became apparent that there was the possibility of multiple abuse at the hands of Council employees, and it was thought desirable to set up a procedure tailored for this specific case. By the end of 1993, a firm of local solicitors (David Gray & Co) were acting for a number of the Shieldfield parents and, on 20 December, the City Council notified them that an alternative complaints procedure was being set up to investigate and report on the overall situation, in addition to dealing with individual complaints. This was by means of a letter from Jennifer Bernard, the then Director of Social Services.
  78. At about the same time, it was resolved that there should be an investigation into the multiple abuse allegations by an ad hoc Review Team. The standard complaints procedure was suspended and the solicitors were notified accordingly by Jennifer Bernard on 23 December. By that time some six complaints had been formally registered, although it was appreciated that more would be forthcoming. In effect, what was being proposed was that there should be an inquiry into what had gone wrong, and that recommendations should be made to avoid similar problems in the future, quite apart from specific complaints. It is right to record that it was being contemplated by Jennifer Bernard as early as 3 December 1993 (in a letter to Det. Insp. Findlay of the Northumbria Police) that the Final Report of the proposed complaints review team would be presented to a public meeting of the social services committee.
  79. There is a wide discretion under s.111 of the Local Government Act 1972 to do anything calculated to facilitate the discharge of a local authority's statutory functions. If the circumstances warrant it, a local authority may thus commission and fund a public inquiry (such as that carried out by Mr Peter Hunt following the Jason Dabbs case). It was decided, however, in the Shieldfield case that it would not be appropriate to set up a similar inquiry. This was partly because of what was at that time perceived to be the cost and inherent delay, and partly because it was believed that an "adversarial" procedure would not be in the best interests of the Shieldfield parents or children. It was also considered that people might feel inhibited in a public forum and that accordingly it would be difficult to establish the full facts.
  80. Not surprisingly, however, there was considerable pressure for the hearing to take place in public because, as often on such occasions, there is a fear of a "whitewash" or "cover up". With such considerations in mind, another firm of solicitors made representation to the Secretary of State requesting that a public inquiry be carried out pursuant to s.81 of the Children Act. There would also be the power, if this course were adopted, to compel the attendance of witnesses. This proposal was rejected in August 1994 and then, no doubt reluctantly on the part of some parents, it was decided to accept the City Council's compromise proposal. It was thus resolved that matters would be investigated by a Review Team, independent of the Council, consisting of members qualified and experienced in matters of social work and child protection. Their task would include both responding to complaints made by individuals and reporting, more generally, upon the running of the nursery and upon the way in which the Social Services Department of the local authority had discharged its responsibilities. To avoid charges of "cover up", it was at an early stage perceived to be necessary that individual complainants, and indeed all those directly involved with the events at Shieldfield, should be fully informed as to the outcome of the inquiry. How this was to be achieved was left until the Report became available (much later than originally anticipated).
  81. Although the terms of reference for the Review Team were already being discussed at the end of 1993, they continued to be debated for some time. (I was told that they were not actually finalised until shortly before the Report emerged.) For example, a change was made in September 1996 to enable the Review Team to "consider and report upon relevant concerns raised by parents or persons interviewed", even though this might go outside the notion of dealing with formal "complaints". Another later amendment concerned the machinery for submitting the Report to the City Council. It was specifically provided, in May 1998, that the Report should be submitted to the Council through the Chief Executive (rather than to the Standards Quality and Assurance Division Manager, as would be normal). The reason for this change was that it was perceived as underlining the principle of independence. The terms of reference, as set out in the published report, will be fully identified in due course (see Section 3 below).
  82. For reasons which are perhaps understandable, there was considerable delay setting up the Review Team. The plan was that applicants should be considered by a panel consisting of a chief officer of the Council, a senior medical officer nominated by parents and a project manager for NCH Action for Children (the providers of the Independent Persons Scheme under the Children Act). I understand that there was some delay in the parents choosing their representative on the appointments panel but, in any event, candidates were not interviewed until August 1995.
  83. There was a short list of ten candidates and the panel eventually appointed Dr Richard Barker, who was at that time Head of the Division of Child and Family Studies at the University of Northumbria (Team Leader), Judith Jones, a former child protection officer, Jacqui Saradjian, a consultant clinical psychologist and Roy Wardell, whose experience lay in the provision of social services by local authorities. It was not thought appropriate that any of the members should have had any legal training or experience. Their activities were overseen by representatives from the Independent Persons Scheme.
  84. Between the end of 1995 and the publication of the Report on 12 November 1998, more than 150 witnesses were interviewed by members of the Review Team. It is to be noted that they chose to divide their labours, with the result that not every member of the Team had the opportunity of assessing every witness or, for example, every child interview. They were only working part-time and there were limitations on the resources available to them. There is no doubt that the Team members worked very hard and showed considerable dedication to their task. Mr Bishop suggested, in closing, on behalf of the Review Team that if they had known how much time and effort was going to be involved they would probably have stayed out of it. I am sure they now regret it.
  85. Neither Mr Lillie nor Miss Reed agreed to be interviewed by members of the Review Team although they were invited. They made their respective decisions in accordance with legal advice, and neither felt that they would receive a fair hearing. They did not trust the City Council in the light of the procedures adopted over their dismissals and the remarks made following their acquittals at the Crown Court. Subsequently the Review Team was critical of this "refusal to co-operate", as they perceived it, but in the circumstances the Claimants behaved reasonably. It is one thing not to "co-operate". It may be quite another, however, to be wary of placing one's fate in the hands of individuals who have arrogated to themselves a right or duty to find out whether a citizen has committed serious criminal offences. If such a person would not be afforded any of the basic safeguards which the law has long provided for individuals in jeopardy of such findings, he or she would be fully entitled to regard the process as flawed and unfair. This would be so even if those carrying out the inquiry were open and above-board about their intentions. Here, as I shall describe in due course, they were not.
  86. In the meantime, a number of parents had made claims for criminal injuries compensation and substantial sums of money were paid on the basis that the children concerned had been physically and/or sexually abused by Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed. These claims were supported by Dr Camille San Lazaro, the consultant paediatrician, who played a very significant part in the history of events forming the subject-matter of these proceedings. She was later to admit in the witness box that what she told the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board was (in her words) "exaggerated and overstated".
  87. In due course, no less than 47 children sued the Council for damages for negligence. Although not directly relevant to the present proceedings, some of the witnesses were asked about the stage which those claims had reached. It emerged that some had been settled before the libel hearing started and others not. At all events, the basis of the negligence actions was the same as that of the criminal injuries compensation claims, namely that Mr Lillie and/or Miss Reed had abused the children when they were in the care of the Newcastle City Council at Shieldfield.
  88. Before I come to the publication of the Review Team Report, which forms the primary subject in matter of the present dispute, it is right that I should introduce the Claimants in more detail in the light of the evidence I have received. Hitherto, so far as the citizens of Newcastle are concerned (and, for that matter, the general public), they have remained rather shadowy figures about whom only limited information has been available, either through the content of the Report or through the media. Since some of that has been distorted or is inaccurate, it is appropriate to introduce them by reference to their background and careers up to the point when they are alleged to have committed these very serious offences against children in their care.
  89. Much attention has been focused on their time at Shieldfield, and in particular the period from March 1992 to April 1993 when they were jointly responsible for the children in what was known as the Red Room in the Nursery. Rightly so. Nevertheless, there is a wider context which it is necessary to take into account. For example, there was no suggestion prior to April 1993 that either of them had misbehaved with any child. Nor has there been any suggestion of paedophile activity or indecent assault, or anything similar, having occurred since the time of their suspensions (on 16 April and 12 May 1993 respectively). I therefore now attempt to summarise the wider background of the two Claimants before addressing the allegations made against them.
  90. 2) Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed

    a) Mr Christopher Lillie

  91. Mr Lillie was born on 10 June 1964 in Wallsend. His parents were separated when he was about five years old and, together with his younger brother and two sisters, he went to live with his mother and the man she then married. He described the period with his mother and stepfather as "a happy time".
  92. In May 1977, when Mr Lillie was almost 13, his mother died. At that stage the children went back to live with their natural father, despite not having very much contact with him for about nine years. He had re-married and two children had been born within that marriage. Things did not work out. Mr Lillie and his brother were not happy in the new environment. They began to get into trouble and were, for example, cautioned for shoplifting in August 1979. Mr Lillie also ran away from home for brief periods. Eventually on 6 November 1979 he was put into care, with a placement for two or three months in Clavering House at Blaydon.
  93. In January 1980 he was given a two year supervision order after having pleaded guilty to stealing a bicycle. Thereafter, he was moved to Chalfont Road Children's Home where he remained until September 1981. During this period he was attending Manor Park School in Benton. He took CSE examinations and obtained Grade II passes in Mathematics, Religious Education and Chemistry together with a Grade IV pass in English Language. He left school in May 1980 at the age of 16.
  94. My attention was drawn to page 265 of the Review Team Report in which it is suggested that Mr Lillie had been placed in establishments "…in which it appears staff – both male and female – sexually abused children. He may have been exposed to models of vulnerable children being abused as of right by those with power over them". Mr Lillie's response is that in the two care establishments in which he stayed he never saw or heard of any behaviour of that kind. He was not sexually abused himself; nor was he aware of any such abuse having taken place in those establishments.
  95. I was told that Mr Lillie prospered to an extent in care, gaining in self-confidence and getting on particularly well with one of the members of staff (and her husband). He recalled how they gave him practical help when he moved into a council flat in Newcastle after he became too old for the residential home.
  96. On leaving school, Mr Lillie faced very high unemployment in the Newcastle area and entered some schemes which were being organised through the Job Centre. He worked for several months as a labourer for Community Industry in Heaton, and subsequently as a baker and shop assistant in the Kew House Delicatessen in Eldon Square. He was also, in about 1983-1984, a catering trainee on a youth opportunity programme in Morden Street. Each of these schemes lasted about six months.
  97. During the period 1987–1988 he became an assistant organiser of the Newcastle Children's Adventure Group ("NCAG"). This lasted for about a year. Subsequently, from 1989 to 1991 he was a relief caseworker for the Social Services Department.
  98. Mr Lillie explained the background of his involvement with NCAG, which began in 1979 when he went away on a trip with the group. It was an organisation which provided adventure opportunities for inner city and other disadvantaged people. Because he had admired the work which they were doing for disadvantaged children, he later volunteered in response to a newspaper advertisement. He worked as a volunteer with them from about 1982 during a period of unemployment. He maintained the day to day running of the office and helped to run a summer camp for NCAG, which catered for children between the ages of 6 and 15. They were camping in tents and took part in activities such as canoeing, windsurfing, climbing and walking. He worked at the camp from 1984 to 1989 (with only one exception) and also attended camp in 1991.
  99. He decided that this sort of work suited him and that he had the right temperament for it.
  100. One of the leaders at NCAG had a child who attended a mother and toddler group run by Gosforth Social Services on Thursday mornings. Since they were looking for volunteers, Mr Lillie went along and decided that he wanted to work with that age group. When that group ceased to function through lack of funds after about a year, Mr Lillie then enrolled at the North Tyneside College for a two year course training to be a Nursery Nurse. Not surprisingly, references were required and he was able to name referees with whom he had worked at NCAG.
  101. The nursery training course ran from September 1988 through to the summer of 1990. Again Mr Lillie invited my attention to a passage in the Review Team Report (at page 48) where it is suggested that he had to repeat his final year. This he disputes. They report a Veronica Dawson as stating that his final year did have to be repeated and that he was a "lazy bones". She was described in the Report as being his ex-tutor. In fact, as he points out, she was his tutor for one course only. His overall tutor was a Ms Doreen Bailey who was never interviewed by the Review Team. He accepts that he had some problems on what he describes as the "craft side" (which apparently included such skills as knitting and artwork), and that for those he had little aptitude. His evidence is that, subject to those problems, he worked hard on the course and was motivated to gain his qualification so as to earn a living in nursery work. He referred to the fact that another male student was required to do a third year, and suggested that this may be the source of confusion. At all events, his evidence (which I accept) is that he completed the course in the standard period of two years.
  102. The training course consisted partly of academic study and partly of gaining practical experience. The general pattern was that six days were spent in college and four days on a "placement". It happened that his first placement was at the Shieldfield Nursery. He worked at that stage under the supervision of the then Manager, Susan Eyeington. During the first placement he worked with the age group up to three years for nine days and for 37 days with children of three to five years of age. Miss Eyeington apparently recognised that "progress was necessary" in relation to the preparation and organisation of craft work, but she described him as being good at establishing relationships with children and as being aware of each child's individual needs. So far as she was concerned, he behaved appropriately towards the children and was pleasant and good humoured in his relations with other staff. She also commented that he showed perseverance and commitment to his work.
  103. Other placements during his training included work at Raby Street School, Dunston Nursery School, Ashleigh Special School and Monkseaton First School. There was also a "home placement" between January and March 1990 where he was responsible for looking after a baby and a two year old.
  104. Mr Lillie found that the work suited him and he considered that he was getting on well at Shieldfield. He decided that this would be the right career for him, despite a certain amount of 'general prejudice' to the effect that nursery work should remain a field for women rather than men.
  105. Mr Lillie worked as a relief worker at Shieldfield between May and June 1989, for about eight days, to help with money for completing his course. He did the same at Armstrong Road Nursery between 24 July and 20 August 1989 and also for a week at a children's special needs home. Subsequently he also did a few weekends at various homes for the aged. He accepts too, although he does not have any particular recollection of it, that he is recorded as having worked for a total of five afternoons at Shieldfield between October 1989 and January 1990.
  106. As he came towards the end of his two year course, he worked at Shieldfield again in May 1990 so as to cover for Maria Buck, who took maternity leave. Between September and October of the same year he worked at Dunstanburgh Road Nursery as a relief worker. At the stage when he left Shieldfield for Dunstanburgh Road, he received a card from some of the parents at Shieldfield expressing good wishes and saying that he would be missed. One of them was apparently the mother of the girl referred to in this case as Child 14.
  107. Just before Maria Buck returned from her leave, another member of staff, Diane Wood, also left for maternity leave and Mr Lillie covered for her as well. He stayed on in a temporary capacity until June 1991. During that summer he did a six week adventure camp with NCAG in Northumberland (and subsequently went on a two week canoeing trip to Norway with two of the NCAG leaders).
  108. In September 1991 at the invitation of Susan Eyeington Mr Lillie returned to Shieldfield as a full time temporary nursery officer and remained until he was offered a permanent post there, following the standard interview procedure, in April 1992. (Mr Lillie wished to emphasise that he did not lie in any way in order to be taken on at Shieldfield, since he construes page 47 of the Review Team Report as suggesting that he may have done so.) For almost exactly a year Mr Lillie remained on the staff at Shieldfield, leaving abruptly upon his suspension on 16 April 1993.
  109. b) Miss Dawn Reed

  110. Dawn Reed was born in South Shields on 20 December 1970, her mother at that time being aged about 18. Her mother was the second of eight children born to her grandparents. The youngest of her aunts was only seven when Dawn Reed was born. She was brought up by her mother in her grandparents' home with her aunts. She explained in the course of evidence that she has never referred to her mother's sisters as "aunts" because, in a sense, they were more like sisters to her. Her mother took the responsibility of looking after her throughout her childhood and did not go out to work until such time as she was old enough to look after herself. She has only ever met her father on one occasion when she was about 19 years of age (i.e. in or about 1989 – 1990). She knows very little about him but understands that his family came from Pakistan, although she does not actually know where he was born.
  111. She was keen to make it clear that she was part of a "very large, loving and caring family" and that she had a very happy childhood. Her grandfather, who has since died, was a very proud man who was a former coal-miner. She has said in her statement that there was no time when she was deprived of love, affection or attention. The reason she wished to make this clear was that in the Review Team Report (page 61) the observation is made that "… she had a troubled background and lived with her grandparents for much of her childhood". Miss Reed told me that her background was not in the least bit "troubled". (She was also rather puzzled by a comment in the Report, at page 89, that "... We have been told that Dawn Reed's ethnicity was not considered with regard to its impact on her as a worker or on the nursery". She has no idea why the issue was raised in the Report, since she has never been conscious of any problems of "ethnicity" at all.)
  112. One of the experts called on behalf of the Defendants, Dr William Friedrich, describes her as having grown up with a single parent and a number of "alternate caregivers". He says that she was therefore "at risk for maltreatment even sexual maltreatment". That is speculation. Miss Reed and her mother gave evidence on oath and made clear there were no such problems. One of the recurring features of this case has been the willingness of psychologists, professional or amateur, to impose pre-conceived stereotypes or theories upon the facts of the case. I have had to remind myself that evidence must always come first and theory kept in its proper place.
  113. At the time of the trial, Miss Reed was half way through a University law course and apparently doing very well. On this basis, it was put to her in cross-examination by Mr Bishop that she must have under-performed at school, in the sense that she left in July 1987 (aged 16) with only one GCE qualification and several CSE passes. As she accepted, it has subsequently emerged that she has greater capacity and application than this would suggest. Asked for an explanation, she told him that she "fell in love" when she met her future (now former) husband. She spent a lot of time with him and generally enjoying herself, rather than applying herself to her studies.
  114. In 1990, when 20 years of age, Miss Reed bought a house with her then boyfriend and moved out of her grandparents' home. They lived together throughout her time at the Shieldfield Nursery and eventually married in November 1994, a few months after the termination of the criminal proceedings. The marriage lasted for approximately five years, when they split up and divorced. The main reason for this, she explained, was that they were unable to cope with the pressures and emotional turmoil caused by the "lead up to the Report, its publication and its aftermath".
  115. Meanwhile, before she left school, Miss Reed had already decided she wished to qualify as a nursery nurse. She chose to go to North Tyneside College in order to train, and began a two year course in September 1987.
  116. Miss Reed had a number of outside interests from an early age. She had been active in the Brownies from the age of seven, with one of her friends, and later progressed to the Girl Guides. She was the first Girl Guide locally to achieve the Baden Powell Trefoyle badge, which was apparently introduced shortly beforehand as a replacement for the Queen's Guide Award. This was the highest distinction available in the Girl Guides.
  117. Miss Reed also regularly attended Sunday School in South Shields, when she was small, and later helped in running it by carrying out activities with the children, reading bible stories, creating pictures and making Christmas cards. She was looking after children from the age of seven upwards. The lady who was responsible for the Sunday School at that time was Miss Hazel Singleton, who noticed that she appeared to be "very good with children" and suggested that she might think about becoming a nursery nurse.
  118. In due course, Miss Reed trained for a Young Leader's Certificate to enable her to take on a supervisory role in the Girl Guides. She qualified to serve as a Guide Leader at St John's Church. Shortly thereafter she gave this interest up for other things; in particular, she wanted to spend more time with her boyfriend and enjoying social activities. She also had begun to do night classes to achieve an A-level in Sociology. While Miss Reed was at North Tyneside College (1987–1989), she continued to live at home with her grandparents. Like Mr Lillie, she divided her time at college between studying and placements. Her courses included child development, child psychology, social studies, health, biology, education, communications, craft, physical education, music and computer awareness.
  119. She also set out in her evidence details of the various placements she obtained during her course.
  120. She spent 29 days with five to six year olds at the West Jesmond Infants' School. She also did a home placement as a nanny for 22 days in Jesmond. This was clearly satisfactory as the mother concerned also employed her during summer holidays to look after her four children. At the time, these comprised three girls of eight, three and two years old, respectively, and a baby boy.
  121. Miss Reed spent 16 days at the Ingham Infirmary Children's Ward in South Shields with children up to about five years of age. Then there were 58 days spent at Raby Street Primary School with three to four year olds. There were also 14 days at Ashley Special School, North Shields, with children and young people up to the age of 18. This was a difficult placement from her point of view, as it involved dealing with various age groups where all concerned, in effect, had the minds of young children.
  122. When she was 18, Miss Reed did 26 days at Shieldfield with two to four year olds.
  123. She told me that all the reports in respect of her placements were positive and drew my attention to the terms of the final report dated 16 June 1989:
  124. "Dawn has continued to show the capabilities noted during her first year. She proves to be very much a part of any team she works with and has equally good relationships with children and staff. She has a quietly confident, caring manner with children and is very perceptive of their needs. She carries out duties reliably and without constant direction, although if unsure always has the confidence to clarify matters with staff. Activities have been planned and carried out with children, showing great adaptability and these are always displayed attractively when completed.
    Two of her great strengths are her awareness of the needs of children, especially those with problems and the other is her appropriate handling of parents.
    She has been an excellent student in all her placements, resulting in her gaining employment in the family centre where she spent a term".
  125. She applied for a temporary Nursery Assistant post at Shieldfield, which was advertised by Newcastle Social Services Department, and was appointed on 19 June 1989 subject to passing her examination. The post was duly confirmed. In the light of subsequent events, it is to be noted that on 8 July 1989 she received confirmation that the Department had received a satisfactory police report on her.
  126. A six month probationary period was completed without any problems and in early 1990 she applied for a permanent post. She was interviewed on 13 March 1990 and appointed with effect from 19 March 1990. She was upgraded 18 months later to Nursery Officer with a corresponding pay increase.
  127. Until the events of April 1993, there had been nothing to suggest to parents or colleagues that Miss Reed was in any way behaving cruelly or improperly towards children in her care. Nor had anyone noticed anything about the relationship between her and Mr Lillie to suggest that they were anything other than work colleagues. There is no doubt that, for one reason or another, perceptions changed among some parents and colleagues as the months passed and it came to be accepted as received wisdom that multiple abuse had been taking place on a massive scale from 1991 to 1993.
  128. It is, therefore, instructive to reflect on one example of the contemporaneous reaction of her colleagues. On 2 June 1993, Diane Wood was interviewed by Joyce Eyeington and Mr Mike Godridge (Assistant Director, Residential and Day Care) in the presence of Mr Kevin Hattam. I was supplied with a transcript. She answered "categorically no" to questions as to whether she had ever seen Miss Reed smack Child 22 or any other child or use inappropriate language. Shortly before the interview terminated, she was asked by Mr Mike Godridge for her impression of Miss Reed as a colleague. She replied as follows:
  129. "I have known Dawn since she was a student. Goodness knows how long that must be now. I can't think how long it is, but she got the job to work in the parents' room which, in those days, was a very hard job. I always admired her for her youth and her age to be able to go into a situation like that and cope very well with it.
    I have worked with her myself. She had covered the room that I've been in on several occasions, when a member of staff has been on the sick, and I have always got on very well with her. She is a very unassuming person. She is a very personable type woman (and I say 'woman' because she is not a girl anymore) and I like her an awful lot. To have to listen to what has been said – even the slightest thought of an allegation against her I find totally and utterly ludicrous, because she is such a very, very nice girl – woman I should say – and I hope this doesn't do her career prospects a downer, because as nursery nurses go she has got a lot more patience with younger ones that I ever, ever had. And I have done that job and, yes, I got a lot out of that job, but probably not as much as Dawn's got out of the job with the [two to three year olds]. She has got the right personality for it. She is calm, she is cool, she is quiet, she is unassuming. I have a lot of children in my room who have been with Dawn, who are asking now, bit by bit, 'Where's Dawn? I haven't seen Dawn for a long time. I like Dawn. 'She's nice'. Not being pushed or pressured by me, or any other member of staff to say those things. So in those respects Dawn is a very nice woman, and I miss her – miss her a lot, and I think we have a lost a very, very valuable member of staff".
  130. On 27 May 2002, Diane Wood gave evidence briefly before me. There is no doubt that her perception changed some time later. She told me that what came like a "bombshell" to her, in about October 1993, was when she learnt that the mother of one child in particular [Child 10] had begun to make allegations. Previously, she too had been supportive of Dawn Reed, and indeed wrote a letter of support to her when allegations began to be made. It seems to have been the fact that this mother had changed her mind that persuaded Diane Wood to change her own view. I need say no more about this for the moment (and the evidence in relation to Child 10 is considered in further detail later in the appropriate place), but in setting out the background prior to the events of April and May 1993, I believe it is worth noting the impression she was making on the colleagues with whom she had worked by that time for several years.
  131. 3) The Review Team's Report published on 12 November 1998

  132. The Review Team's report was eventually published on 12 November 1998.
  133. Central conclusions with regard to the Claimants were as follows:
  134. Children were hurt, they were hurt involving sexual acts, they were hurt both in the nursery and when they were taken out to other places, some of which were houses, flats and caravans. They were told that some of those places were libraries or Chris Lillie's home, sometimes other people were present and involved in the hurting, sometimes videos and photographs were taken of them, that the children were very frightened and many were most certainly traumatised by their experiences ( p.224).
    That Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed, sometimes in conjunction with other people outside the nursery participated in sexual acts with children at times involved them in the making of illegal child pornography (p.228).
    That Chris Lillie also regularly abused children acting alone both inside and outside the nursery. These sexual assaults took place in various places within the nursery, in particular in the toilets adjacent to the Red Room (ibid.).
    In addition, the children were physically and emotionally abused both inside and outside the nursery by Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie in order to attempt to ensure the children's compliance and prevent disclosure of the abuses (ibid.).
    There appeared to be a possibility that [the Claimants] had covered their abuse of the children by recording fictional accidents in the Nursery Records for the purpose of disguising either the physical signs of abuse or distress caused thereby (p.244).
    From the evidence we have seen, it is clear that Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed had conspired as a pair to abuse children and it is also clear that people outside the nursery were also involved (p.264).
  135. On 6 November 1998, it appears that three advance copies of the Report were sent from the printers to the Chief Executive of the City Council and one copy to the Social Services Inspectorate of the Department of Health.
  136. On 9 November, a further copy of the Report was supplied to the City Council so that it could be forwarded to the parents of one child, who were by that time in New Zealand. It was accompanied by a letter from the Review Team responding to her parents' particular complaints.
  137. On the publication date, 12 November 1998, the Report was placed before a meeting of the Council's Day Nursery Complaints Review Panel (a sub-committee of the Policy and Resources Committee). Copies were supplied not only to members of that sub-committee but also to any members of the press and other persons attending who wished to have one.
  138. On the same day, the City Council also distributed it by post, courier or by other means to complainants, parents, solicitors and other persons who were perceived as having a legitimate interest in its contents. The Review Team's individual letters generally accompanied the copies of the Report supplied to the complainants.
  139. It appears that the City Council was responsible overall for the distribution of 743 copies of the Report. The circumstances of publication will have to be considered carefully, category by category, when I come to address the arguments on statutory and common law qualified privilege. At all events, the impact of publication was immediate and devastating. It received massive publicity throughout the jurisdiction and, of course, particularly within the Newcastle area. That is hardly surprising. The subject matter of the report was of great interest to the public and the conclusions were striking and a source of great anxiety not only for the parents concerned in this case but also for parents of small children generally.
  140. The Report has come under wholesale attack in the course of these proceedings from the Claimants, their legal representatives and expert witnesses. Their criticisms, however, were by no means the first.
  141. Shortly after publication, the eminent leading counsel who had appeared in the criminal proceedings (Mr Patrick Cosgrove Q.C. for Miss Reed and Mr Aidan Marron Q.C. for the Crown) penned a letter to the Chief Executive of the City Council making plain their concerns over what they considered to be a travesty. Their letter was in the following terms:
    Thank you for sending me two copies of the above report. The second I have passed on to Aidan Marron Q.C., who was Leading Counsel for the Crown in the criminal trial of Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed.
    Although I was Leading Counsel for Miss Reed in that trial, I have no continuing professional interest. My continuing interest is in helping to ensure that we can all learn from this case how best to improve the course of justice.
    Rightly, there has been much praise of many of the people who were involved in the criminal investigation, such as police officers and social workers. They and others, such as the lawyers in the case, were edging forward in trying to improve their understanding and abilities in these difficult matters. No-one can doubt that the objectives are (a) to protect children, and (b) to do justice by all parties.
    I could not agree more with the observation made at the beginning of the Report (page i), namely that: "Given the proposed massive expansion nationally of day care provision in early years settings this case raises important lessons for consideration in relation to the delivery of services to young children outside their families."
    It is tragic, therefore, that the Review Team has laboured for so long only to bring forward a report that is fundamentally flawed.
    Both academic literature and forensic experience indicate that justice has been hindered by incorrect prejudices that sexual abuse doesn't happen in the family, or isn't committed by natural parents, or by women generally, or by a mother, or by caring professionals outside the home. Our increased understanding leads most of us to reject any such prejudices.
    Modern prejudices are more likely to be twofold. At one extreme is the prejudgment that complaints of sexual abuse are likely to be the creation of some form of false memory syndrome. At the other extreme is the prejudgment that sexual abuse once suspected is present, and the only difficulty is in obtaining the evidence to prove it.
    The Report's authors implicitly criticise unsolicited correspondents who fall into the trap of the former. There is considerable evidence throughout the Report that they themselves have fallen into the latter prejudgment.
    The only safe approach is to keep an open mind in each case, to approach the evidence as objectively as possible in order to discover what it shows. In a free society that is the function of a Court, not the function of investigators, nor of persons with a therapeutic responsibility, nor of teams like the authors of the Report.
    It is clear that Professor Davies (see the first paragraph of Appendix 6) has had sight of the Ruling of Mr Justice Holland in the criminal trial, given on 13th July 1994, but it is not clear whether the authors of the Report have read it.
    If they have not done so, they have been grossly negligent. If they have read it, their conduct is disgraceful. Nowhere in the Report is there sufficient reference to the Ruling. That fact and the way in which the Report deals with the issues also dealt with in the Ruling lead to the inevitable misleading, even deception of the Report's readers.
    It should be remembered that Mr Justice Holland delivered his judgment after careful consideration of the evidence.
    The Crown Prosecution Service, no doubt acting on the advice of the police and of counsel, brought forward an indictment based on the six best cases (all of them involving Mr Lillie and four of them involving Miss Reed) from the point of view of the prosecution. No-one, to my knowledge, has questioned the industry or judgment of the prosecution in this case.
    Of those six, one complainant (identified in the Report as Child F [now Child 14]) was taken as a 'test case' for preliminary submissions. The details of how this was done are set out clearly in Mr Justice Holland's Ruling. The Report's authors, to be fair, (see pages 148, 225 and 277) also appear to identify this young girl as providing the best evidence in the case.
    It is helpful, at this stage, to set out what Mr Justice Holland said about this child's evidence. In the following quotation I have quoted the Judge verbatim, except that I have substituted 'Child F' for the girl's real name. The passage is to be found at pages 17 and 18 of the Ruling.
    'It is convenient to start with the Crown's case against Miss Reed. As to this I do not regard any of the statement as set out by me, as disclosed by the recordings, potentially probative of anything at all against Miss Reed. It affords, in my judgment, no evidence upon which any reasonable jury could convict her upon Count 3.'
    They should pause in their righteousness and consider these questions. What if Child F is correct? What if Miss Reed is wholly innocent of any abuse? They have purported to find her guilty of a most serious criminal offence, and have done so in direct contravention of their terms of reference (see below), for which there can be no excuse.
    Sexual abuse of children is horrendous. Few things approach it for awfulness. One that does is to be wrongly accused of it. There is no justice for abused children if a wrong person is accused, condemned, convicted and punished.
    We do not need to look to America, to the Kelly Michaels case, for examples of how people can be falsely accused. Close to home there is the 'Bishop Auckland satanic abuse case', for example. And we need look no further than Cleveland to see how misplaced zeal can cause a counter-reaction, and confuse the cause of protection of children.
    It may be that the Report's authors will claim that they could not refer to the Judge's Ruling because of their Terms of Reference, particularly term 1A (at page 5): "it should be noted, however, that the Review cannot make any finding on matters dealt with by the Criminal Court". If so, that claim would be specious.
    In apparent disobedience of that term of reference, the Report does make findings on matters dealt with by the Crown Court, and does so in direct contradiction to the findings made by the Court, although the Report's authors do not have the candour to draw that to the attention of their readers. A classic example is to be found at page 148.
    During September a child who had previously been at the nursery began to disclose abuse by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed. The child, Child F, was medically examined and clear physical evidence of sexual abuse followed. Over three video interviews, she detailed abuse of herself and other children by Chris Lillie, to a lesser extent by Dawn Reed, and she also mentioned other nursery staff's names. Her testimony in these videos, which we have seen, is extremely powerful and provided persuasive evidence of her abuse in the nursery and elsewhere.
    In at least one other respect there is a material contradiction between the conclusions drawn by Mr Justice Holland and the Report's authors, and, once again, they do not draw it to the attention of their readers. This concerns the existence or otherwise of any corroborative evidence. I quote (again verbatim) from page 8 of the Judge's ruling.
    "… save to the extent that the physical findings corroborate the fact of physical interference in the case of certain of the children and save to the extent that one child might provide 'similar fact' support for one or more of the other children, there is no corroboration of the allegations that are made. Indeed, to the extent that the children have provided detail as to venue and as to the circumstances of various incidents, no support has emerged for their contentions, despite extensive enquiries to see whether any corroborative evidence is available."
    The Learned Judge also gives significant details of the ages of the six 'indictment children', at various stages. Had they been included in the report, which they weren't, readers would have been able to make their own assessments in the light of the valuable research reviews contributed by Professors Bull and Davies.
    "It is true that the second video includes a description of the indecent assault by Miss Reed that is relied upon, but the first and second videos include, effectively, total exculpation of Miss Reed. One of the striking features of both the first and second videos is the insistence with which [Child F] seeks to exculpate her, and the fact that she does so upon her own initiative. Indeed, one of the points made by Mr Cosgrove in the course of his cross examination of WPC Foster and Mrs Lyon is that nobody picked up and sought to examine, in any way, this piece of initiative on the part of [Child F].
    "The statement would only become potentially probative against Miss Reed if the graphic support for her that was initiated by [Child F] herself – and that is seen on videos one and three – is put aside. I can see no basis for doing so. I remind myself that no jury can convict Miss Reed upon count 3 without being sure and satisfied of her guilt. It is manifest on the evidence of [Child F] (as disclosed in the statement from the tree videos) that there could be no basis upon which they could be sure and satisfied. Indeed, there is a rather better basis for being sure and satisfied that she is innocent of that particular charge.
    "Thus, in dealing with Miss Reed, I have no hesitation in ruling that Crown's application to adduce that part of the video recordings as making a statement to be relied upon in the furtherance of their prosecution of her fails."
    It may be that the Learned Judge made a slip of the tongue in the second paragraph quoted, and that he meant to refer to the first and third, not the first and second, videos. I rely on my memory for that, and I may be wrong.
    In any event, in twenty two years of practice at the bar I have never heard a High Court Judge be so emphatic in an expressed view that the evidence pointed to someone's innocence, as opposed to it being insufficient to prove his or her guilt.
    During the course of the criminal trial, there were groups of people outside the Court protesting on behalf of the children. They had placards saying things like "We believe the kids". On this point at least, Mr Justice Holland believed Child F. Why are others so reluctant so to do?
    The Report gives the clear and unequivocal impression that the criminal case against both Defendants collapsed only because of the difficulties in getting children's evidence admitted in criminal trials, and that, as a result, two guilty paedophiles have wrongly gone free. The final paragraph of the body of the Report (page 303) is an example of this:
    "Like many of the professionals who we have interviewed we share the distress of parents that the Shieldfield children were not able in the end to receive justice. We find that there was a failure of the adult world to provide the processes, systems and environment to ensure that child victims of assault are not disadvantaged and are regarded as being as entitled to justice as adults."
    Yet we can see from Mr Justice Holland's Ruling that the primary reason why the not guilty verdict was entered against Miss Reed was that the evidence of the child pointed to her innocence. Why have the Report's authors hidden that from their readers? Why have they deceived them into thinking otherwise? Why have they misled opinion formers and policy makers like the Council and Members of Parliament? Why have they fed the feeding frenzy of the tabloid press?
    There are other elements of the Report which give rise to concern, but the ones canvassed above are particularly grave. The flaws are such that they must bring the reliability and integrity of the whole of the Report into dispute. This is a great pity, as it may well be that many of its insights and judgments have value. It would be a mistake to place reliance upon it, however, as (to adapt a line of the Report at page 130): "Thus, if the [authors] were wrong with one thing they could be wrong and unreliable about everything else".
    It would be wrong to pretend that any one of us has the answers to what happened, and what went wrong. That is why people were looking forward to the publication of the Report in the hope that it would give an indication of the best way forward. It is a matter of great disappointment that it does not.
    What the Report does highlight is how many of the problems are not to do with the children or their accuracy or reliability, but with the adults, not least in their interpretation of what the child is trying to say. It is clear that the interpretation is not always as objective as the children and those caring for them have a right to expect.
    One further area is of continuing concern. The parents of the children have suffered much anguish. The Report finds that children were subject to abuse by a paedophile group and were filmed for pornographic purposes. Given the other flaws in the Report, it would be foolish to rely upon these findings. They may or may not be true. If not true, the authors of the Report are guilty of unnecessarily causing yet more pain to the parents.
    It is to be hoped that such a dangerous document does not have a lasting influence.
    I appreciate that the Council is now in an impossible position, having agreed to publish the Report without any amendments. I do ask, however, that a copy of Mr Justice Holland's Ruling (amended only by removing identification of the children) be appended to every copy of the Report that is published or distributed. In this way, readers will have a more balanced picture.
    I have yet to decide to whom I will send a copy of this letter, but I would be grateful if you would draw it to the attention, at least, of the appropriate chief officers, the chairs of the relevant committees and to the Leader of the Council.
    Within the constraints of time, I would be willing to expand upon any of the points raised, preferably in a face to face meeting."
    It was signed by both leaders.
  143. Moreover, one of the City Council's officers, Mr Tom Dervin (Director of Social Services), expressed his own serious reservations about the content of the Report in no uncertain terms in a letter addressed to the Council Leader, the Chief Executive and the Chairman of the Social Services Committee on 22 January 1999:
  144. "…I have spent many hours examining and evaluating the information in the Report and in the complaints, and I feel I must offer you my objective opinion on both of them.
    In the context of equivalent major inquiry reports this to me is without exception the worst I have read. I mean the worst in terms of quality of information, consistency, judgment, evaluation etc. I think we should be beginning to find a position statement which allows us to accept the report without attributing any significant status to it…..
    With regard to the Inquiry Team's responses to the individual complaints, I have the following observations:-
    1. Similar complaints received from a number of parents were given different answers by the Team.
    2. Some comments by parents were turned into complaints when it was not necessary to do so.
    3. Some complaints were given responses even though the complaints were not recorded.
    4. Some complaints were sustained when the reply had clearly shown that they couldn't be sustained.
    5. Some complaints were not sustained but the Review Team merely introduced a parallel issue and turned that into a sustained complaint instead.
    6. The Review Team said it couldn't comment on police matters and then proceeded to do just that.
    7. Many parents made general statements about child care, or staff, or the nursery; these were not answered directly but turned into an opportunity for critical analysis.
    My off the record conclusion:
    I am certain that children received very poor care at the Shieldfield nursery and I do believe that various forms of abuse and ill treatment took place there. What concerns me in the analysis by the Team however is that they don't evaluate the whole disorganised and haphazard way things appear to have happened.
    The context is one where all the symptoms are overt, e.g. the missing clothes, parents turning up for their children and nobody knowing where they are, children showing symptoms of inappropriate regression and so forth. The clear impression given is that Lillie and Reed were among the most disorganised and chaotic abusers in the history of child care, an unusual feature of abusive personalities."
    Mr Dervin gave evidence about this letter before me and I address that in due course (section 15 below).
  145. The Report itself cannot be reproduced in this judgment and inevitably it is necessary to resort to summaries or extracts whenever addressing criticisms. This naturally gives rise to a risk of unfairness of which I am only too conscious. Those passages selected for complaint by the Claimants as being defamatory are set out in full at Section 5 below.
  146. The criticisms levelled at the Report on behalf of the Claimants are essentially of inaccuracy, bias and (specifically in the context of malice) deliberate misrepresentation.
  147. With the benefit of hindsight, it is indeed possible to identify a number of inaccuracies in the content of the report. Those are considered later (see sections 12 and 13).
  148. I turn next to the allegations of bias. The Review Team considered it part of their responsibilities to enquire into the allegations of multiple child abuse and to arrive at conclusions which were tantamount to findings of guilt of rape, indecent assault and other offences (such as would probably have justified life sentences had the conclusions been reached in a criminal court). Whether this was appropriate at all is a question I shall consider in due course, but it surely goes without saying that anyone taking on such a task has to approach it with fairness and act in accordance with the principles of natural justice.
  149. The four members of the Review Team were appointed from outside the City Council because it was regarded as necessary to ensure that the modified complaints procedure, which it was intended they would implement, should be, and be seen to be, independent of the Council itself. Commendable though this idea was in general terms, the Claimants and their advisers have always been troubled by the premises or pre-conceptions upon which they were appointed. The members of the Review Team applied to the City Council to be considered for the task and were interviewed for that purpose. As Councillor Flynn frankly admitted when the Report was published, "We commissioned this report with [the] firm belief in what the children told us and we continue to hold this belief. Our top priority was for the children, parents and carers...…" The Review Team's task, in that context, was to conduct a review of the complaints made relating to the Shieldfield Nursery and specifically those of the parents. It is necessary, however, to have regard more fully to the vexed question of their terms of reference. I was told that these presented something of a moving target and were not actually finalised until shortly before publication. In a later section of this judgment I shall need to try to identify the precise scope of the Terms of Reference, to construe them in the context of a plea of qualified privilege and make an assessment of how important they were in the developing events with which I am concerned. For the moment, however, I shall merely attempt to set the scene.
  150. In the final Report, as published, the Terms of Reference were identified as follows:
  151. A. The investigation of specific complaints made by parents. It should be noted, however, that the Review can not make any finding on matters dealt with by the Criminal Court.
    B. Consider and report upon relevant concerns raised by parents or person interviewed.
    C. A review of recruitment, selection and vetting procedures as they relate to Social Services Nurseries in general and the relevant day nursery in particular.
    D. An investigation into how an alleged abusive situation may have developed and whether or how it may have continued over a period of time without detection.
    E. A review of the way that the Social Services Department managed the post disclosure investigation, including Social Services' contribution to inter-agency collaborative working arrangements under Part 8, Working Together, and as outlined in Newcastle Area Child Protection Committee Procedural Manual.
    F. A review of the Department's response to parents' concerns once the allegations of abuse were made, including the continuing safety and welfare of children and babies still attending the nursery.
    G. To formulate appropriate conclusions and recommendations.
    There then followed instructions as to how the investigation was to be conducted:
    a) The Complaints Review Team will be provided with accommodation located outside of the Civic Centre and secretarial/typing support.
    b) As the Team is being established under amended Complaints Procedures, it will not hear or take evidence in public. Team Members, accompanied as appropriate by an Independent Person from NCH, will visit all complainants and other interested parties in their own homes or other meeting place where evidential statements will be taken. All parties volunteering evidence may have a friend/advocate, legal or trade union representative present.
    c) All statements will be returned in typed format to the complainants or other persons or their representatives for them to check accuracy. Any additional information or evidence which an individual wishes to give outside of the formal interview should be added to the typed text in writing and clearly indicated as such.
    d) With the author's agreement, these statements may be published as part of the final Report.
    e) The Complaints Review Team as proposed is not an inter-agency or multi-agency collaborative venture, and as such, records and documentation belonging to third parties, e.g. health, police etc., have not been made available to the Team. Social Services Department records relevant to the Terms of Reference and subject to any public interest immunity issue will be made available to the Complaints Review Team. In addition, publication of certain material may need to be restricted until the final outcome of any criminal or civil cases relating to this particular nursery. Further, and again subject to their relevance to the Terms of Reference and any public interest immunity issue, individuals' personal files and other confidential person records, though open to scrutiny as appropriate by the Team, will not be available for publication.
    f) The Local Authority will fund the costs of legal representation for parents as stated in the attached Schedule.
    g) As part of the process of evidence, parents will be enabled to discuss with Members of the Complaints Review Team names of witnesses whom they would wish to see interviewed. Staff members who choose not to provide statements, if requested, will have this noted in the Report.
    h) In taking evidential statements, the Complaints Review Team will have the discretionary authority not to identify the source of the information, and to record that the statements were given anonymously. This will not apply to employees of the City Council, or former employees, or employees of other public sector organisations concerned with the relevant day nursery or the Child Protection Investigation relating thereto.
    i) Throughout this process, the Manager, Standards and Quality Assurance Division, will ensure that meetings are arranged between the Complaints Review Team and the parents involved and their representatives, so as to allow for discussion on progress being made. The Complaints Review Team will not, however, disclose statements made by individuals, or comment on their findings or view on events until their report is presented.
    Directions were also given as to the Report itself:
    a) The final Report will be a typed document which covers and answers the areas included in the Terms of Reference.
    b) Specific complaints made by parents and their outcome will only be included in the Report with the complainant's agreement.
    c) With the authors' consent, and subject to public interest immunity, evidential statements may be published as an addendum to the main Report at the discretion of the Complaints Review Team.
    d) The Report will be submitted to the city council through the Chief Executive of the Authority. The Local Authority will determine its publication date, but will undertake not to amend the report, subject only to any public immunity issue.
    e) All parties to the report will have the opportunity to have their written observation on the Report considered in full by both Policy and Resources committee and the Social Services committee.
    f) A separate Report will be prepared by the Independent Person Scheme.
    g) Current legal advice indicates that the Review Team should not begin interviewing witnesses or taking evidence until the completion of all criminal cases relating to the Nursery.
  152. An important bone of contention between the parties (having particular relevance to issues of qualified privilege and malice) is the extent to which it was appropriate (if at all) for the Review Team to make findings of "guilt" in respect of what were effectively criminal offences – in particular, those of which the Claimants had already been acquitted in July 1994. It was at least for a time something which troubled those who were responsible, ultimately, for appointing the Review Team. It was drawn to my attention that there had been a significant amendment in the draft terms of reference at that stage, because someone had apparently pointed out that it was going to be difficult for the Review Team to come to conclusions about how things went wrong, or how to avoid similar mistakes in the future, without determining what it was that had gone wrong and to what extent. Accordingly, the complete ban on investigating the subject matter of the criminal proceedings was relaxed. It was coming to be recognised that some investigation would be integral to the task of establishing the facts and making recommendations for the future.
  153. I was shown a document apparently from Bob Hassall dated 11 July 1994, in which the first paragraph in the draft terms of reference had been expressed in the following words:
  154. "The investigation of specific complaints made by parents excepting any investigation into whether or not the alleged abuse occurred"
    The last words were crossed out and new wording was substituted in manuscript. As a result of this change, the paragraph then read:
    "The investigation of specific complaints made by parents. It should be noted, however, that the Review cannot make any finding on matters dealt with by the criminal court".
    That obviously corresponds to the final version of paragraph A of the Terms of Reference. It is not possible to say exactly when that amendment was made, but I note that the acquittal of the Claimants was recorded two days after Mr Hassall's note. It is conceivable that somebody made that amendment once the outcome was known. The wording would appear to represent an unsatisfactory compromise between two irreconcilable positions. It was recognised, at least in general terms, that it would not be appropriate to go behind the findings of the court; on the other hand, it was perceived that meaningful recommendations could not be made on the basis of taking the Claimants' innocence (or, for that matter, guilt) as a datum.
  155. In their witness statements and in their oral evidence in this litigation the members of the Review Team have insisted that they went into the exercise with no preconceived notions and with open minds, as would befit anyone undertaking a quasi-judicial task. On the other hand, the Claimants' case is that "Throughout the whole of the narrative of their Report, it is strikingly obvious that the Review Team were intent upon only selecting for inclusion material or interpretations of material which they could by some means use to destroy the reputations of the Claimants…. Alternative hypotheses involving the possible innocence of the Claimants were not explored or suggested at any stage throughout their Report…. The gravest assumptions of guilt were made without any warrant or evidential basis. All notions of fairness and justice towards the Claimants were abandoned in the effort to give authority to the guilty findings that the Review Team had pre-determined" (para. 4.2.1 of the Reply).
  156. There is no doubt that the Review Team members were placed in an almost impossible position unless they were to assume guilt (in accordance with the City Council's declared belief, originating at least as far back as February 1994, when the dismissals took place). They would otherwise have the task of carrying out an investigation into potentially hundreds of criminal offences without the power to compel witnesses or call for all relevant documents. For this reason alone, it is obvious with the benefit of hindsight (and indeed should have been obvious at the time) that they were simply not equipped for the task. In any event, none of them apparently had any expertise in conducting such an enquiry or in legal principles or processes (as to which, it emerges from their Report in several places that they were, in any event, quite disdainful).
  157. The four members of the Review Team claimed that they were throughout fair and open-minded. The Claimants, however, never had any confidence in the outcome because they felt it was going to be a foregone conclusion. Their fears were undoubtedly confirmed by one incident which even the Review Team now recognises as a major embarrassment.
  158. On 6 October 1997, the BBC broadcast a Panorama programme about sexual abuse perpetrated by women upon children and teenagers. This was, of course, some 13 months before the Report was published. Yet this apparently in no way inhibited the Fourth Defendant, Jacqui Saradjian, from participating in the programme, in the course of which the fact of child abuse at Shieldfield Nursery was taken for granted. It happens that Ms Saradjian had a special interest in female perpetrators of sexual abuse, and that is no doubt why she was invited to participate. What is clear, however, is that during the course of the programme two Shieldfield children and their mothers were interviewed and allegations were made against Dawn Reed to the effect that a knife and fork were inserted into [Child 4's] vagina, resulting in bleeding.
  159. The appearance of Ms Saradjian on the programme led to a complaint to Dr Barker from Miss Reed's advisers on 17 October 1997:
  160. "The Independent Complaints Review Team – Shieldfield Nursery Case
    You will no doubt by now be aware of the fact that there was a program [sic] on Panorama entitled "the Ultimate Taboo" screened on the 6th October this year. We refer to your letter of 12th May in which you indicated that information leaks did not emanate from the review team and that we could reassure our client in that respect. However, you will agree that the program is likely to lead people to the assumption that at least one of the team members by commenting on child abuse matters on a program that was dealing almost specifically with the Shieldfield Nursery case could lead one to assume bias. At no time during the film was Ms Sardijian's [sic] connection with the Independent Complaints Review Team into this case made known. Whilst she did not comment directly on the Shieldfield case, clearly the researchers for the program must have interviewed Ms Sardijian prior to her taking part in the program and one could be forgiven for reaching the conclusion that perhaps information on this case would be made known to the program researchers.
    The particular program was in itself alarmist and very damaging and you will forgive us for wondering about the independent stance of members of the review team who involve themselves in programs of this type which are commenting specifically on cases which they are reviewing.
    You will now perhaps appreciate why our client has taken the stance that she would not be afforded a full and fair hearing by the review team 'in private' as you state in your letter of 12th May, notwithstanding it's terms of reference require it to do so.
    As a result of this program, our client has now been convicted in the public's mind notwithstanding being cleared by the Court and with no means of defence.
    We understand this matter has already been taken up with the makers of the program and with the complaints authorities but you will appreciate our concern in a member of an enquiry panel taking part in a television program which in effect, itself pre judged the outcome of that persons investigation. We look forward to hearing from you as to your thoughts in relation to this matter and how it can be resolved."
  161. Obviously, if a judge or juror in the midst of criminal proceedings had participated in such a programme, when charged with the responsibility of deciding those very issues, the trial would have been terminated and the person in question no doubt suitably chastised. It is surprising that even a lay person should think it appropriate to take part in a television programme relating, at least in part, to the issues which she herself thought she was responsible for impartially determining. She told me on 20 February that she had known from early Summer 1997 that the programme maker had been talking to Shieldfield parents. But she said she faced a dilemma because if she did not appear on the programme she would have no control over how her published work would be used on the programme and it might be sensationalised. I did not find this very compelling because once her work was in the public domain they would be able to refer to it in any way they thought right - whether she appeared or not.
  162. It appears, moreover, that she discussed the invitation to participate in the programme with her colleagues on the Review Team. Professor Barker told me that he had indicated to her his preference that she should not accept, but left it to her professional judgment. Ms Jones took a similar approach. Mrs Saradjian thought she was given some encouragement by Mr Wardell, but he rapidly dissociated himself from that suggestion when he entered the witness box. He said she must have misunderstood him.
  163. This one incident may be thought to demonstrate a particular mindset and a remarkable naivety over the concept of natural justice. Mrs Saradjian now accepts that it was unwise. She believes she was misled by the programme makers, and deeply regrets her involvement.
  164. Needless to say, the Claimants' criticisms do not end there. A number of other matters are pleaded in the Reply and I summarise those below (Section 5).
  165. 4) Media coverage of the case

    The Newcastle Chronicle
  166. Following the publication of the Report on 12 November 1998, the Newcastle Evening Chronicle published a large number of articles. In these proceedings each of the Claimants originally sought a remedy in respect of well over 100 articles against the Newcastle Chronicle and Journal Ltd. They were published between 12 November 1998 and 23 September 1999. Each article was given a separate number although on some occasions one edition of the newspaper contained several articles within it. In some cases, it is possible to say that the whole or part of an article consists of a report of or comment upon the content of the Review Team Report. In other cases, there is to be found coverage of issues which are undoubtedly related to the subject-matter of the report but do not derive from it. I was going to consider the issues as to meaning and the limits (if any) to the protection afforded by statutory and/or common law privilege.
  167. On 24 February, however, when the evidence of the Review Team had been all but completed, the proprietors of the Newcastle Chronicle withdrew from the action on undisclosed terms. That left only the claims against the City Council and the Review Team. Up to that point, the Newcastle Chronicle, represented by Miss Victoria Sharp Q.C., had been advancing defences of both justification and privilege. It is not possible to put them completely out of sight and out of mind because they had participated in the trial for six weeks by that time. Miss Sharp had cross-examined and made various submissions of law. This contributed to my overall view of the case. Moreover, even after the departure of the Chronicle, Miss Page continued to rely on some of its coverage by attributing responsibility for it to the City Council and/or the Review Team. For the moment, I must attempt to summarise the content of the articles one by one.
  168. Articles 1-4: 12 November 1998

  169. The first article is headed "SHAMEFUL" and is accompanied by the sub-heading "Report reveals scandal of child abuse at nursery". It is attributed to Mr Peter Young, the Political Editor. It is continued inside the newspaper with the heading "Years of anguish: We waited for nothing, say abuse probe families". This comprises 23 paragraphs reporting upon and quoting from the Report, published earlier that day.
  170. Alongside the continuation inside the paper, there are two subsidiary articles, headed respectively "Where are they now?" and "Scandal report a waste".. The first was apparently also written by Mr Peter Young and the second by Miss Charlotte Gapper.
  171. "Where are they now?" contains four paragraphs alongside photographs of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed. It points out that they have not been seen since the criminal proceedings "collapsed in 1994". It asks readers "Do you know where they are now? If you have any information about them please contact the Chronicle newsdesk on 0191 201 6497". This is a theme to which the newspaper returned on a number of occasions.
  172. "Scandal report a waste" contains eight paragraphs with quotations from or on behalf of parents complaining of delay, absence of compensation and what is generally described as "a denial of justice".
  173. Articles 5-10: 13 November 1998

  174. On the front page of this issue appears Article 5 under the heading "£7500 – That could be the price of a stolen childhood". The article is described as an "exclusive" by Andrew McKegney. It consists of 10 paragraphs on the theme of the introductory words:
  175. "TRAGIC toddlers who were systematically abused at a North East nursery will receive just a few thousand pounds in compensation, their solicitor revealed today".
  176. It goes on to allege that 65 children were abused by the Claimants over a three year period. Most are said to have been suffering nightmares after being taken to houses and, in some cases, used in pornographic films. Reference was made to damages measured in tens of thousands of pounds "for those who suffered extensive physical and psychological damage". A mother whose daughter was said to have been "raped by Lillie" is quoted as saying:
  177. "No amount of money would be enough but £7500 as a start is pathetic. My daughter was robbed of her childhood. Her family has been shattered by this".
  178. Article 6 was headed "Abuse robbed my son of his boyhood" and is attributed to Charlotte Gapper. It describes the consequences for one of the boys concerned and is introduced as follows:
  179. "AN ANGUISHED mother told of her heartache today as she struggles to restore her son's stolen innocence.
    The mum, whose son was abused at the nursery, told how the ordeal threatens to tear her family apart. The mum-of-4 says her son was a normal little boy when he went to the nursery. Now he has severe behavioural problems and the mental capacity of a child half his age. He is being treated for hyperactivity and she said the things he suffered had robbed him of his childhood.
    The boy, now 10 joined the nursery when he was 18 months old. His mum said 'he started coming home with blood on his nappy so I went to speak to the people in charge but nothing was ever done about it.
    On several occasions I sent him to the nursery dressed as a boy and he came back dressed as a girl. I went back to the nursery but nobody knew what happened to his clothes.'"
  180. In the midst of that article appears a further notification to the readers about the two Claimants' change of identity and the latest information of which the newspaper has knowledge. They are once again invited to "Contact the Chronicle newsdesk". That article, however, is not complained of in these proceedings.
  181. On the same page there is an article spread across two pages under the heading "It's time for some answers". There is a sub-heading "Authorities must come clean over damning report which has shocked the region". This too is by Charlotte Gapper. It is 23 paragraphs long and contains a whole lot of questions to be answered by "the authorities". It is introduced by the following allegations:
  182. "TODAY the Chronicle challenges the authorities to answer the following questions. An appalling catalogue of child abuse, by two nursery nurses was exposed yesterday in a damning report which criticised staff and managers. Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed were part of a paedophile ring which abused children as young as two in the nursery where they worked. The 400-page report has taken three years to produce and although it is extremely detailed it has thrown out lots of questions which we want officials of the city council and other organisations involved to answer".
  183. The article is set alongside photographs of the Claimants with the caption:
  184. "ACCUSED – Nursery nurses Christopher Lillie, left and Dawn Reed, right, are branded abusers in the council-commissioned report, but escaped prosecution as children were ruled too young to testify".
    (That purports to be a summary of the ruling of Mr Justice Holland in July 1994.)
  185. Article 8 (published on the right hand side of the two-page spread) is under the heading "Long chain of incompetence" and is not attributed to any particular journalist. It consists of nine paragraphs complaining of "a chain of incompetence and ignorance" relating to a number of Council staff, such as Joyce and Susan Eyeington and Mr Brian Roycroft, the former Director of Social Services. There is a photograph published alongside of "a mother of one of the abused children" comforting her youngster.
  186. Article 9 (on the same page) is also unattributed and appears under the heading "Former boss is under attack". It is mainly concerned with Mr Brian Roycroft, whose photograph appears alongside. It consists of nine paragraphs relating to the "heavy criticism" directed at him in the Report.
  187. Articles 11-12: 14 November 1998

  188. The front page of this issue contains Article 11 within a box described as an "exclusive" by Charlotte Gapper. The heading is "WE WANT ACTION!" There is a sub-heading "Parents demand new police probe into nursery sex abuse scandal". There are 15 paragraphs calling for further police investigations and prosecution of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed. One of the mothers is quoted as saying, "I want to see a lot of heads roll". The article again accuses them of having abused "60 children over a three year period" and of having taken children to houses where they were "abused by a paedophile ring" and, in some cases, "used in porn films". The article also contains quotations from a "spokesman" to the effect that there had been no evidence to support any other charges than those originally brought. The police enquiry was described as "thorough and complete".
  189. Alongside the article there are again photographs of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed, with the caption "WALKED FREE – The case against Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed was halted".
  190. On page 5 of the same issue appears Article 12 under the heading "Under fire bosses still working with children". This is attributed to Andrew McKegney. There are 18 paragraphs, mainly directed towards the fact that some of the individuals criticised in the Report were still working with children (Audrey Palmer, formerly Deputy Head of the Nursery, and Joyce Eyeington). There are again photographs of the Claimants with the caption "DEPRAVED – Nursery workers Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed systematically abused as many as 65 children as young as 2-years-old and took youngsters to home where they were raped and abused by a ring of paedophiles".
  191. Articles 13-15: 16 November 1998

  192. Article 13 is by Charlotte Gapper and appeared on page 5 of this issue under the heading "Abuse replies leave a lot to be desired". It contains 21 paragraphs and complains that satisfactory answers have not been supplied by the "authorities" to the questions posed by Chronicle on 13 November. In the midst of this article appears Article 15, returning to the theme of "Where are they now?" and inviting readers to supply information as to the Claimants' whereabouts.
  193. Article 14 appears on the same page under the heading "Sacked from chef's post" and was also written by Charlotte Gapper. There are 10 paragraphs purporting to describe comments by a "former boss" of Christopher Lillie and an attack upon his "lover Lorraine Kelly". It alleges that the former employer only discovered Mr Lillie's "sordid background after sacking him". He is quoted as saying that he had worked as a trainee chef for four months but had been asked to leave because "he wasn't good at his job". There then follow two paragraphs:
  194. "I had no idea who he was until a gang of guys came in asking for Christopher Lillie. Within days it all came out and I felt sick.
    The girlfriend of one of the chefs who worked for me had a daughter at the nursery and he was physically sick outside when he realised he had been friendly with him."
  195. The article continues by asserting that Lorraine Kelly "knew about his terrible past before he was branded a child abuser in the Report". It continued:
  196. "It was claimed Lorraine Kelly only found out about his involvement in a paedophile ring when the report was published on Thursday. But experts who investigated the child abuse scandal said nursery nurse Lillie developed a relationship with Miss Kelly while he worked at the nursery. According to reports yesterday Lorraine Kelly moved out of the house she shared with Lillie in Gateshead last week".
    Precisely what is being alleged there is unclear.

    Articles 16-18: 17 November 1998

  197. On page 5 of this issue appeared Article 16 under the heading "Tots are targeted in pioneering project". This too is by Charlotte Gapper. There are 16 paragraphs on the following theme:
  198. "The Newcastle nursery where Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed abused more than 60 children in their care has been running a pilot scheme which will soon be extended across the city.
    It targets tots aged 18 months to four years and encourages them to tell someone if they have been frightened".
  199. Article 17 is unattributed but appears on the same page under the heading "Mum's horror find". It consists of seven paragraphs alleging that a "mum whose son was abused by Christopher Lillie has discovered video footage showing the nursery nurse with youngsters at a party parents knew nothing about". It suggests that Mr Lillie had "dressed up as Santa".
  200. Article 18 is also unattributed and appears on the same page under the heading "Inquiry demand made by City MP". There are six paragraphs describing how a local member of Parliament, Mr Brown, had called upon the Law Society to investigate circumstances in which local firms of solicitors had represented Mr Lillie and Miss Reed, despite the fact that they had connections with people who had served on the City Council.
  201. Articles 19-20: 18 November 1998

  202. In this issue there is, in effect, one article beginning on the front page and continued on page 2. On the front page there is a box containing the introduction with the headline "A MUM'S TORTURE", and on page 2 it is continued under the fresh heading "Mum in abuse probe agony". The article was written by Charlotte Gapper, again described as an "exclusive".
  203. There is a photograph of each of the Claimants on the front page with the caption "EVIL PAIR – nursery nurses, Christopher Lillie and [sic] Dawn Reed abused up to 60 or so young children in their care". The article consists overall of 17 paragraphs and describes the agony of a "tragic mum" who was deeply troubled by the allegation in the Report that Mr Lillie and Miss Reed had used children for obtaining pornographic photographs for the use of a paedophile ring. The effect of it may be summarised by reference to the fifth paragraph:
  204. "She hopes she will finally be able to end her anguish by discovering if her son was abused in any of the films made by nursery nurses Lillie and Reed".
    The article also contains quotations from the Review Team Report.

    Articles 21-24: 19 November 1998

  205. On the front page of the issue of 19 November 1998 appeared an "Evening Chronicle comment" (unattributed) under the heading "A CAN OF WORMS". There is a sub-heading "Council chiefs should hang heads in shame". There are eleven paragraphs devoted to criticising various people including the Northumbria Police, the City Council and the "boss of the college" where Mr Lillie and Miss Reed trained (for apparently having lost their "training records"). The introductory paragraphs give the flavour:
  206. "IT is hard to imagine a more shabby and shameful episode.
    Up to 60 children are abused by the people who are meant to be caring for them, nursery nurses, Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed. The men and women running the Newcastle City Council – they presided over this nightmare – can't even bring themselves to say sorry!
    They should hang their heads in shame.
    From the moment this can of worms was opened, the powers that be have done nothing but wriggle."
  207. On pages 8-9 of the same issue there is a two page spread (Article 22) under the heading "Why can't they say sorry?" This is attributed to Peter Young and Charlotte Gapper. Again Mr Lillie and Miss Reed are accused of having caused "up to 60 ruined lives", and the bulk of the article is devoted to asking why the City Council had failed to apologise to the parents of those alleged to have been abused. Alongside that there is another box inviting readers to call the Chronicle newsdesk if they had any information as to the Claimants' whereabouts.
  208. Article 23 appears on page 8 of that issue under the heading "College boss is still in the dark". There is an eight paragraph article by Charlotte Gapper about Mr Paul Harvey of the North Tyneside College (where both Claimants trained as nursery nurses). It contains a summary of the criticisms as to the lack of information available about their training. The Chronicle apparently paid £20.00 for a copy of the Review Team's Report so that he could respond to the "slamming" and "rapping" given to his college. He is quoted as saying:
  209. "My main source of what has been said is the Chronicle. The college will take seriously any criticisms and a full action plan will be prepared.
    These particular students were at the college eight years ago and lots of changes have been made since then. The way we monitor courses and students has changed.
    We will be looking to see if points have been addressed and if they haven't I will be dealing with them with the utmost priority."
  210. Article 24 appears on the same page and contains eighteen paragraphs under the heading "Children let down by error after error". Again the author is Charlotte Gapper. It summarises in eighteen paragraphs "some of the more shocking findings" of the Review Teams Report.
  211. Articles 25-30: 20 November 1998

  212. On page 1 appears Article 25, by Peter Young and Charlotte Gapper under the bold headline "SORRY – Chronicle shames council bosses into issuing an apology to nursery abuse families". It consists (together with "Article 28") of a total of seventeen paragraphs recording how "Council bosses bowed to public pressure today and said sorry to the families whose lives had been ruined by the Newcastle child abuse scandal. An eight-year-old is quoted as telling the Chronicle, "I am glad they have said it today. It is a good birthday present that they have said sorry but they should have said it ages ago".
  213. Article 26 appears inside the paper under the heading "How many more of our children were abused?" There is the usual box containing photographs of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed with the caption "WHERE ARE THEY NOW? If you have any information about Dawn Reed or Christopher Lillie call the Chronicle newsdesk on 0191 201 6497". The main body of the article contains twenty two paragraphs devoted to the theme that hundreds of other children could have been abused by Christopher Lillie but that their parents were not even told that he was under investigation. There is reference to the schools at which Mr Lillie took student placements during his training and the newspaper adds:
  214. "The Chronicle believes parents have a right to know which schools are involved as the local authorities have not said they will tell the mums and dads".
  215. It is said that the Report revealed that the two Claimants came into contact with 1,450 children in various locations and that, according to the Review Team, there was evidence to indicate that some of the children in those settings "were possibly abused by Lillie or Reed".
  216. On the same page appears Article 27 under the heading "Social Worker is suspended". This is unattributed and contains nine paragraphs referring to the suspension of Joyce Eyeington "in the wake of the Newcastle nursery abuse scandal". It refers also to the earlier suspension of Audrey Palmer and Maria Buck.
  217. Article 29 consists of a leader on page 27 of the same issue under the heading "Evening Chronicle says A Good Man". It praises the "dogged but gentle expertise shown by the men and women investigating the case" and, in particular, Detective Inspector Campbell Findlay who, the Chronicle declares, "can retire, with his head held high, knowing that Newcastle's trail-blazing child protection work has shown those youngsters that the world is not all bad – and shown it in a way they can understand".
  218. Article 30 is by the Chronicle's chief features writer Emma Andrews under the heading "Tough task to protect the young". It too consists of a paean of praise for Detective Inspector Findlay, on the verge of retirement, who had "the heartbreaking task of telling the young victims that the people who had hurt them were not going to prison". He is described as the man who led the harrowing investigation into "one of the most shameful episodes in the history of childcare – the man who fought to bring perverted nursery nurses Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed to justice".
  219. Articles 31-32: 21 November 1998

  220. On the front page of the Chronicle for 21 November 1998 there appeared an article, by Peter Young, under the heading "I'LL MEET TRAGIC FAMILIES – Council boss will meet nursery abuse scandal mums and dads". In the eight paragraph article, the Chronicle reveals that Mr Tony Flynn, the City Council's leader, will have a face-to-face meeting with parents and families "devastated by the child abuse scandal". It was said that the Council would be seeking a change in the law so that young victims of abuse would be able to give evidence in court. This is in the context of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed "walked free" from Newcastle Crown Court "after a Judge ruled video evidence from a four-year-old was inadmissible".
  221. Article 32, also by Peter Young, appears on page 5 of the same issue under the heading "I'll meet parents". There are a series of questions posed by the Chronicle and brief answers from Mr Flynn. There is also the usual call for information as to the whereabouts of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed.
  222. Articles 33-35: 23 November 1998

  223. On page 7 of the issue for 23 November 1998 appears Article 33 "Battling for justice as victims speak up". This article is by Julie Cush, and is largely devoted to allegations about a Mr Leslie Newton, who had pleaded guilty to some 23 charges involving eight children between 1974 and 1995. It is introduced, however, by reference to a solicitor called Clare Routledge who is said to be representing 27 families whose children were assaulted by nursery nurses Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed. Alongside, appears Article 34 "Warning signs ignored". This is a short article, also by Julie Cush, in which it is said that Mr Lillie and Miss Reed were, in 1990, asked to help a mother with two young sons. It is alleged that, after they helped bath and put them to bed, one of them had displayed "sexualised behaviour", but the allegations were never followed up.
  224. On page 5 of the same issue Article 35 appears under the heading "My first boyfriend – a monster in disguise". Described as an "exclusive" by Charlotte Gapper, the article contains allegations made by an anonymous former girlfriend of Mr Lillie, detailing her "shock at finding former sweetheart ruined children's lives". There are 27 paragraphs in all, introduced as follows:
  225. "HE LOOKS like a normal young man enjoying himself at his girlfriend's birthday party.
    But the person in this exclusive picture is Christopher Lillie, former nursery nurse responsible for the abuse of up to 60 Newcastle toddlers.
    And there are no happy memories of that night for the young woman who joined Lillie to celebrate her 18th birthday. She can no longer bear to look at the pictures after just finding out that her first boyfriend was a pervert who preyed on little children.
    The woman, who does not want to be named, contacted the Chronicle to express her disgust at the crimes committed by the man who was her first boyfriend".

    Articles 36-38: 24 November 1998

  226. On page 2 of the issue for 24 November 1998 there was published article 36, believed to be by Mr Peter Young, headed "Abuse scandal staff will not be rapped". This consists of seven paragraphs complaining that senior staff criticised after the "child abuse scandal" will escape disciplinary action. It is said, however, that most of them have left the Council, "which ran the nursery where more than 60 children were abused"..
  227. Article 37 appears on page 7 of the same issue headed "We warned of evil abusers years ago". Once again there is a box in the middle of this article inviting information as to the whereabouts of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed. The article is by Charlotte Gapper and consists of 22 paragraphs describing how a couple, whose children were alleged to have been abused by Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed, claimed to have blown the whistle on "the evil pair" two years before they came under suspicion. They are alleged to have raised concerns with social workers in 1990 after one of their four children received cuts and bruises while living in a children's home and attending the Shieldfield Nursery. It continues:
  228. "But they said their complaints were dismissed and it meant Lillie and Reed were able to go on and abuse dozens more children".
  229. The article is based upon a section of the Review Team Report quoted as follows:
  230. "We have been told that Chris Lillie took a particular interest in the youngest little boy and that they cared for the children away from the other residents and staff group in an old staff flat which had a separate entrance.
    Thus during the day the children saw them at the nursery and in the evenings they were on their own with them from around 6 o'clock through bathtime until when they put him to bed.
    One little boy who was cared for by Dawn Reed exhibited sexualised behaviour which concerned staff and was recorded.
    A little girl was recorded as being distressed and collecting flowers for her mother whom she seemed to think was dead".
  231. Article 38 appears on the same page, also by Charlotte Gapper, headed "We stand by decision". There are six paragraphs referring to City Council condemnation of the Chronicle for identifying the other premises where Mr Lillie and Miss Reed had worked earlier in their career. It is said that the Chronicle's actions can only have the effect of creating unnecessary concern and distress among the parents and carers of the children who attended those premises. The Chronicle defends its position by saying:
  232. "We took the decision to name the other three as parents were not told their children could have been abused by Lillie. The Report into the scandal reveals social services staff failed to trace youngsters who were at schools where Lillie carried out student placements. In the face of the council's inactivity, we felt those parents had a right to know. We stand by that decision".

    Articles 39-40: 26 November 1998

  233. On page 2 of the issue for 26 November 1998, there is an unattributed article, possibly by Mr Young, headed "Council repeats abuse apology". This alleges that "City Council chiefs" were not admitting anything which could lead to compensation being paid to the families involved, despite repeating their apology and pledging a detailed response to criticism. It yet again repeats the allegation that "more than 60 children were abused at a council run nursery". At the foot of the article appears an invitation to turn to an article on page 9 in the words "PERVERT FLEES". On page 9, Article 40 is headed "Flat abandoned as abuser Lillie flees". There is also above it a small heading "EXCLUSIVE: Dozens of video tapes left behind as nursery attacker vanishes". There is a photograph of Mr Lillie dressed as a chef, with a knife in front of him on a table, and the caption "DISAPPEARED – Pervert Lillie pictured recently before leaving hotel where he worked as a chef". There are also photographs taken inside the flat where he had been living with his girlfriend, Lorraine Kelly. He said in evidence that permission for those photographs must have been given by the landlord. There is a caption underneath in the words "HOME OF SHAME –Christopher Lillie's flat left abandoned as if he and his partner were forced to leave quickly".
  234. The body of the article, by Andrew McKegney, consists of eleven paragraphs introduced as follows:
  235. "VILE Christopher Lillie has fled his Tyneside home with his new partner, leaving behind a flat full of videos.
    The couple have not been seen at the upstairs Tyneside flat since the nursery abuse scandal broke.
    And after learning the true identity of his tenant Lillie's landlord has revealed that he will not be renewing the lease and has boarded up the flat. Lillie, 34 had been living at the terrace in Gateshead with Lorraine Kelly for 18 months under his new name Christopher Allen.
    But his landlord said he never knew who he was and said the discovery that his tenant was the man who abused dozens of children in his care had left him stunned."
  236. The article also repeats the allegation (to be found in the Report) to the effect that Mr Lillie "also filmed his crimes with fellow worker Dawn Reed". Reference was also made to the fact there were two television sets, two VCRs and dozens of tapes. These were said to be the subject of police enquiries "as a result of information received from the Evening Chronicle".
  237. Article 41: 27 November 1998

  238. On page 2 of the issue for 27 November, there appears Article 41, "Storm erupts over abuse case". There is a photograph of Sir Jeremy Beecham, a former City Council Leader, who is also a solicitor. The caption is "NO CONFLICT – Sir Jeremy Beecham says any enquiry will conclude that he acted properly in the matter". The criticism was directed to Sir Jeremy because he was a partner in the firm of Newcastle solicitors which was representing Mr Lillie at one stage.
  239. Article 42: 30 November 1998

  240. On page 11 of the issue for 30 November 1998, Article 42 was published under the heading "End of the line". This article is by a new journalist, Miles Starforth, and reports an announcement by the Secretary of State for Health of a "Nationwide plan to drive out the evil abusers". There is a photograph of Mr Frank Dobson, the then minister, next to a photograph of Miss Reed. The caption is "READY TO ACT – Frank Dobson wants action to stop abusers like Dawn Lillie [sic] right, preying on children". There is also a photograph of Mr Lillie with a caption "SET FREE – former nursery nurse Christopher Lillie pictured when he worked as a chef at a Sunderland Hotel". The body of the article consists of 16 paragraphs describing the launch, in the wake of the Newcastle nursery scandal, of a "blue print to protect children from cruelty and sex abuse". In the middle of the article there is a strap heading "Dismissed" followed by these words:
  241. "Nursery nurses Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed walked free from court in 1994 after indecency charges were dismissed after inadmissible evidence.
    But an independent report out two weeks ago [sic] disclosed the full extent of the abuse at the nursery and revealed proper recruitment and selection procedures had not been adequately followed".

    Articles 43-44: 2 December 1998

  242. On page 5 of the issue for 2 December 1998 appeared an article by Mr Peter Young under the main heading "Blunder threatens youngsters' parties". It is reported that various youth projects were being closed down because of a failure to clear the backgrounds of volunteer workers. These developments are the main focus of the story but there is a third paragraph which makes reference to the Claimants:
  243. "It comes with the Council still reeling over the damning report on serial child abusers Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed employed at a city nursery".
  244. In paragraph eleven it is said that:
  245. "Nursery nurses Lillie and Reed are accused of child abuse but walked free from Newcastle Crown Court when the case against them collapsed".
  246. It is also alleged that Mr Lillie was unqualified and had spent two years under the supervision of a social worker after appearing in court accused of theft.
  247. On the same pages appears Article 44, "No action sparks fury". This is a short article (unattributed) which refers to parents yet again "reacting with fury", for the reason that no action was being taken against a police officer who had refused to co-operate with the Review Team inquiry. The article continues:
  248. "Det. Con. Peter Smith declined to be interviewed by the Inquiry Team which investigated how nursery nurses Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed were able to abuse more than 60 children in their care. Det. Con. Smith was one of only seven witnesses, including Lillie and Reed who refused to help the Inquiry Team, which praised other police officers. He declined to be interviewed or provide a written statement".

    Article 45: 3 December 1998

  249. Article 45 was also apparently by Andrew McKegney and appeared under the heading "Inquiry misled". The newspaper raises a series of questions to be asked of Sir Jeremy Beecham's partner, David Lamb, resulting from a mistake he made when he informed the Review Team of the date on which he began to act for Christopher Lillie. It appears that he gave the date 9 November 1993 when in fact he had taken the case up on 21 September. The questions posed by the Chronicle to Sir Jeremy Beecham and David Lamb are not complained of in these proceedings. The principal article consists of ten paragraphs setting out the mistake and appears under small photographs of the two Claimants with the caption "ABUSERS – nursery workers Lillie and Reed".
  250. Article 46: 4 December 1998

  251. Article 46 is headed "Angry parents seeking answers" and consists of eleven paragraphs about the meeting of Mr Tony Flynn with "Families devastated by the Newcastle nursery scandal". It refers to invitations having been sent out to parents "of more than 60 children sexually abused by nursery nurses Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed". The fifth paragraph contains the following:
  252. "One mum, whose daughter was raped by Lillie, says 'I want to ask the leader if the council has any intention of stopping this pair working with children again. It's terrible to think that other children could be at risk'".
  253. One of the main themes of the article is that the press were not permitted to be present for the meeting with Mr Flynn.
  254. Article 47: 8 December 1998

  255. The next article is also by Andrew McKegney and headed "Don't lose out on showdown". This is an eighteen paragraph article reporting fears expressed by a "self-help group", Parents Together Working Together, that few of the parents involved would accept the invitation to meet Mr Flynn. It was suggested that as few as six families might be represented. There are also pictures alongside of Christopher Lillie, with the caption "ABUSER – Nursery nurse Christopher Lillie", and of Dawn Reed with the caption "ASSAULTS – Dawn Reed".
  256. Article 48: 9 December 1998

  257. Andrew McKegney is also the author of this article published in the issue for 9 December 1998 under the heading "Parents take fight to the top". There are eighteen paragraphs, underneath photographs of Mr Flynn, Mr Brian Roycroft and Sir Jeremy Beecham. The parents of "young children abused at a Tyneside nursery" are reported as having demanded "showdown talks" with two men at the centre of the scandal (namely, Mr Tony Flynn and Director of Social Services, Mr Tom Dervin).
  258. The newspaper reported that many parents came away thinking that the meeting with those two representatives had been helpful, but anger was said to have been expressed at the fact that Mr Roycroft and Sir Jeremy Beecham had not been present. There is reference in the body of the article to the meeting having been called "to meet parents whose children had been abused by nursery nurses Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed".
  259. One woman is referred to in the context of her nephew having been "abused at the age of two". Another "mum" is described as having a daughter abused by Lillie when she was four. She is quoted also as saying:
  260. "He said as far as he was concerned abuse had happened and they had no doubt that these two had done it and that was as much as they could say".

    Articles 49-52: 11 December 1998

  261. The story returned to the front page of the issue of 11 December 1998 under the large headline "WE'LL SEE YOU IN COURT – Abuse families reject council's fast-track compensation offer". There are nine paragraphs on the front page, but the story is continued ("Article 52") on page 7 under the heading "Speedy moves". The article is mainly concerned with the dispute between parents/carers and their representatives, on the one hand, and the City Council on the other as to the matter of compensation. The direct references to the Claimants are to be found in paragraph two:
  262. "Newcastle City Council said it is keen to settle compensation claims by parents abused by perverts Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed out of court".
  263. The next paragraph refers to "one of Britain's worst cases of child abuse".
  264. In the continuation article it is said:
  265. "It remains unclear how many of the other 1,162 children Lillie and Reed may have came into contact with in the years before they were arrested in 1993 will be re-visited".
  266. On page 6 of the same issue appear articles 50 and 51 under the headings, respectively, "Quick cash for abuse victims" and "Angry parents lash former Council Chief". Only the first is formally attributed (to Mr Peter Young). It consists of twenty two paragraphs reporting that the Council has not admitted negligence or any form of legal liability " for the abuse of more than 60 children at a city day nursery". It refers back to the Review Team Report and their conclusion that "… the pair took children out of the nursery to be abused by a paedophile ring".
  267. There is another paragraph headed "Investigating further possible cases of abuse", containing the following allegations:
  268. "There are 1,162 children who may have been in contact with Lillie and Reed and the council says this requires further consultation with the Social Services Inspectorate to see whether the investigation needs to be re-opened."
  269. Article 51 is set in a box on page 6 under photographs of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed, each captioned "Abuser". The article reports criticisms, once again, of the two Claimants being represented, at various stages, by firms of solicitors with partners who happened to be members of the City Council.
  270. Article 53: 12 December 1998

  271. On page 13 of the issue for 12 December 1998 there appears an unattributed article under the heading "Whistle blowers' charter to foil abuse". Once again photographs of Miss Reed and Mr Lillie accompany the article with captions, respectively, "ABUSER – Dawn Reed" and "PERVERT - Christopher Lillie".
  272. There are thirteen paragraphs in the article, reporting a proposal to create an official charter encouraging council workers to inform on colleagues having affairs or relationships. It is described as a "charter for whistle blowing" and was supposed to deal with problems arising where personal relations had developed between colleagues. The relevance of this is that the Review Team referred to the one time "close personal relationship" between Mr Brian Roycroft, former Director of Social Services, and Joyce Eyeington. It was alleged that she was appointed without the job being advertised and without an interview. The Report is described in the article as following "their lengthy probe into the horrific actions of perverts Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed". The seventh paragraph contains the following allegation:
  273. "The inquiry also found once she was established in the job, Eyeington went on to employ five of her relatives, including her niece who incompetently managed the nursery where Reed and Lillie preyed on youngsters".
  274. An element of bathos was introduced at the end of the article where Mr Roycroft is quoted as saying that the relationship between him and Joyce Eyeington had taken place "25-30 years before the abuse happened".
  275. Article 54: 14 December 1998

  276. Article 54 in fact consists of a letter published on the correspondence page on 14 December 1998, under the heading "Such a shock". It was signed by a Mr R. Kirkwood of North Shields. It contains the following passage:
  277. "The actual case of multiple sexual abuse is terrible and the families of the victims have every right to feel hatred and bitterness and all right thinking people will feel revulsion at the behaviour of Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed. They have escaped conviction and some of the frustration resulting from this has caused the anger to be displaced from the perpetrators on to Brian Roycroft and the staff who have been suspended".

    Article 55: 17 December 1988

  278. On page 19 of the issue for 17 December 1998 there appeared an unattributed article (in fact by Mr McKegney) entitled "We won't let this ever happen again". It consists of twelve paragraphs about "council moves to prevent a repeat of the Newcastle nursery scandal". It reminds readers that the Review Team Report had investigated Mr Lillie and Miss Reed "… who abused dozens of youngsters in their care at a council run nursery". There is a photograph of Mr Lillie alongside the article with the caption "ABUSER - Christopher Lillie carried out sex attacks on kids".
  279. Article 56: 24 December 1998

  280. Article 56 was published on Christmas Eve with the heading "Pictures of Santa reminds city child of sex assaults". The article is attributed to Charlotte Gapper and is accompanied by two photographs. That of Miss Reed appears the caption "I WISH SHE WAS DEAD – How one mother of a victim feels of Dawn Reed". The picture of Mr Lillie bears the caption "DRESSED AS SANTA – Former nursery nurse and abuser Christopher Lillie". There are nineteen paragraphs, reporting that "The only thing on the tortured youngster's present list was a desperate plea for justice". It is a reference to what is alleged to have been the only Christmas wish of a boy abused during the Newcastle nursery scandal". The boy's mother is said to have been moved to tears because all her son is asking is why Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed are not in jail. The mother is further quoted:
  281. "If Reed and Lillie were found that would be our best Christmas present. I want them to go through some of what we are going through.
    My son asked me if they were in jail and I had to say no. He asked if we could move house because he is frightened that they will come and get him."
  282. The article later contains the allegation that "Lillie and Reed abused more than 60 children in their care but they escaped prosecution because the victims were too young to give evidence". One of the mothers from the Parents Together Working Together is quoted as saying:
  283. "The best Christmas present would be for Reed and Lillie to be locked up or found dead. They have caused so much heartbreak and broken so many families up."

    Article 57: 26 December 1998

  284. On Boxing Day article 57 appeared on page 3 under the heading "Probe attack". It was reported in a small article that a former Assistant Director of Social Services, David Johnstone, had attacked Brian Roycroft "for his alleged failure to help investigators probing abuse case nursery nurses Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed".
  285. Article 58: 2 January 1999

  286. Article 58 appears as a small item within a larger "Review of 1998":
  287. "PARENTS demanded justice after nursery workers Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed were condemned as being child molesters who escaped prosecution because their victims were too young to give evidence. A damning 312-page report laid much of the blame at the doors of the Newcastle City Council which ran the nursery".

    Articles 59-60: 7 January 1999

  288. Although described as Articles 59 and 60, there was in effect only one article published on 7 January 1999 under the heading "PROBE INTO SPORTS CENTRE CHILD ABUSE". It was attributed to Charlotte Gapper and was published on pages 1 and 2. The article was apparently reporting a "new abuse alert" in relation to allegations of a sports centre coach abused of indecently assaulting children. On the second page the following four paragraphs appear:
  289. "It also follows the damning report into the Newcastle nursery abuse scandal which revealed a catalogue of errors made by the City Council.
    One of the mums whose child was abused by nursery workers, Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed while they worked at the council run nursery, said 'You would hope the City Council would now have in place a rigorous system of checks on those employees who worked with children and young people'.
    The inquiry team investigating the scandal concluded proper recruitment and selection procedures were not followed in the case of Lillie and references and police checks were not followed up.
    The council is supposed to carry out checks with police on staff working with children and young people every three years".

    Article 61: 13 January 1999

  290. On 13 January 1999 an article appeared on page 18 headed "Parents Together", attributed to Charlotte Gapper. The main focus of the piece is the "latest council abuse probe" concerning the Scotswood Sports Centre. The Parents Together Working Together Group was inviting concerned parents to get in touch with them. There was a passing reference to Mr Lillie and Miss Reed in the context of how the group came to be set up after the allegations against them first came to light.
  291. Article 62: 15 January 1999

  292. On page 2 of the issue for 15 January 1999, there appeared an article by Peter Young and Charlotte Gapper with the heading "A war of words over probe into ex-leader role". It returns to the theme of Sir Jeremy Beecham and the allegation of conflict of interest. Sir Jeremy is said to have been "totally vindicated" after a council investigation into an allegation that he breached a code of conduct because of his firm's taking on the case of Mr Lillie, "one of the two nursery nurses accused of child abuse at a council day nursery".
  293. Article 63: 19 January 1999

  294. An article under the heading "Vetting for councillors" was published on 19 January 1999. The article was unattributed and referred to the fact that councillors who would come into regular contact with children and elderly people had volunteered to be vetted by police. The background is said to be criticism of the City Council "after a probe into the case of nursery nurses Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed, pictured left, accused of sex abuse". On this occasion, there are no captions to the photographs.
  295. Article 64: 22 January 1999

  296. On 22 January 1999 an article was published, attributed to Peter Young, under the heading "Bitter abuse row is over at last". The story is about a councillor, Norman Povey, who is reported as having decided not to pursue a complaint against the former City Council Leader, Sir Jeremy Beecham, in the wake of the Newcastle child abuse scandal. Although the story refers to Councillor Povey not having had the chance to "state his case properly and put a series of questions to the Chief Executive Kevin Lavery", the article recognises that Sir Jeremy was "cleared of breaching the code of conduct". The article contains background references to the fact that Sir Jeremy's firm had acted for Mr Lillie following the accusations of child abuse against him.
  297. Article 65: 25 January 1999

  298. On 25 January 1999 Article 65 appeared, written by Charlotte Gapper, under the heading "Parents seek more answers on abuse". There are three photographs alongside the article. The first appears under the heading and has attached to it the caption "STILL IN THE DARK – Parents attack a police van outside Newcastle Crown Court during Lillie and Reed's trial". The second photograph is of Christopher Lillie with the caption "Paedophile ring", and the third is of Dawn Reed with the caption "Shamed nurse". The main body of the article consists of thirteen paragraphs describing how parents were at that time seeking a meeting with councillors over "some unanswered questions". The article quotes "one of the mums" as saying:
  299. "We still want to know who the other people in the paedophile ring with Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed were and why they were not investigated".
  300. There is a further paragraph, in the third column, alleging that the Review Team had revealed Mr Lillie and Miss Reed as having "procured other young children for paedophiles". The reaction of Northumbria Police is also given; namely that they would not reopen their investigation unless new evidence was produced.
  301. Article 66: 30 January 1999

  302. A short piece was published under "Local News" in the issue for 30 January 1999 with the heading "Nursery abuse parents hit back". The article refers to a meeting which parents had apparently had with one of the Newcastle members of Parliament, Mr Jim Cousins, to discuss their continuing concerns. Although parents are described as wanting to see Mr Lillie and Miss Reed "brought to justice", it is once again recorded that the Northumbria Police would only re-open their inquiry if new evidence came to light. Mr Cousins is described also as wanting to press for a change in the law to deal with the admissibility of children's evidence.
  303. Article 67: 3 February 1999

  304. On page 13 of the issue for 3 February 1999 there appeared an article by Charlotte Gapper with the heading "We warned of abuse". The usual photographs of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed appear, with the captions "CHILD ABUSER" in each case. There is also a photograph of people standing with a large banner saying "We believe the kids!" and the caption "FURY – protesters demand action over the scandal".
  305. The article consists of eleven paragraphs describing how a family plans to sue the City Council and to apply for compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. The article is about the couple who "raised fears about child abusers Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed two years before they were suspected". Their complaint is that they were still being ignored by the City Council. The article continues:
  306. "Their four children were living in a residential home where Reed and Lillie worked and told social workers of their fears in 1990.
    One of their sons received cuts and bruises and when he came home is behaviour was very aggressive.
    But they claimed complaints were dismissed and Lillie and Reed went on to abuse at least 60 children in the Newcastle nursery scandal".

    Article 68: 4 February 1999

  307. On page 5 of the issue for 4 February 1999 an "Exclusive" was published by Charlotte Gapper. The article consists of eleven paragraphs and is headed "Ex-Tory leader calls for new abuse probe". There is a large photograph above the article with the caption "TEARS FOR ABUSED CHILDREN – Parents still feel that the full facts of the nursery abuse scandal have still not been revealed". A Mr Mike Summersby is reported as having called for a government investigation into the Newcastle nursery abuse scandal following a meeting with parents. He is a former conservative leader from the North East and is quoted as saying:
  308. "The more you hear about the details the more shocking and distressing the whole thing is".
    The following words are attributed to him:
    "This is a national disgrace not just a local one and I think these parents have a right to a proper hearing of their situation.
    Even at this late stage there has got to be intervention. It screams out for justice and proper regard for the facts. It's my intention to involve national politicians".
  309. The article concludes as follows:
  310. "The inquiry team found that Lillie and Reed procured young children for other paedophiles but Northumbria police said that they would not re-open their investigation unless new evidence was produced.
    Mr Summersby said: 'I cannot understand why the police cannot pursue people named'. One of the mums added: 'It was a very constructive meeting. I hope we can finally get something done after all these years of fighting'."

    Article 69: 9 February 1999

  311. On page 20 of the issue for 9 February 1999, in the "Any Other Business" column, Peter Young returns to the theme. Yet again he raises to the allegations about Sir Jeremy Beecham and claims that Labour councillors have been involved in a bitter, behind-the-scenes row. The article was introduced as follows:
  312. "FAMILIES involved in Britain's worst case of multiple child abuse can only sit helplessly on the side lines as councillors squabble over the rights and wrongs of the affair.
    Parents are still awaiting some sort of justice six years after their children were badly abused at a council-run Newcastle day nursery. If ever a group have been betrayed by the system and the authorities, it's them. Two nursery nurses accused of abuse, Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed, walked free after the case collapsed. No one has been brought to justice, despite claims a paedophile ring was in operation."

    Article 70:11 February 1999

  313. There is a feature article by Noreen Coltman appeared in the issue of 11 February 1999 with the heading "When cash pay-outs just don't add up". Her theme is developed in a sub-heading:
  314. "A WOMAN who took ecstasy tablets and fell ill is to receive £250,000 pay-out for her suffering, yet the families of those involved in the Newcastle child abuse scandal will get as little as £7,000 each. NOREEN COLMAN asks: Is our compensation system falling apart?"
  315. The main article consists of 32 paragraphs developing her arguments and referring to examples of personal injury compensation. The article includes reference to a "Julie Smith" whose son is said to have suffered years of sexual abuse at the hands of his nursery school carers. It is said that "mum Julie", aged 50, will be picking up the pieces for years to come. He is said to have been abused by "nursery carers Dawn Reed and Christopher Lillie", and she feels the system has let her down.
  316. Article 71: 13 February 1999

  317. In the issue for 13 February 1999 under "Local News" appeared another article by Charlotte Gapper, "Dream trip is planned for abused kids". She describes how parents were aiming to raise cash for a "Disney Holiday". There are nine paragraphs describing how members of Parents Together Working Together were organising fund raising events to collect money for a trip to Disneyland Paris. The planned trip was for the purpose of helping to "heal wounds". The article includes the following passages:
  318. "At least 60 children were abused by Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed and many of them still suffer from severe behavioural problems. They have told how they were taken out of the nursery, molested in houses and flats in the neighbourhood, and there is evidence they were used in pornographic films.
    Lillie and Reed were dismissed by the City Council for gross misconduct but walked free from court in 1984 when a Judge ruled as inadmissible video evidence from a four-year-old".
  319. There is also a photograph of the banner ("We believe the kids") with the caption "OUTRAGE – Protesters outside Newcastle Crown Court where nursery abusers Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed were on trial".
  320. Article 72: 19 February 1999

  321. On page 2 of the Chronicle for 19 February 1999 appeared a two paragraph article with the heading "Abuse parents meet". It refers to a second meeting between Mr Flynn and "mums and dads" to discuss what was described as the "council's action plan". The introductory paragraph contains the assertion that "children were abused by Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed in the Newcastle nursery scandal".
  322. Article 73: 23 February 1999

  323. Charlotte Gapper produced another article for the issue of 23 February 1999 under the heading "We've been snubbed again – abuse parents". There are the usual photographs of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed – this time with the captions, respectively, "CHILD ABUSE – Former nursery nurse Christopher Lillie" and "NURSERY SCANDAL – Dawn Reed abused children in her care".
  324. Once again Miss Gapper returns to the theme of parents who are said to have raised fears about Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed two years before they were suspected of abusing children. They were complaining that they were not aware of the Review Team investigation until they saw a report on television about it, despite the fact that it mentioned their children.
  325. Article 74: 24 February 1999

  326. Another short piece appeared on 24 February 1999 under the heading "Focusing on abuse". It describes a call for the installation of CCTV in nurseries from parents whose children were alleged to have been abused by Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed.
  327. Article 75: 1 March 1999

  328. Charlotte Gapper wrote another piece in the issue for 1 March 1999 headed "New rules aim to weed out perverts". Yet again the photographs are published each with the caption "ABUSER" attached. The article itself describes how colleges across the North East were drawing up new guidelines for vetting students in the wake of the "Newcastle nursery abuse scandal". The theme is summarised in the heading "Colleges link up to make sure abusers cannot join child courses". There is a reference in the middle of the piece to Mr Lillie and Miss Reed having "abused at least 60 children in their care".
  329. Article 76: 19 March 1999

  330. Charlotte Gapper wrote another piece dated 19 March 1999 alongside the usual photographs with the captions "ABUSER". It describes the fight for compensation under the heading "Abuse families could fight all the way". Again the accusation is repeated that they abused "more than 60 youngsters" at the Newcastle nursery. One "mum" is quoted as saying:
  331. "My son was terrified out of his wits physically and sexually abused and still suffers flashbacks. He's still got to live with that for the rest of his life.
    I don't want to settle but fight through the courts and sue the council because of what they have done".
    A little later she adds
    "My child didn't ask to be raped and this is what I am fighting for. I hope the other parents stick it out and take it to court".

    Articles 77-78: 26 March 1999

  332. Peter Young published another "Exclusive" on the front page of the Chronicle for 26 March 1999 under the heading "Child abuse fury". There were six introductory paragraphs on the front page with the "full story" inside on page 2. The front page piece covers a "furious row" because the Council would not admit liability for "what happened at one of its day nurseries when children were abused". The reason given was that such an admission could invalidate the insurance policy which would be used for covering the compensation claim. An angry parent is quoted as saying:
  333. "The children were taken out of the nursery and abused so they can't say they weren't negligent."
  334. Inside on page 2 appear the usual photographs with the usual captions "ABUSER". There are eighteen paragraphs under the heading "Families' fury over report on nursery". Once again Mr Lillie and Miss Reed were said to have taken children out of the nursery and abused them. A representative of Parents Together Working Together is quoted as saying:
  335. "Had the nursery been run correctly, that would not have happened. As soon as they saw the children returning in a distressed state, something should have been done. Somebody has to be liable for the management of the nursery".
  336. Again reference was made to the Review Team's conclusion that they had been involved in paedophile ring that abused children.
  337. Articles 79-80: 27 March 1999

  338. On page 17 of the issue for 27 March 1999 there is a Chronicle comment under the heading "Video nasty". The point was made that had CCTV cameras been installed outside the nursery "…Reed and Lillie would have been captured on film taking children away to carry out their wicked attacks". The introductory paragraph observes:
  339. "PARENTS of children who suffered at the hands of evil nursery nurses Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed have every right to be disappointed by Newcastle City Council".
    That is because their pleas for cameras to be installed have "fallen on deaf ears".
  340. Article 80 was published on page 13 of the same issue under the heading "Parents' spy hope bites dust". There are 18 paragraphs devoted to the City Council's reaction to the call for the installation of CCTV cameras. There are also the usual photographs. This time the caption for Miss Reed was "ABUSE – Nursery nurse Dawn Reed" and for Mr Lillie "EVIL - Christopher Lillie later became a chef".
  341. The article was introduced as follows:
  342. "A CALL for spy cameras in council run nurseries in wake of Newcastle's child abuse scandal looks set to fail. Parents asked for cameras to protect children after the case of evil nursery nurses Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed.
    The pair were accused of abusing children at a council-run day nursery six years ago, but walked free after a crown court case collapsed".

    Article 81: 29 March 1999

  343. On 29 March 1999 a two page feature appeared in the Chronicle by Noreen Coltman under the heading "Dealing with evil when little children are suffering". There are 49 paragraphs dealing with the general problem of paedophilia, and how to deal with it, and a new campaign which had been launched by the NSPCC to tackle child cruelty. The article concludes by reference to a woman whose son was said to have been physically and sexually abused by Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed. She is quoted as saying that "only one thing can cure paedophiles" and adding:
  344. "Some people argue chemical castration but I think they should have their arms and legs chopped off to stop them getting anywhere near children. When I think what my son went through it really is unbelievable that these beasts got away with what they did for so long.
    My son was two and a half when the abuse started and he's nine now and he is still suffering".
  345. It is said that the woman's son was one of 60 pre-school children abused by Mr Lillie and Miss Reed.
  346. The mother was also quoted as saying:
  347. "My son not only suffered terrible sexual abuse which led to him having to have an aids test and treatment for a venereal decease, but he also had a knife held to his throat and was told his eyes would be cut out if he ever spoke about it".

    Article 82: 30 March 1999

  348. On page 33 of the issue for 30 March 1999, Miss Gapper published an article headed "Abuse row parents win their battle to be heard". Once again the photographs appear with the captions "PERVERT" for Mr Lillie and "ABUSER" for Miss Reed. Miss Gapper focused once again upon the family who claimed to have "blown the whistle" on child abuse by Mr Lillie and Miss Reed back in 1990. It was said that her complaints were ignored, "allowing Lillie and Reed to go on to abuse dozens more children at a Newcastle nursery". She also is quoted as describing the Report as a "joke".
  349. Articles 83-84: 2 April 1999

  350. On the front page of the Chronicle for 2 April 1999 appeared another article by Charlotte Gapper under the heading "Abuse pair fight claims". There are eight paragraphs by way of introduction with the "Full Story" (article 84) appearing on page 2. The introduction on the front page was in these terms:
  351. "STUNNED parents of abused nursery children were left reeling today after paedophiles Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed protested their innocence. The pair, who abused more that 60 children in a Newcastle council-run nursery are preparing to clear their names".
  352. There is reference to a fax from their then solicitors Bindman and Partners, indicating that in due course Mr Lillie and Miss Reed would be responding in full to all the allegations.
  353. Inside there is an 18 paragraph article under the heading "Nursery abuse duo say they are innocent". This time the photographs appear with captions "NOTHING WRONG" for Mr Lillie and "I'LL CLEAR MY NAME" from Miss Reed. Parents were described as being shocked by the "claim of innocence" made by the "couple… accused of abusing as part of a paedophile ring in Newcastle". Reference is made back to the Report and its conclusion that they were involved in the paedophile ring "which abused at least 60 children at the nursery". There is also a quotation from "one of the mums whose child was abused":
  354. "I don't know why Reed is going to comment after all this time.
    It would be interesting to see what they say and it would be really good if they went back to court. It seems really strange that they want to clear their names at this point."

    Article 85: 7 April 1999

  355. On 7 April 1999 Charlotte Gapper wrote a piece, eight paragraphs in length, under the heading "Lawyer in vow to clear abusers", in which she reported an announcement by Mr Geoffrey Bindman who was at that stage instructed on behalf of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed. The third paragraph includes the following allegation:
  356. "He said that the hated pair, accused of being part of a paedophile ring which abused children at a Newcastle nursery are in hiding in fear of their lives.
    But a representative of the Parents Together Working Together action group said: 'they have had six years to clear their names and have said nothing. If they were innocent they should have been screaming it front the rooftops.
    Now, six years down the line, when things are getting too hot, they are saying they are not guilty.
    There is no way my child made these things up. They were found not guilty in a court of law on a technicality because the children were too young to give evidence'".
  357. It did not seem to occur to anyone that they had been acquitted in 1994 and did not need to "scream their innocence" until the Review Team Report was published at the end of 1998. Accordingly, Mr Bindman was quoted as saying, "They have contacted me since there was a barrage of press comment about them. They obviously have become extremely worried".
  358. Articles 86-87: 20 April 1999

  359. Article 86 was published on pages 20-21 of the issue of the Chronicle for 20 April 1999 and attributed to K. Jordan. The two page spread consists of 25 paragraphs under the heading "Dreaming of a day when child abuse nightmare is ended". It consists of an interview with Margaret Asquith, who had just taken over the newly created post of head of children services for Newcastle. It does not actually refer to Mr Lillie or Miss Reed directly but is introduced by reference to "the Newcastle nursery abuse scandal".
  360. Article 87 is headed "Inquiries uncovered the scale of abuse". The article is not attributed to anyone, but consists of seven paragraphs referring to how the whole nation was shocked when the Report "into the Newcastle nursery abuse scandal" was published. It reports, and adopts, the suggestion that children were taken from the nursery and molested in houses and flats in the neighbourhood, and "evidence" that they were sometimes filmed. It also included a final paragraph referring to the fax from Mr Bindman's firm.
  361. Article 88: 23 April 1999

  362. There is a short article in the issue for 23 April 1999 under the heading "Rapped worker leaves", which is unattributed. This announces that Joyce Eyeington, suspended the previous November, has finally "quit". It alleges, on the basis of the Report, that her relationship with Brian Roycroft had "harmed the investigation into the abuse by Dawn Reed and Christopher Lillie, whose trial collapsed in 1994".
  363. Article 89: 26 April 1999

  364. Another short piece appeared in the Chronicle on 26 April 1999 under the heading "Parents' fury". It is alleged:
  365. "The parents of 60 youngsters suspected of being abused by Reed and Lillie have been invited to a meeting of the charity Childline and are furious that an organisation called 'Relatives and Friends of those falsely accused of sexual abuse' are to demonstrate on behalf of the pair".

    Articles 90-91: 30 April 1999

  366. On 30 April 1999 two articles appeared on page 5 of the Chronicle, both apparently by Julie Cush and Penny Spiller. Article 90 is headed "Lost tot scandal" and consists of 16 paragraphs. It refers to an incident where nursery school teachers were alleged to have taken a group of toddlers to a supermarket and lost one of them. A terrified three year old girl is alleged to have been left "wandering around the store's aisles for about 20 minutes". This provided an opportunity to refer back to "the wake of the Newcastle nursery abuse scandal". The other article (article 91) is headed "Parents standing by nursery staff". This contains nine paragraphs set in a box on the same page. It is introduced as follows:
  367. "THIS is the second scandal to rock the city's nursery school system and comes after a damning probe into the abuse scandal.
    Then, inspectors found that Dawn Reed and Christopher Lillie systematically abused youngsters in their care at a city nursery".

    Article 92: 12 May 1999

  368. Julie Cush wrote another article in the issue for 12 May 1999 under the heading "Blunder staff to go". The theme is summarised by the smaller heading, "More teachers are being removed from nursery after girl abandoned". This is a reference back to the "Lost tot" story but includes a paragraph in the following terms:
  369. "The case comes in the wake of the Newcastle child abuse scandal, when toddlers at a council-run nursery were taken out and abused by perverts in a paedophile ring".

    Articles 93-94: 17 May 1999

  370. On the front page of the Chronicle for 17 May 1999 a three paragraph article appeared under a large headline "5 years too late". There is another heading in smaller type at the top of the page: "Fury as child abuse pair break their silence".
  371. There is a photograph of Mr Lillie with the caption "WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG? – Christopher Lillie has protested his innocence at last". There is a smaller photograph of Miss Reed with the caption "DENIAL – but Dawn Reed is accused of abusing children at a Newcastle nursery school". The substance of the article is as follows:
  372. "A CLAIM that two Tyneside nursery nurses accused of child abuse are innocent sparked uproar today. The row followed an investigation which said the Independent Inquiry that concluded Mr Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed were guilty was flawed. The pair walked free 5 years ago when a court case against them collapsed. They protested their innocence but angry families are challenging them to go back to court".
    There is an invitation to turn to the full story on page 5.
  373. The article on page 5 is attributed to Peter Young, Dave Clark and Andrew McKegney. It is headed "Families' fury". It is also said in a smaller headline that "Claims that city nursery abuse duo are innocent, condemned by parents". There is a large photograph of Miss Reed over the article with a caption "DID SHE DO IT? – A new report says Dawn Reed was wrongly accused of child abuse". There is a smaller photograph of Mr Lillie alongside the text with the caption "BRANDED A CHILD ABUSER- The latest picture of Christopher Lillie". The article is in the following terms:
  374. "OUTRAGED families today condemned attempts to rubbish the enquiry into the Newcastle child abuse scandal.
    Families remain convinced that the report reached the correct conclusions in branding nursery nurses, Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed, guilty of child abuse.
    The case against them, at Newcastle Crown Court, collapsed after video evidence from alleged child victims was ruled inadmissible.
    An independent inquiry team later concluded children at the nursery were abused by Lillie and Reed and the victims of a paedophile ring.
    Parents were shocked by a report in a national Sunday newspaper following an investigation by journalist, Bob Woffinden, and author, Richard Webster suggesting inquiry conclusions were flawed.
    Reed, 28 and Lillie, 34 are protesting their innocence, but the families are asking why they refused to give evidence to the independent inquiry, chaired by Dr Richard Barker of the University of Northumbria. They also want to know if the authors spoke to any parents or members of the inquiry team. And they said Lillie and Reed should not be afraid to stand up in court and be cross-examined.
    Mr Woffinden, who campaigns against alleged miscarriages of justice, said today he believes Lillie and Reed are innocent.
    His information will be passed to Bindman & Co, the London lawyers representing Lillie and Reed. Mr Woffinden declined to say if he had spoken to parents or the enquiry team.
    Mr Woffinden said 'the families of the children have been through hell but the important thing is to make sure this story is told correctly and properly. The truth should never hurt anybody.'
    But one angry representative of the Parents Together Working Together group, fighting for justice for the families involved, said 'Parents will be outraged at this. Lillie and Reed have had every opportunity to protest their innocence at the independent inquiry but they kept quiet'.
    One parent who believes her son was abused by Lillie and Reed condemned the claims and said 'I helped out as a volunteer at the nursery at the time and I could see what they were like.
    If they wanted to clear their names, why didn't they come before the inquiry I'm sick of it – every time this comes up there is more sleepless nights'? "

    Article 95: 18 May 1999

  375. The next day Dave Clark and Peter Young returned to the same theme in an article on page 2 of the Chronicle. The headline was "Where do they get the cash?" There is another smaller heading "Abuse families demand to know who is backing the pair". There is a photograph of Miss Reed standing by a tree with an inset photograph of Mr Lillie. The caption is "MAINTAINING INNOCENCE – nursery nurses Dawn Reed and, inset, Christopher Lillie who were cleared of abusing children in 1994".
  376. The article consists of 13 paragraphs. The article queries how the "pair" can afford to be represented by Mr Bindman, or whether they are being represented free of charge. Once again, the point is taken that they should have spoken out a long time ago.
  377. It is said that families of the abused children are "outraged that doubt should be cast over the findings of the inquiry".
  378. The article concludes as follows:
  379. "The parents would like to see Lillie and Reed back in court so they could be cross-examined, but the only way that can now happen is through the civil action. That is still possible but it would take big money, the sort of money Lillie and Reed would appear to have found to sustain them".

    Article 96: 21 May 1999

  380. Article 96 appeared in the issue of the Chronicle for 21 May 1999 under the heading "Court bid by Lillie and Reed". It is attributed Charlotte Gapper and appears underneath photographs of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed. Above the photographs appears a heading "Nursery abuse pair in new legal threat". Underneath there is a caption "BRANDED – Nursery nurses Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed were named as child abusers in an independent report which rocked Newcastle City Council". The article consists of ten paragraphs. It quotes Mr Bindman as saying:
  381. "They are people without resources and in hiding and unemployed and in a very weak situation.
    I have only been involved for quite a short time. There's no evidence against them except very confused statements by very small children and in most cases made long after the event.
    There are statements by other children saying that Dawn and Chris did nothing to them at all. The evidence against them is incredibly weak. Of course they can say quite a lot about their experiences but they're in the position of being asked to prove they didn't do something".
  382. There is then reference to Mr Bindman's age, education and background.
  383. Article 97: 24 May 1999

  384. On 24 May 1999 under the heading "Local news" appeared an article by Lisa Hutchinson under the heading "TV cameras needed to prevent sex abuse". There is a photograph of Miss Reed with the caption "BRANDED BY REPORT – Dawn Reed was found not guilty in court, but an investigation into the case claimed there was abuse". A smaller picture of Mr Lillie appears with a caption "CASE DROPPED - Christopher Lillie was cleared by a court". The article contains 15 paragraphs.
  385. It is mainly concerned with the need for CCTV cameras to prevent attacks upon children at nurseries. This was apparently a suggestion made by Dr Barker at a Forum on Children and Violence in the City. He warned that the government's plan to increase day care provision for children, with the aim of encouraging women back to work, could mean more chances for abusers to "strike". The article also contains reference to Mr Lillie and Miss Reed having "walked free from court in 1994 after the case against them was dropped".
  386. Article 98: 1 June 1999

  387. On page 12 of the issue for 1 June 1999 there is an article by Charlotte Gapper headed "A disastrous holiday for sex-abuse family". It is primarily an article about an unsuccessful holiday at Santa Ponsa Holiday Park in Majorca. The unfortunate holiday makers were a woman and her 11 year old son. Since he was alleged to have been abused by Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed, the opportunity was taken to include photographs of them. Mr Lillie's is captioned "BRANDED AN ABUSER – nursery nurse Christopher Lillie" and Miss Reed's "ALLEGED ABUSER – nursery nurse Dawn Reed". It is said the holiday was intended to help the son "get over the trauma of the Newcastle nursery abuse".
  388. Article 99: 9 July 1999

  389. On 9 July 1999 in the "Chronicle Says" column there appears a four paragraph article under the heading "Answers now". It was said to be intolerable that Dawn Reed was "now involved in martial arts training, working in an environment where close contact with children is almost inevitable". The article concludes:
  390. "The proposals for tough monitoring of suspected child abusers, registers to keep track of their movements, and a locked door policy when it comes to future activity where it could pose a threat to youngsters, were all designed to provide the protection so clearly necessary. So what has gone so badly wrong?"

    Article 100: 7 July 1999

  391. Two days earlier, on 7 July 1999, there appeared on page 2 of the Chronicle an article by Peter Dickinson under the heading "Parents' fury as duo escape axe". There are, once again, two photographs published alongside the article. In Mr Lillie's case, it is caption "LABELLED AN ABUSER – Ex-nursery nurse Christopher Lillie". Miss Reed's photograph is caption "CONDEMNED BY REPORT – Former carer Dawn Reed". The article consists of 17 paragraphs describing how parents at the centre of the nursery abuse scandal have slammed the decision to let two Newcastle council workers keep their jobs. The workers referred to are Susan Eyeington and Peter Blythe, in respect of whom the City Council had apparently announced that they had not committed any acts warranting dismissal. Reference is made to the contents of the Report, alleging that Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed had abused "more than 60 children in their care". Parents were "disgusted" that Eyeington and Blythe had not been sacked. The article contains a quotation from one "mum", whose son is said to have developed major behavioural problems "because of the abuse".
  392. Articles 101-105: 19 July 1999

  393. On 19 July 1999 there was a two page spread across pages 2 and 3 of the Chronicle under the heading "Local News". The main article was headed "Scandal nurse is back in town". The article is attributed to Dylan Dronfield and Dave Clark. There is a prominent photograph of Miss Reed with the caption "NEW LIFE – Dawn Reed, who was at the centre of the Newcastle child abuse scandal, pictured when she was living in the Midlands". There is another photograph of her standing by a car with the caption "BACK HOME – Abuse scandal nurse Dawn Reed is helping out at Perth Green Community Centre". The article consists of 19 paragraphs alleging that "horrified parents" were angry to learn that Dawn Reed was "working alongside children at a martial arts club". One of the parents, whose son was said to have been molested by Dawn Reed and Christopher Lillie, says that she was "stunned". She is quoted as saying:
  394. "She tortured my son and to be honest I would trust Myra Hindley with my children more than I would her.
    She seems as nice as pie on the face of it but I would warn parents to keep a very sharp eye, especially as this must be a contact sport".
    Another "mum" is quoted as saying:
    "I wouldn't want my daughter training with her – you just never know do you, after all she has been accused of some terrible things".
  395. Article 102 is headed "A catalogue of pain". This includes a brief summary of past events and includes the following:
  396. "February 1994: Newcastle Council dismisses nursery nurses Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed for gross misconduct.
    July 1994: Lillie and Reed stand trial at Newcastle Crown Court. Lillie denies raping and molesting one girl, indecently assaulting four others and abusing a boy. Reed denies indecently assaulting two girls and one boy. The case collapses after Judge Christopher Holland [sic] refused to admit video evidence."
  397. There is also reference to the Report in November 1988 and its criticism of Council staff for "failing to spot the abuse or prevent it".
  398. Article 103 was published on the front page of the same edition as an "Exclusive" by Dylan Dronfield. The main heading is "TRACKED DOWN". There is a photograph of Dawn Reed with the caption "BACK ON TYNESIDE – Dawn Reed outside the community centre where she helps out".
  399. There is a sub-heading "WE FIND ABUSE SCANDAL NURSERY NURSE HELPING OUT AT TYNESIDE CLUB ATTENDED BY CHILDREN". The Chronicle claims to be able to reveal that Dawn Reed was "helping out at martial arts classes attended by children". She is said to have been "helping to organise lessons which are open to children from the age of four upwards".
  400. These revelations are said to have "sparked outrage … with parents of children she is alleged to have abused demanding action".
  401. Article 104 was published on page 2 under the heading "Innocent dad pays the price". The story relates to a Mr Gary Steele who lived near where Dawn Reed once lived and who apparently drove a similar car to her. He had endured a series of attacks on his car leaving him with him with a £1,000 bill. He blamed the trouble on claims by Mr Woffinden and Mr Webster that "Reed and Lillie were innocent".
  402. Article 105 also appeared on page 2, attributed to Dylan Dronfield, under the heading "Children told of ordeals and videos". The article harks back to the report of the previous November and its allegations that Mr Lillie and Miss Reed "abused children for their own needs but also subjected them to sexual attacks for a paedophile ring". It refers to the conclusions:
  403. "We find many children at the nursery were abused sexually, emotionally and physically by Lillie and Reed.
    Evidence suggests children were sometimes filmed when they were being 'abused' outside the nursery and have drawn the conclusion Lillie and Reed were procuring children for pornographic purposes as well as their own motives".
  404. The article also refers to "powerful testimony" from a small child naming Lillie and Reed as responsible for sexual abuse. The article refers to the allegations that Mr Lillie and Miss Reed had taken the children from the nursery to places called "libraries", which were in fact houses. It was alleged that they were abused and filmed on these trips.
  405. Article 106: 20 July 1999

  406. On 20 July 1999 there appeared an article, attributed to Dave Clark, under the heading "Crisis meeting over scandal nursery nurse". Council officials were described as reviewing their options after a Chronicle revelation to the effect that Dawn Reed had been involved in martial arts classes attended by children. Reference is made to her training alongside children at a Tae Kwondo martial arts club at the Perth Green Community Centre in Jarrow. The article continues:
  407. "She was branded an abuser in a report into alleged assaults involving up to 60 children in a Newcastle nursery and fled the North East.
    But she has now returned and parents are furious that she is involved with children at the popular sports club".
  408. Later on the article alleges:
  409. "Reed was prosecuted along with colleague Christopher Lillie, 34, for alleged child abuse in 1994, but both were formally acquitted when the judge ruled the evidence against them was unreliable.
    The independent report which later named her as an abuser has come under attack from lawyers who claim that the report itself is flawed.
    But Reed has never had to answer questions in court."

    Article 107: 21 July 1999

  410. On page 11 of the issue for 21 July 1999 there is an article headed "Abuse case woman is welcome to stay" by Charlotte Gapper. It reports a "martial arts instructor, defending the presence of Miss Reed at her classes. Matt Krywko is reported as saying he can see no reason why she should leave. There are 19 paragraphs altogether, four of which reflect the general theme:
  411. "Reed, who now uses her married name Jackson, and her former colleague Christopher Lillie, were cleared of abuse allegations when the court case against them collapsed in 1994.
    But an inquiry into the scandal later concluded that they had abused up to 60 children in their care at Newcastle nursery.
    Mr Krywko said 'The Traditional Tae Kwondo Association (North East) is well aware of her position.
    This person has not been proven guilty in the court of law and we respect that judgment, we follow the same principle and will not pass moral judgement about anybody unless proven guilty by the court of law'."

    Article 108: 22 July 1999

  412. On page 19 of the issue for 22 July 1999 Dave Clark wrote another piece headed "Suspects clamp". There is a smaller heading "MP moves to close loop hole where child abuse suspects can still work with children". There is a photograph of Miss Reed with the caption "ACCUSED – Dawn Reed caused a new uproar by going to a martial arts class attended by children".
  413. The article is introduced as follows:
  414. "A CAMPAIGNING MP behind a move to root out child abuse is told of her shock today at the Chronicle's Dawn Reed revelations.
    Debra Shipley had her Private Member's Protection of Children Bill passed, which should close a loop hole and stop those who are strongly suspected, but not convicted, of child abuse from working with children".
  415. A little later, the article continues:
  416. "The Chronicle revealed Reed, 28, branded a child abuser in an independent report into the Newcastle nursery scandal, has been training alongside children at a Tae Kwondo club.
    Reed was named with fellow nursery worker, Christopher Lillie, 34 in the report as abusing children and being part of a paedophile ring".
  417. Matt Krywko is quoted as saying that "everyone involved in the club believed Miss Reed was innocent, and that she had the backing of parents and trainers". But one "angry mum" angrily dismissed the claims and said that she would never take her son back. She is quoted as saying:
  418. "I didn't know Dawn Reed was going to the club, and I don't think many other parents knew.
    It's an outrage that the trainers did not tell us, and I'd like to thank the Chronicle for warning us. My son won't be going back. I used to drop him off at the gate and let him go in so I couldn't have seen her myself."

    Article 109: 23 July 1999

  419. The issue for 23 July 1999 contained an article by Charlotte Gapper under the heading "Family hope to get abuse answer". At the top of the page appear two photographs of Miss Reed and Mr Lillie both captioned "NAMED". The article consists of twelve paragraphs and returns to the theme of "the couple who said they blew the whistle on nursery nurses Dawn Reed and Christopher Lillie two years before they came under suspicion". It was reported that they were to have their case investigated because the Newcastle City Council was looking at cases which were missed, or not looked at in detail, at the time of the Review Team Report. The article recites an allegation from the Report:
  420. "We have been told Lillie took a particular interest in the youngest boy. They cared for the children away from other residents and staff in an old staff flat with a separate entrance".

    Article 110: 29 July 1999

  421. Dave Clark wrote an article published on page 4 of the issue for 29 July 1999 under the heading "Clamp down on abusers' jobs". There is a small photograph of Miss Reed with the caption "PERVERT – Nursery nurse Dawn Reed, branded a child-abuser is working with children again at a club in South Tyneside". There are 12 paragraphs in the article. It is on the theme that new legislation is to be introduced to make it more difficult for convicted paedophiles to work with young children for at least ten years. The article continues:
  422. "Although the legislation will cover paid work and voluntary activities, including sport and religious groups, it would not have prevented alleged paedophile Dawn Reed from joining the North East martial arts club where she has trained alongside children.
    The new order will apply only to anyone jailed for more than a year for serious criminal offences against children. Reed, 28, was acquitted of any offence by the courts but later branded an abuser by an official report into allegations of child abuse at a Newcastle nursery".
  423. A Home Office minister is quoted as saying that it was "vitally important to plug the loop holes which could be exploited by paedophiles seeking to gain access to children".
  424. Article 111: 23 September 1999

  425. On 23 September 1999 an article was published on page 9 of the Chronicle by Charlotte Gapper under the heading "Voices must be heard". The photographs of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed are published alongside the article with the joint caption "ACCUSED". The subject of the article is a new book published by Beatrix Campbell and Judith Jones (one of the Defendants in these libel proceedings) with the title "Stolen Voices". It is described by the Chronicle as hitting back at claims that abuse accusations are often more fiction than fact. The authors, who both live in Newcastle, are quoted as saying:
  426. "This book is about a scandal. It is about a decade of discovery and denial, a time towards the end of the 20th Century when the British state briefly took the side of children and almost instantly recoiled from the consequences, producing one of the most bewildering and tumultuous themes in British politics, in policing and in the welfare professions.
    The outcome? It became almost impossible for children to get justice in the British Courts".
  427. The article goes on to describe Judith Jones as being one of the four people on the independent Review Team, which investigated the scandal and concluded that Miss Reed and Mr Lillie had "abused at least 60 children in their care at a Council-run nursery".
  428. Other Media Coverage
  429. One of the unusual features of this case is that very little was said about the words complained of. I believe that the reasons for this are that there was so much coverage of the Review Team's allegations about the Claimants that it was virtually impossible to go through it all, and secondly the allegations were obviously so serious that there was little room for debate on different levels or shades of meaning. At one point in the trial I was handed a bundle labelled simply "Media Coverage" and left to read it. Neither counsel addressed me on it at any stage, but it nonetheless forms part of the case and I should say something about it.
  430. The bundle consisted of articles and broadcast items in the aftermath of the Report's promulgation. Apart from the 111 articles from the Newcastle Chronicle summarised above, there were some 306 items spread over a period from 11 November 1998 to 12 November 1999.
  431. The first item was a broadcast on BBC television at 6.30 p.m. on 11 November 1998 in anticipation of the Report's publication the following day. Reference was made by Luke Walton, Social Affairs Correspondent, to "uproar when the case collapsed of two Newcastle nursery nurses charged with indecent assault against toddlers within their care". The story also told how 64 children had been taken for medical assessment because they were "showing signs of abuse". Tony Flynn was quoted as saying, "I want the truth to come out and I want, you know, everyone publicly to see the truth come out at the end of the day".
  432. There was then massive coverage on the day of publication itself. There were broadcast items on national and local television and also on a number of radio stations. There were 61 items altogether on that day alone. For obvious reasons, the vast majority were broadcast rather than newspaper coverage. Some coverage was given to Professor Barker's press conference on Sky News, for example, at 2.00 p.m. He said:
  433. "It's relatively easy for a skilled person to get the general truth from them about major issues like, who abused you. But the problem might come that your child might get confused over whether or not the person who abused had got a red shirt on or a blue shirt on a particular occasion".
  434. On I.R. Metro at 1.00 p.m. he said
  435. "Whilst it is true that the risk of abuse can never be completely eradicated, we believe that this report contains some indication of how a system to protect children in early years and other settings can be improved. If that happens perhaps some of the pain and suffering endured by the children and families involved in this case may have been put to good purpose".
  436. On BBC television, North East, at 1.32 p.m. it was said that:
  437. "A damning report published in the last few hours has revealed a catalogue of child abuse at a Newcastle City Council day nursery. Some of the victims were only two years old. The Report on the running of the Nursery, which can't be named to protect the identity of the young victims, highlights several key points. It names former Nursery workers, Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed who deliberately abused children in their care. It says others, who weren't officers or elected members of the Council – were also involved in the conspiracy. Proper recruitment procedures were not followed. And Brian Roycroft, Newcastle's former Director of Social Services was criticised for allowing personal relationships to interfere with management of the case. The Report is a severe embarrassment to Newcastle City Council…"
    There was also much criticism of the perceived inadequacies of the criminal justice system and the need for courts to be more accessible to very young children.
  438. At 6.00 a.m. on Radio 4 James Naughtie introduced an item:
  439. "An independent Report is coming out this morning into a nursery run by Newcastle City Council, where it is alleged more than 60 children were sexually abused. It is expected, the Report, to be critical of the way the council handled the really quite dreadful case. Parents say their complaints were not taken seriously, there were not proper checks on staff. An awful familiar story. Two nursery nurses were found not guilty of abuse of the children in 1994. The case virtually collapsed".
    There then followed a long item including part of an interview with Claire Routledge, the solicitor acting for some of the families, who said, "There was quite horrific medical evidence showing very unpleasant injuries to the children which were of a sexual nature".
  440. I have provided merely brief extracts from the saturation coverage, since there would be little point in going into greater detail.
  441. On the following day, 13 November, there was still television and radio coverage but the newspapers, both national and local, were now able to publish summaries of the Report. There were 42 items altogether, including articles in the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Express, the Sun, the Daily Record, the Times, the Daily Mirror, the Daily Star, the Western Daily Press, the Western Mail (Wales) and the Newcastle Journal.
  442. In the Guardian, for example, under the heading "Parents to sue Council over sex abuse at Nursery", there appeared an article by Peter Hetherington, which included the following:
  443. "PARENTS of young children who suffered systematic sexual abuse at a Nursery in Newcastle Upon Tyne were last night planning to sue the City Council for substantial damages after an independent report outlined a string of failures by the authority.
    After a lengthy investigation, following the collapse of a child abuse trial involving two nursery nurses, a four-strong inquiry team said toddlers had been taken away from the Nursery for short periods – and it hinted broadly that a paedophile ring was in operation.
    The team said that as well as the two nurses at the centre of the affair, Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed, it was clear that others outside the Nursery were involved in abusing children 'for their own gratification and probably also for production of pornographic materials'.
    They added: 'These people have not been found.'
    With 64 children affected by abuse at the Shieldfield Nursery, and 434 formal complaints made against the Council's Social Services department, Clare Routledge, a solicitor representing 27 families, said her clients intended to pursue compensation claims for all the children affected and were preparing legal action against the council…".
    The article continues with quotations from Clare Routledge, referring to a "paedophiles' charter" and to the fact that paedophiles (obviously referring, in this instance, to Mr Lillie and Miss Reed) are "sophisticated people and they know how to target their victims and escape justice".
  444. Inside The Guardian on the same day there was a large spread under the heading "Nursery staff ran paedophile ring". There are pictures of Dawn Reed and Christopher Lillie and of Professor Barker. It included the passage:
  445. "Crucially, the team found that as well as Lillie and Reed, others outside the Nursery were involved in abusing children 'probably also for the production of pornographic material'.
    The Report adds: 'These people have not been found'.
    Asked by the Guardian whether this implied the existence of a paedophile ring, Mr Barker, after consultation with the Team's solicitors sitting alongside said people would have to draw their own conclusions".
  446. In the Daily Telegraph the same day, there was also extensive coverage including the words:
  447. "The Independent Complaints Review Team, led by Dr Richard Barker, Head of the Division of Child Family Studies at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle, catalogued damning evidence against the Council. It found that: The Nursery was run for the convenience of the staff not the children.
    Staff failed to recognise the distress among the abused children.
    Staff ignored parents' sex abuse concerns and blamed the families.
    Parents were wrongly suspected of abuse because of staff attitudes.
    There was a failure to recognise the high number of so-called 'accidents' that had occurred under the care of the abusers.
    The Report also found the Nursery had been manipulated by Reed and Lillie for their own purposes".
  448. The Daily Mail for the same day had a front page lead story under the headings "NIGHTMARE AT THE NURSERY" and "Shocking report reveals how ruthless paedophiles robbed the very young of their innocence and their childhoods". It was alleged that more than 60 children were involved and continued:
  449. "Children as young as two were repeatedly molested by staff and taken out of the building to be supplied to paedophiles for filmed sex sessions.
    The abuse led by nurses Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed left scores of families damaged, perhaps forever. The children, robbed of their innocence before they were old enough to go to school, are haunted by the attacks and the accompanying threats.
    They were warned that if they said anything their parents would be shot. The abusers said they would come out of the children's wardrobes to get them".
  450. There was extensive coverage also inside the newspaper which included photographs of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed, described as "partners in evil" and "the perverted pair who violated the youngsters in their charge". It was said that they were appointed as child carers despite coming from disturbed backgrounds and that neither of them should ever have been let near a child. It also contains the following passage based on the Report:
  451. "The Report says that there is no evidence that the pair arrived together at the Nursery as some form of paedophile conspiracy to procure children.
    It was more likely that they met by chance and that one or the other was already connected to a paedophile group and then 'coerced, pressurised or encouraged the other into becoming involved into the sexual abuse and exploitation'."
  452. There was a leading article in the Daily Mail the same day under the heading "A depth of depravity that defies belief":
  453. "THERE are no words adequate to describe the perverted creatures who inflicted such horrors on tiny children at that Nursery in Newcastle. Some depths of human depravity simply defy belief.
    Here was an environment where babies and toddlers should have been safe and secure, a place where trained staff would care for them with warmth and love. Instead the children were delivered into the hands of sexual predators who systematically abused them in a manner which numbs the imagination.
    Two members of staff, Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed, made it a practice to take toddlers -–some of them less than two years old – out of the Nursery on the flimsiest pretexts and deliver them to convenient locations around the city, where they were abused and filmed for the pornographic pleasure of paedophiles.
    As we report elsewhere the children lived in uncomprehending terror at what was happening to them. Even today, some five years after Lillie and Reed were charged, many of the children and their shattered parents need continued therapeutic support.
    … take the way Lillie got his appointment.
    References and police checks were not adequately taken up. He was unqualified. He had himself been through an unsettled childhood and home life. He spent years in care. The Report says that 'his experiences were such that he should never have been allowed to work with children'…"
  454. In the Express the headline was "Nursery couple sexually abused 'up to 60 children'". Again the allegation from the Report which was given greatest prominence, not surprisingly, was that Mr Lillie and Miss Reed were "part of a paedophile pornography ring". It continued:
  455. "Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed procured children as young as two to be filmed as they were sexually abused, the Report found. The victims were attacked in Nursery toilets and at Lillie's flat.
    A total of 60 children under five were examined for evidence of sexual abuse during a police investigation".
  456. Professor Barker's allegation is also repeated:
  457. "It is clear others outside the Nursery were involved in abusing children for their own gratification and probably for the production of pornographic material".
  458. The Sun on 13 November 1998 carried the headline "Beasts abused 60 children". Mr Lillie and Miss Reed were described as "two perverts who abused up to 60 children and got away with it". It continued:
  459. "Other toddlers at the Council run centre were farmed out to the evil pair's paedophile pals".
  460. There was considerable coverage inside on page 9 of the newspaper including, for example, the paragraph:
  461. "The Report told how children were filmed as they were abused in the Nursery toilets or at Lillie's home to make videos for paedophiles".
  462. There was also a box in the middle of the page with the heading "HELP US FIND THESE FIENDS". The Sun called upon its readers to help find out where "perverts Lillie and Reed are now". Phone numbers were supplied so that readers could supply relevant information.
  463. The headline in The Times for 13 November was "Nursery staff 'were part of child sex ring'". The introductory paragraph highlights the same point:
  464. "TWO Nursery teachers who allegedly abused more than 60 children in their care were probably part of a paedophile ring, an investigation has concluded. Some of the victims were less than two years old."
  465. Other coverage in The Times on the same day included a quotation from the mother of Child 22:
  466. "He had been carted around the homes of other perverts. Reed and Lillie were not the only people to abuse him. He spoke of a man in a wheelchair and another person he referred to as just a dafty man".
  467. In the Mirror for the same day on page 17 appeared photographs of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed at the head of an article summarising the allegations in the Report. There was a sub-heading "457 complaints at Nursery where children were abused.. so why did no one in authority take action?". Under a photograph of Miss Reed there appears a caption "SHAMED Dawn Reed … 'she filmed children'".
  468. Coverage continued periodically throughout November 1998 both in newspapers and on television. There was a further burst of activity on 11 December 1998 when the City Council gave its first response to the recommendations of the Report. There was then a significant reduction in coverage although allegations continued to surface regularly from time to time. In 1999 there began to appear some balancing coverage, in the sense that the Mail on Sunday and some other newspapers gave coverage to the Claimants' denials and to the possibility of their bringing defamation proceedings to clear their names.
  469. In May of that year, for example, the Journal was giving coverage to the comments of Mr Patrick Cosgrove Q.C. and, in particular, to his warning that it would be foolish to rely upon the Report's findings "…that children were subject to abuse by a paedophile group and were filmed for pornographic purposes". He is quoted as saying, "Given the other flaws in the Report, it would be foolish to rely on these findings".
  470. On 21 May 1999 space was given in the Journal for Professor Barker to reply to Mr Cosgrove under the heading "Abuse inquiry leader hits back". On 23 May of the same year there was an article by Rosie Waterhouse in the Mail on Sunday reporting a "Call for inquiry into 'flawed report on Nursery child abuse'". Mr Arnold, leader of the opposition, was quoted as saying, "I no longer know what to believe. I am a magistrate and I hear alarm bells".
  471. A Conservative councillor on the other hand, Mr Mike Summersby, came to the Report's defence in the correspondence columns of the Journal on 24 May:
  472. "GIVEN what is at stake for those concerned, we should not be too surprised by recent attacks on the Abuse In Early Years Report.
    These spurious attacks, together with belated protestations of the innocence of Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed by two journalists whose speciality is to challenge legal decisions, have all the appearance of an orchestrated campaign designed to create a climate of doubt around the findings of the independent Review Team which investigated abuse in a Newcastle Council-run Nursery.
    This may be of some value to the Council's insurers. Coincidentally, of course. But those best served by the Report's critics are child abusers everywhere. They will take great comfort in the certain knowledge that there will always be those in high legal places who will come to their aid with suggestions that the abuse is more likely to be at home and that, anyway, the evidence of very young children is unreliable.
    Paedophiles will know that, provided they are careful to select nursery age victims, they face little danger of being convicted".
  473. There is no need for me to set out further citations from the very extensive coverage given over that period. It will suffice to say that there are many repetitions of the grave allegations about the Claimants contained in the Review Team's Report (as well as a small number of misrepresentations or distortions). In so far as they were natural and foreseeable consequences of the original publication, the Claimants seek to recover compensation from the Review Team in respect of those republications.
  474. 5) The issues raised in the litigation

  475. The Claimants have brought separate proceedings, in which for the most part the issues overlap, against the Newcastle City Council (first Defendant), Professor Richard Barker (second Defendant), Judith Jones (third Defendant), Jacqui Saradjian (fourth Defendant), and Roy Wardell (fifth Defendant). Throughout the proceedings, for convenience, the second to fifth Defendants have been referred to as the "Review Team".
  476. Reliance is placed on various publications of the allegations contained in the Report officially published on 12 November 1998. Although commissioned by the Newcastle City Council, the members of the Review Team were supposed to be genuinely independent of it and, accordingly, it has not been suggested that the Council is vicariously responsible for the primary publication by the Team members of the Report itself shortly before 12 November 1998. On the other hand, not surprisingly, they have received an indemnity from the Council in respect of any liability brought about by their publication of Report.
  477. The Claimants have selected certain passages in the Report for complaint. It is necessary to set them out in full, as it is the various publications of these words that constitute the cause or causes of action (the numbering on the left relates to pages in the Report). These are the passages complained of by Dawn Reed:
  478. "i We have concluded that many children, some less than two years of age, were abused both in and outside the nursery.

    We have found many of the events and incidents that were believed by some to indicate a conspiracy proved to have taken place. However having carefully considered all the evidence available we conclude that we are satisfied that there was no organised planned conspiracy by Newcastle City Council officers and elected members to procure children at Shieldfield nursery for abuse, or to cover up what happened at the nursery and elsewhere. We do think that there are individuals -- Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed -- who did probably conspire with others unknown, but we conclude that these others were not officers or elected members of the City Council.

    iii There was a failure to notice and consider the significance of the large number of 'accidents' Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed recorded on children in their care, and a subsequent failure to notice and consider that an accident book covering the period immediately prior to Chris Lillie's suspension is missing.

    Children were frequently and inappropriately taken out of the nursery by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed on the flimsiest of pretexts ....

    v A lack of an overall steer by Brian Roycroft and a low key response to the first allegations from within the nursery sector contributed to the nursery staff and their management's denial that abuse had occurred for some months after the first suspension ..........

    ...........Over 1450 children came into contact with Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed during their training and employment, and whilst many have been identified the information given to some parents minimised what might have happened. There has been an apparent failure to contact or evaluate some of the children concerned.

    1 This document considers the case of young children abused whilst they were being cared for outside their families. The location of the abuse was initially perceived to be in one small group of children, the evidence is that it was much more widespread than that.

    2 Police and Social Services child protection investigations led to papers being submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service and a subsequent criminal trial which collapsed in the initial stages when the judge directed that 'not guilty' verdicts be returned on the two defendants. This was because of problems which were anticipated in dealing with the evidence of young children, as the defendants had not admitted to the charges.

    18 We are .... deeply aware that many parents prior to and immediately after our appointment had been terribly keen that the review into Shieldfield should be held in public, in part to compensate for what they perceived as the prematurely truncated public court proceedings involving the two alleged perpetrators of the abuse.

    20 In the case of the nursery staff, parents were not always clear about who might be the subject of their complaint -- for example, many parents complained that staff in the nursery should have noticed the effects of abuse amongst the nursery children cared for by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed.

    25 The overriding concern of parents was that children left in the care of staff at Shieldfield Social Services day nursery were abused.

    27 The overall concern in this category was that it was the poor management of the nursery that created the condition which allowed the children in the nursery to be abused.

    The complaints specifically referred to: .....................

    29 The overall concern was that the abuse has gone on unnoticed, and that there were behaviour and incidents that the nursery staff should have picked up and seen as signs of something untoward occurring.

    43 The college also stated that at the time of the (alleged) offences Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed were Newcastle City Council employees: 'there is no responsibility on the college concerning any checks or supervision related to their employment'. This appeared to overlook the possibility that Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed could have abused children whilst on placement, and seemed to minimise the college's responsibility as the educators and trainers of Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed for their future practice.

    63 On 12 May 1993 [Dawn Reed] was suspended from duty and on 22 April 1994, was dismissed after a disciplinary hearing on the grounds that she sexually, physically and verbally abused children attending the nursery. She appealed within the Council's internal disciplinary procure against this decision and on 11 May 1994, her appeal was unsuccessful and the decision to dismiss was confirmed.

    90-1 In one case a member of staff was rightly concerned about an actual injury to a child's vagina. She acted appropriately and took the child to be examined. Susan Eyeington was able to recall this incident but dismissed it as saying she believed that the child 'had fallen or had had some accident at home'. Other staff told us that they knew that this child was very frightened of going into the Red Room. However we do not know if Susan Eyeington was aware of this at the time. She was unable to reconsider this in hindsight of what is now believed to have happened at Shieldfield nursery. When asked the same question as almost everyone else who was interviewed by the Review Team, Susan Eyeington did say that she thought that 'something awful' happened at Sheildfield nursery. When asked to explore that further she was eventually able to say by that she meant 'it had come to light that a number of children have been abused'. Regardless of her knowledge that Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed had been dismissed for the abuse of children, she struggled to associate those two workers, particularly Dawn Reed, with the abuse of those children.

    106 Following the action against Chris Lillie ... Dawn Reed had four weeks to manipulate the evidence in the nursery if she so wished. If there were other perpetrators in the nursery they also had time to pressurise children, and to interfere with evidence.

    135 It has been clear to the Review Team that in considering a way forward in the investigation of sexual abuse of very young children we must question the pivotal role of the video interview in the investigation. Its central importance will for good reason concern parents who may feel that the court processes which might flow from it might be not only abusive but also, as in this case, disappointing.

    143 It was decided that the situations of all the children attending the nursery during April 1993 (Stage I) and all the children who had attended the nursery whilst Chris Reed and Dawn Reed had worked there (Stage II) should be examined. It was agreed that Social Services and the police would make contact with all the parents who currently had children attending the nursery. It was noted at this meeting that over 200 children had passed through the nursery during the period of Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed's employment. The potential enormity was being considered. ...... The information that was presented was that there were 26 children about whom there were concerns, including changes of behaviour, sore bottoms, sexualised behaviour, and changes in toileting habits.

    148 During September a child who had previously been at the nursery began to disclose abuse by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed. This child, child F, was medically examined and clear evidence of sexual abuse followed. Over three video interviews, she detailed abuse of herself and other children by Chris Lillie, and to a lesser extent Dawn Reed, and she also mentioned other nursery staff's names. Her testimony in these videos, which we have seen, is extremely powerful and provided persuasive evidence of her abuse in the nursery and elsewhere.

    150 By September news of the allegations had begun to reach other parents; in addition many of those parents who had thought that their child had not been hurt, were thinking otherwise as their children began to talk. Some of these children were found to have medical evidence of abuse. Nursery staff told us that the situation was becoming very difficult. They had expected that there would be an improvement and a return to normal, even that Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed would return to work. However by September there were further disclosures, further police action and a growing realisation of the seriousness now reflected in the remand of Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed. The conclusions that something very wrong had occurred at the nursery was unavoidable.

    154 In relation to the possibilities of ongoing child protection concerns about children with whom Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed had come into contact, a process developed in which, as we have shown, children were categorised into 3 different Stages. The Part 8 Overview Report notes that Stage I constituted those 60 children who had places at the nursery on April 16 1993, the day Chris Lillie was suspended, Stage II those 230 children who had had places at the nursery during the period of Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed's employment there, and Stage III those 1162 children who Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed would appear to have had contact with during their careers as nursery workers, childminders, relief residential staff, etc. Therefore, at least 1452 children were potentially involved.

    155 In relation to their role as employers, as outlined elsewhere in this document, the Social Services Department suspended Chris Lillie in April and Dawn Reed in May 1993 and subsequently dismissed them for sexually, physically and verbally abusing children.

    156 Stage III ... involved the examination of the large number of children with whom Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed had come into contact prior to working at Shieldfield nursery. The need for such an investigation occurs because evidence tends to indicate that those who sexually abuse children tend to have a long history of involvement in such activity — this had been highlighted by the case of Frank Beck whose history of abuse as a residential social worker with children for Leicester Social Services Department and others, received widespread publicity when he was found guilty on 17 counts of sexual and physical assaults of children in his care (including buggery and rape) on 29th November 1991 ...

    159 We were told that the results of Stage III were that no children emerged about whom there were child protection concerns relating to Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed. .... It is the Review Team's opinion as we discuss later, that this conclusion was not merited on the basis of the evidence we heard and saw. There is evidence, some of which is detailed below, that possible abuse by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed was missed in Stage III, that some situations were never assessed at all, and that in some cases the approach was too low key and minimised the possibilities of abuse.

    162 On 7 March 1994 a memo from the computer data advisor gave details of establishments and settings worked in by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed and their 'risk' ratings. An undated list of March 1994 we have seen appears to be this rating ....

    163 ..... The notion of risk and abuse is problematic. Whilst it is clear that there may have been a difference of opportunity between different settings, it is not automatically the case that those in 'low risk' groups were necessarily safer than those in 'high risk' groups. .... Unfortunately, we also do not feel that those who abuse children cannot also abuse adults, eg in the Frank Beck case he abused both children and adults, the latter did not necessarily find it any easier to report the abuse.

    We feel that was an error of judgment to have classified Stage III in this way, all those whom Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed had been in contact with, including the residents of elderly homes, should have been considered to have potentially been equally at risk.

    170 Fernwood, a large Victorian House set in extensive grounds, was a residential establishment based approximately one mile away from Shieldfield nursery. .... Whilst it was still a children's home, on two separate occasions sibling pairs of young children were placed in Fernwood, the J's and the K's. Because of their ages, it was decided to use nursery staff to assist in their care, and Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed were amongst the limited number of staff who volunteered, for overtime pay, to care for these children after their normal working day at the nursery ......

    .... One little boy who was cared for by Dawn Reed exhibited sexualised behaviour which concerned staff and was recorded......

    171 .....One set of siblings, noted as having been moved out of the area having been returned to the care of their parents, the implications being that they were not contactable. The parents were therefore unaware of the potential risk from Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed........ The other brother and sister were picked up by Stage III. Indeed they were interviewed because social workers were concerned about their recording in the day book. We were able to interview the social worker who was able to confirm that he did speak to the boy, who by this time was 8 years old and able to speak coherently. He described being cared at Fernwood by a woman, for a short time, who had hurt him and frightened him.

    172 ...........we asked Mike Murphy for his views. He agreed that there was a high risk that these children had been abused in care .....

    .... Fernwood thus needed to be included as part of Stage III of the investigation. It was not clear which children other than the J's and the K's Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed had been in contact with, some children and young people were still in local authority care, others were not. The records, which differ, indicate that between 44 and 50 children were involved from Fernwood.

    178 We are also concerned that clear evidence from Stage III, that some of the children involved appeared to have been abused by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed, was misinterpreted and not followed through appropriately. We conclude therefore, that the results of Stage III indicate that some of the children in these various other settings had also possibly been abused by Chris Lillie and/or Dawn Reed.

    196 .... As has been mentioned, nearby in the city of Newcastle immediately prior to these events, other parents had experienced their children being abused whilst in the care of local authority employees, when Jason Dabbs, a student on placement in a local authority nursery, sexually abused children, and was subsequently imprisoned. .... We have been told that the Shieldfield parents were able to learn from some of the experiences of the Dabbs parents.

    198 This plan noted that two nursery nurses were, at that time, in custody on charges of sexual abusing up to 240 children who had been in their care in the nursery.

    209 Whilst it is recognised that the following sections may be very difficult and distressing to read, the Review Team felt that it was important that the children's disclosures were described. ..... The children described what had happened to them at the nursery prior to the suspension of Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed over the months that followed. Many of these disclosures were not included as part of the criminal proceedings.
    Both girls and boys describe being sexually assaulted in Shieldfield nursery and when they were taken out of the nursery. Within the nursery the children only name Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed as the perpetrators of abuse. However two children both mentioned that another member of nursery staff (Jackie) dealt with them when they were bleeding after being abused. The member of staff denies this occurred. When taken out of the nursery a number of children describe other people also being involved in the abuse.
    The children not only described what happened to them but also what they saw happening to other children. On the basis of these disclosures, children who had not been able to talk of their experiences or because of their young age could not talk of their experiences were identified. When investigations were carried out, in many of these cases physical evidence was found that validated the children's testimonies.

    210 - 216 At the nursery

    Boys and girls describe being sexually assaulted and witnessing other children being sexually assaulted by Chris Lillie and to a lesser extent by Dawn Reed. These assaults were said to have taken place in the toilets, in a cupboard, and in the play house at the nursery. For example one boy said that Chris Lillie had held his penis and 'rubbed it until it hurt'. One girl said that when she was angry with her at lunchtime, Dawn Reed had taken her to the toilet and put cutlery into 'into her bum and fairy'. Another child said a 'hammer with water coming out of it 'was put into her 'jenny', her 'bottom' and 'on her head'. Another child describes Chris Lillie 'weeing on his hair'. Children also describe being shouted at and hit, particularly by Dawn Reed. One child said that 'Dawn did most of the scary stuff'.
    Out of the nursery – the places to which children say they were taken
    Children describe being taken to many places by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed. Some of these trips out seemed to be innocuous while at other times the children describe being taken to places where they were abused. The children said that they were taken to 'the library' but said they were 'different libraries'. They said various things about these libraries such as they had no books and you could eat there and sleep there. The places that the children later pointed out to be libraries were in fact normal houses and flats.
    The children were able to take parents to and/or describe places to which the parents had no idea their children had ever been. Parents were also surprised at the level of distress and panic some children experienced when they went to these places. Sometime in the course of a routine journey, a child would suddenly become distressed and identify a place that they said they had been taken to by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed. One child had such a reaction to a house near St Dominic's. The child said that that was 'where Chris lives, other people go there too. Dawn goes with us and that's where she hurts children'. One child took his family near to a railway track where he says he was taken by Chris Lillie. Where he pointed to looked like a dead end but he said there was a gap in the fence and hedge to get through and on the other side was 'a long house'. On further investigation the parents found that the child was correct; there was a path through on the other side of which were two mobile homes. However the child then panicked saying 'Don't go in. Your bum will get sore'. When investigating this place the police found a half burnt pair of child's underpants, of a similar colour, style and make to one that the child was missing. One child described a house with a garden. Another child talked of going to a place where horses were. The child describes falling asleep and waking up with no clothes on. He said Dawn covered him with a blanket.
    Several children told of a house with a black door in a named road. Children were also able to give a detailed description of the man who lived in the house which proved to be accurate. A parent said that when she took her child near that house she 'regressed and went into a panic state'. The child said 'the man who lived there was known as her daddy'. Children also talked of being taken into lifts to flats. Children talked of going to Chris Lillie's home and children identified this accurately. All the places that the children identified were within walking distances of Shieldfield nursery, close to local parks or en route to the Civic Centre.
    Two member of the Review Team were taken by a parent on the route that her child had taken her from Shieldfield nursery to what is now know to be Chris Lillie's home, at the time, in Red Barnes. The members of the Team were struck by the complexity and intricacy of the route, which was not the most direct one and which would have been unknown to many local residents, let alone a very young child. The Team members shared the parent's surprise as to how a child could have know such a route.
    As well as taking children out with Dawn Reed, Chris Lillie also took children out alone, for example to pick up pay slips or to go to a shop or hairdressers.
    What children say they experienced
    Children describe acts that they endured in these places that would be difficult to understand as anything other than sexual, physical and emotional abuse by Chris Lillie and/or Dawn Reed and/or other people. They describe other people being present some of the time. One child said 'they gave you to strangers'. Sometime the children referred to these people as 'other mummies and daddies'. In these places the children describe cameras, including video cameras, being used.
    They described 'games' which included doctors and nurses. The described a 'white ambulance car and being been cranked up like a hospital bed'. Another child told her mother she had been to the seaside and laid on towels. The children describe Chris and Dawn being in bed together with no clothes on; 'Chris lying on Dawn's tummy'; 'they were fighting in bed with no clothes on' and 'a child being in the bed with them'; Dawn being in the bath with children, one child said that she and another child had to sit in the bath with Dawn 'like fairies and not cry'. One child described as Chris Lillie's 'willy pointing to the ceiling'. A child talked about 'Chris's willy getting bigger and sweeties would come out and I (the child) would get some'. The same child talked of 'more than one willy'. Another child talked of 'the daft man hurting my bottom'. The child said that 'Chris had told him he's daft and it wouldn't happen again but it did'. It was reported children said that 'he made blood in their bottoms' and 'he turned tiddlers round and round'. One child described how Chris Lillie had put 'his tiddler in her fairy' while she was sitting on the edge of a settee in his house. Some children (boys and girls) also physically illustrated how they were held and what was done to them while in this position indicating they had been raped. They also demonstrated what had been done to them by using dolls and/or teddy bears.
    Several children described being give an injection which, we deduce from their descriptions, contained some form of analgesic. One child described injections in the arms, legs, and bottoms that 'make me go whoooo' and 'they hurt my fairy' but after injections 'it did not hurt'. Another child said it make 'bottoms feel alright'. Another child called it 'nice juice into bottoms so it would not hurt', and another said needles in his bottom 'make him dead'. Another child also talked of 'nasty people' putting 'cream on bottom'.
    Other people children say were involved

    Children described several other adults being involved in the abuse of them; 'an old woman who looked funny like a man'; 'man dressed as a woman'; 'Kelly'; 'lady', 'Michelle, with red hair'; 'Neil who had a camcorder, he was laughing'; 'a woman called Doreen'; 'Doreen was in bed with Chris'; 'a nasty doctor – Alistair with brown hair'; 'Larry – no eyes and a dog'; 'Susan and James (big people)'.
    Apart from Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed there is no evidence that any other staff of the nursery were involved in the abuse of children. Two children did suggest that a third member of staff was involved; but they each named a different person, so that their allegations were wholly uncorroborated. Both persons were questioned by the police, who took no further action. We accept that Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed were the only nursery staff involved in the abuse.
    Strategies which appear to have been used to control the children
    Children have variously stated they have been 'shouted at', 'sworn at', 'smacked', 'pinched', 'hit' and 'locked in cupboards', 'punched in the belly', 'hit on the willy', called 'a bastard', 'naughty', 'horrible', and 'shitty knickers' by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed.
    They also describe many threats if they told about what was happening. These threats were in relation to the children themselves, their parents or grandparents. For example children were led to believe that they or their family would die. They say they were told 'a man will shoot daddy'; 'a boy and girl had been stabbed because they told their mum'; 'Chris could get into the house at any time and mum will die'. Other threats the children were able to talk about were of monsters, and a dog that would hurt you or scratch your fairy (vagina). One child described Dawn Reed stabbing an orange and saying that she would do that to their eyes. The children were told that the police did not believe children and if children told they would be locked up. Another child said that if they told the lift doors would get stuck and they would stay in the lift forever.
    Behaviours the children were said to exhibit
    Complainants describe changes in their children's behaviours after they attended the nursery. A number of parents describe talking about their concerns in relation to their children's behaviours to staff at the nursery. In some cases parents say they told Susan Eyeington and/or Audrey Palmer about the difficulties but in most cases they say that Dawn Reed was the person they discussed the child's difficulties with as she was the class teacher. However whoever they told of their concerns they say that the member of staff dismissed them as being 'normal', 'the terrible twos', or due to something that was happening in the family.
    The most common symptoms parents described was an increase in wetting and to a lesser degree, soiling. Many children were described as being afraid of going to the toilet. Children who had been previously 'potty/toilet trained' regressed to having frequent 'accidents'. A number of children developed urinary tract problems from trying to retain urine and some children developed problems with constipation. Children experienced soreness of the genital and/or anal region which was generally attributed to 'wetting' or children not 'wiping themselves properly' after going to the toilet. There was more than one incident involving blood on knickers or in nappies.
    Parents also noted that children they had previously experienced as cheerful, confident, outgoing and/or friendly, became withdrawn, unhappy and had a tendency to be frightened of and/or aggressive towards strangers. A number of parents describe children seeming 'cut off' at time, as if in a daze. There was a higher level of 'clinging' to parents and a reluctance to be left at the nursery. Parents described children screaming and/or crying on the way to the nursery.
    Parents described an increase in difficult behaviours including an increase in tantrums. Some children's speech regressed and/or was inhibited and when the abuse was disclosed their speech seemed to improve dramatically. Parents described children regressing in other ways such as going back to using a dummy or a comfort blanket and needing a sleep in the day.
    Many children became quite aggressive and would direct this aggression towards adults, including their parents and also towards other children. Some children began to harm themselves in some way; hitting themselves, head-banging, picking at their skin.
    Almost all the complainants described behaviours that indicated the children had a high level of fear. At night this manifested itself as sleeping difficulties which included frequent nightmares and waking from sleep shouting and screaming, difficulties in going to bed and only being able to sleep in bed with their parent/s.
    The children were also described as seeming to develop a great many fears of things to which they had previously not shown any distress. These fears manifested themselves during the day as well as by night. Parents related children showing uncharacteristic terror in relation to nappy cream, baths, loud noises, lifts, old women, men on roofs, an elderly man, dogs, ghosts, monsters, clowns, masks, dressing up clothes, things in a box, and the baby buggy. Several children developed a terror of needles &syringes) and some were terrified of doctors.
    Many parents described their children becoming extremely anxious and distressed if they were called 'naughty'. Some children repeatedly questioned parents about whether or not they were naughty.
    Several parents noted that their children exhibited symptoms of panic and extreme fear when taken near specific places and/or houses to which the parent had no knowledge of the child ever having been taken.
    Children were said to have an unusual concern about the well-being of their parents, worrying that they would die. One parent described her child as 'obsessed by death'.
    Many parents noticed their children engaging in sexualised behaviour. This involved touching their own genitals and inserting objects into their genitals and anus. Children were also seen to try and act sexually with other children, at the nursery and/or in the family, and towards adults both male and female. Parents also noted that children used sexual words not used at home. A number of the children also drew pictures which had sexual aspects.
    Physical evidence of abuse
    Many of the children were taken to have internal examinations. The majority of the children were seen by Dr Lazaro. She found physical evidence in numerous children of penetrative injury. In four children testing also revealed the presence of a bacterium that was found in the anus which is much more commonly found in the throat. Dr Lazaro describes this as an unusual finding which suggested a common source.
    A number of parents also noted that during the time the children were in the care of Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed they were frequently bruised. Initially they attributed this to normal childhood 'rough and tumble' but after the disclosure of the abuse they considered that some of these bruises may have had a more malevolent cause.

    217 -218 Many aspects of the children's evidence that could be verified and were checked out, proved to be accurate. We do know that they were taken out of the nursery more by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed than anyone else. We do know that the managers of the nursery sometimes said that Chris Lillie, Dawn Reed and the children were in a specific place but they were not. The man the children said lived in the house with the black door did look exactly as the children described him. Chris Lillie did live in the place that the children said he did and more than one child could describe how to get to his home from the nursery. We know that Chris Lillie took a large number of photographs of children, that he regularly borrowed a video camera, and that he told people he could copy videos at home. We also know there was physical evidence corresponding to the sexual assaults that the children said had occurred. In Chris Lillie's interview with the police, he admitted taking one boy to his flat (although he did not admit to the abuse of the child). The Review Team believe this indicates that for some reason which we have been unable to determine, this child was of particular significance in this case.


    Despite the methodological difficulties when the information collected was examined in its totality, the Review Team were impressed by how compatible the process of the disclosures were with how research indicates it is typical for pre-school children to describe traumatic events such as sexual abuse. The review Team was also impressed at the consistency of the core of the children's disclosures while there were significant individual differences in the accounts. The individual differences would be expected due to the individual differences in the sense they were able to make out of such unfamiliar experiences. This pattern of presentation of information lends credence to the validity of the disclosures.

    219 - 220 The Review Team concluded that the style of the children's disclosures related closely to their template suggested by our expert witnesses as indicating non-suggestive disclosures. The children were more likely to describe events that happened in the nursery and the 'library' rather than in less familiar places. They were also more likely to report experiences with CL and DR than with other people who may have less familiar. The children describe many sexual acts which were evidently central to their experiences with these carers.

    While accepting that very young children can misinterpret some events and experiences, during the lengthy process of the investigations, criminal and disciplinary, the perpetrators have never been able to offer an alternative explanation to account for the children's knowledge and disclosures. Professor Davies states that it is very unlikely that children of this age tell convincing lies about sexual acts. He emphasises that children of this agree can lie but that these lies are not elaborate and usually consist solely of an assertion or denial.
    Professor Davies recommends that in evaluating a child's statements it is important to scrutinise very carefully the history of those statements. Was the name of the accused suggested or did the statement consistently identify the accused from the earliest stage? As far as it was possible to do so, the Review Team considered the children's statements in the light of this advice. In doing so the Review Team was convinced of the spontaneity of disclosures particularly in relation to: the acts children endured, the involvement of other people, the use of cameras, and syringes, and that Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed had both been consistently, and differently, implicated as the perpetrators of those acts from the earliest stages.
    It is highly likely that the original disclosure was in fact 'accidental' , that is the child did not intend to disclose that he was being sexually abused and the mother had no intention of eliciting a disclosure. The child could not have been aware of the significance of his response and would not have initially realised that he made disclosures. Sorenson and Snow describe how this is a common process of disclosure for pre-school children.
    221 In the case involving the children at the Shieldfield nursery, not only are there very compelling aspects of both the content of the children's evidence and the process by which the evidence became known, there is also a considerable volume of medical and circumstantial evidence that verifies many of the children's disclosures.

    223 In addition it is now recognised that children who are not themselves the direct victims of sexual assaults nor have been made to touch adults or other children in a sexual manner but who are present while this occurs to other children are also likely to have suffered serious psychological damage as a result of trauma. In an environment where children are physically and sexually abused by staff, a corrupt culture is established which facilitates that abuse. This culture often involves the terrorising of the children and/or the rewarding of the children for behaviours that are grossly inappropriate. Thus some children in contact with Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed may not have been directly sexually abused but may have suffered trauma from being within this environment and from what they have seen happening to other children. Research shows that children who have endured abuse and children who have witnessed the abuse of others within a corrupt environment created to facilitate such abuse, are susceptible to developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

    223 - 224 Conclusions in relation to the children's disclosures

    Whilst to an adult much of what the children say may appear confused and hard to believe, the Review Team has formed the view that the children attempted to describe to the best of their abilities experiences that were cognitively and emotionally overwhelming for them, which they did not fully understand, nor for which they had the appropriate language.
    We have considered that some of what we have heard has come via the parents in statements to us which we took some time after the events. Thus we have assumed some changes from the original disclosures due to the time lag and the hearsay nature of the evidence. Thus whilst we cannot form an opinion about the veracity of each individual disclosure we are impressed by the compelling nature of the core factors in these disclosures: children were hurt, they were hurt involving sexual acts, they were hurt both in the nursery and when they were taken out to other places, some of which were houses, flats and a caravan, they were told that some of these places were libraries or Chris Lillie's home, sometimes other people were present and involved in the hurting, sometime videos and photographs were taken of them, that the children were very frightened and many were almost certainly traumatised by their experiences.

    227 One of the terms of reference of the Review Team was to consider how a sexually abusive situation was set up and maintained at Shieldfield nursery.....

    .... It is our hope that by trying to analyse closely what we know occurred at Shieldfield and the context in which it happened ....

    228 No one other than those that perpetrated that abuse can provide definitive knowledge as to how this was carried out and those perpetrators that we know of have declined to talk to us. Therefore what follows can only be speculation based on those aspects of the situation that we do know about placed within a theoretical framework of what is known about perpetrators of child abuse.

    The Review Team finding as to what occurred at Shieldfield nursery

    We have considered various possibilities as to the meaning of the disclosures made by the children. We have concluded that it is most likely there were two simultaneous arenas in which the children were being sexually, physically, emotionally abused:
    1. That Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed, sometimes in conjunction with other people outside the nursery, participated in sexual acts with children which at time involved the making of illegal child pornography.

    2. That Chris Lillie also regularly sexually abused children acting alone both inside and outside the nursery. These sexual assaults took place in various places within the nursery, in particular the toilets adjacent to the Red Room.

    In addition the children were physically and emotionally abused both inside and outside the nursery by Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie in order to attempt to ensure the children's compliance and prevent disclosure of the abuses.

    229 How Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed came to be together at Shieldfield nursery

    The Review Team deliberated over various suggestions as to how Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed may have come to act together at Shieldfield nursery to abuse children. .....

    ........ It is possible that they met by chance at the nursery; that either DR or CL had connections to a paedophile group; and, that one coerced, pressurised or encouraged the other into becoming involved in the sexual abuse and exploitation.

    The third possibility is that someone arranged for one or both of them to obtain posts at Shieldfield nursery so that they could provide children for sexual use and exploitation. This could have been someone within Social Services, someone at the nursery, someone at the college or someone from an unidentified area also common to them both.

    232 - 3 CL and DR decided not to be interviewed by the Review Team and not enough is known about their lives, beliefs, nor the true relationship between them to be able to categorically say what their specific motivations were to sexually, emotionally and physically abuse children.

    .... Sexual offenders tend to think in a distorted way about the children that they sexually abuse which makes them feel they are entitled to meet their needs, whatever they may be, by abusing those children. Thus they tend to objectify the children, and put into these children whatever characteristic they want which will enable the abuser to abuse them. There are many ways of doing this. Some abusers construct 'a special relationship' between themselves and the children. They then see the abuse of the child as 'a natural expression of that relationship'. Some abusers objectify the children by making them 'bad' and behaving as if those children deserve to be hurt. In the case of Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed there are some indications that they used both these justifications. Chris Lillie particularly was seen as having special relationships with some children. There is also evidence that both Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie objectified the children in a highly negative manner, making the children out to be bad. This can be surmised from the names the children said they called them, such as 'bastard, horrible, shitty knickers'.

    233 As CL and DR refused to be interviewed we cannot conclusively determine their personal motivations to abuse children, nor can we conclude what internal inhibitions they had against doing so and how they overcame any such inhibitions. However much more can be said about how they overcame the external inhibitors to allow them to gain access to children, to be with those children and have the opportunity to offend.

    236 It appears that CL and DR took advantage of the re-organisation of the groups in the nursery to manipulate the situation so that they were working together with children aged between two to three years old ....

    237 .......The location of the nursery and the fact that the little garden there was, was out of use for some time meant that there was an acceptance in the nursery that children would be taken out regularly ....

    .......The role of DR was vital in enabling this to happen. While the nursery staff and many of the parents admit to finding it hard to believe and accept that Chris Lillie was alleged to have sexually abused children, they found it far more difficult to accept that Dawn Reed could have done so. In part this was because she appeared to them to be 'so normal', a person that many of them like but more than that, it was because she was a woman. Women in our society are seen as carers, nurturers protectors and sexually passive. The idea that a woman particularly a young, bright, articulate and heterosexual woman such as Dawn Reed could be involved in the sexual abuse of children in this way for many people is unthinkable. Consequently people were far less questioning than they may have been, of the fact that Chris Lillie was repeatedly taking groups of children out of the nursery than they would have been if he had always done so alone or with another male. The children were
    considered safe as they were with her.

    238 - 239 Due to the young age of the children, it would not have been difficult for CL, DR and/or any other abusers to overcome the child's resistance. .....

    ..... From the descriptions of staff, parents and what we know from the children, it would seem probable that DR and CL manipulated the children by being very rewarding to them and then being very punitive. It has been shown that very young children are very sensitive to this kind of treatment and subsequently become highly attuned to the moods of their carers. Thus the children would have learned not to do anything to go against them nor to displease them in any way. From what the children and staff have said Dawn Reed was more effective in instilling fear and controlling the children than Chris Lillie seems to have been.
    Initially the children would not have understood the nature of the acts that were taking place. From what the children say it seems that the children were often abused in the context of games or being made to play 'lets pretend'. One particular game described seems to have involved children playing chase with 'water pistols'. When the children began to recognise that these 'games' led to the pain and discomfort associated with the sexual assaults, any resistance they then put up could have easily been overcome by threats and physical abuse. From the disclosures of the children and the degree of terror they showed at times to a whole range of objects, people and places, it is highly probably that the main technique used to overcome any resistance of the children was threatening behaviours and physical assaults.
    The coding on the registers at the nursery could have conveyed at a glance to any potential abuser important information that could be used in manipulating a child to comply with abuse and also the most effective way of instilling fear in that child to try and prevent the risk of disclosure.
    In addition, the children's disclosures would indicate that some of them were injected with some form of medication that reduced the children's abilities to physically and/or emotionally resist the abuses perpetrated against them.
    239 Instilling fear in the child also appeared to be the main means by which the children were prevented from disclosing what was happening to them. Once children had made any disclosures about what had happened to them children tended to believe that something terrible would happen to themselves and/or one or both of their parents. Many of the children believed a dog would get to them and hurt them. Many were terrified that someone close to them, particularly a parent or a grandparent would die. It is likely that these were the threats made to the children as to what would happen if anyone found out about the abuse......

    .......... The children also talked about other people's involvement and mentioned the names of other staff from the nursery. This could be because these staff were also involved but it could also be that CL and/or DR deliberately confused the children into making these often isolated disclosures so that if any disclosures were made they were all the more unbelievable.

    244 What emerges from an analysis of the relevant documents is that:

    1. There appears to be the possibility that CL and DR abused children and covered their activities by recording fictional accidents to disguise either physical abuse or signs of distress caused by the abuse.

    252 As evidence began to emerge what might have happened to children who had been in CL and DR's case in Shieldfield nursery and elsewhere, alongside the investigation a number of children and parents began to need a therapeutic service.

    259 As the children who were abused by CL, DR and others grow and develop, there will be a continuing need to provide age appropriate services at particular points in the future.

    260 From our enquiries we can suggest that these children were dealing with a number of significant issues resulting from the abuse and to which attention should be paid by those offering a service. The factors which may have made an impact on an individual child are:

    264 From the evidence we have seen, it is clear that CL and DR had conspired as a pair to abuse children, and it is also clear that other people outside the nursery were also involved.

    265 We do think that there are individuals -- CL and DR— who did probably conspire with others unknown, but we conclude that those others were not officers or elected members of the City Council.

    268 CL and DR were also amongst the small number of nursery staff who volunteered to provide extra care for young children in a nearby children's home. There is evidence that CL and DR sexually abused some of the children they cared for in the home, although this was not suspected or investigated at the time or since.

    269 The police investigation improved after the appointment of DI Findlay to lead it. Children gave their parents detailed information about the venues in which they had been abused, and by whom, which appear to have been followed up e.g. children's allegation that the 'house with a black door where a man with a black beard had abused them' were progressed, there proved to be - where they said – a house with a black door in which a man with a black beard lived, but we were told that the evidence was not strong enough to be used in court. We are not aware of anyone in this case whom we have interviewed or who is employed by any of the agencies involved who fits this description.

    274 After the initially slow start, the police investigation of the case appears to have been pursued with vigour. The Council disciplinary proceedings were also pursued robustly, for which the Council should be commended - CL and DR were dismissed for abuse, not on some other, perhaps more convenient, pretext....
    ..... As well as CL and DR, it is clear that others outside the nursery were involved in abusing children, for their own gratification and probably also for the production of pornographic materials.


    1. We find that many children at Shieldfield nursery were abused sexually, emotionally and physically by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed, who were dismissed for the same by Newcastle City Council. It is our view that the children described to the best of their ability abusive experiences by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed and other adults who as yet have not been identified, both inside and outside the nursery, in houses and flats in the locale. We find that there is evidence which suggests that the children were sometime filmed when they were being abused outside the nursery and we have drawn the conclusion that Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed were procuring the children of Shieldfield nursery for pornographic purposes as well as their own motivations.
    2. In the absence of being able to interview them we have been unable to find either Chris Lillie or Dawn Reed's personal motivations for their abusive behaviours. However, the indications from the children were that Chris Lillie took every opportunity to abuse them, and Dawn Reed was a party to abuse in particular situations, including during filming.

    302 We do think that there are individuals, CL and DR, who did probably conspire with unnamed others, but we are satisfied that there was no involvement of officers or elected members of the City Council.

    303 Like many of the professionals who we have interviewed we share the distress of parents that the Shieldfield children were not able in the end to receive justice. We find that there was a failure of the adult world to provide the processes, systems and environment to ensure that child victims of assault are not disadvantaged and are regarded as being entitled to justice as adults."
  479. The Claimants attributed to the words complained of the following natural and ordinary meanings, namely that they:
  480. (a) sexually, physically and emotionally abused a very great number of young children whose care had been entrusted to them at Shieldfield Nursery, Fernwood House and in other institutions in which she had worked;
    (b) were members of a paedophile ring, and used their position at Shieldfield Nursery to procure young children for rape and abuse by themselves and other members of the ring, including the handing over of children to be raped and assaulted and used in sexual acts and in the making of pornographic films; and
    (c) had injected children with drugs in order to assault them sexually more easily; and
    (d) terrorised children in their care into submission and silence in order to attempt to cover up the evidence of their crimes, including physically assaulting and verbally abusing children, and threatening them with physical harm and with the death of their parents and relatives; and
    (e) were reasonably suspected of disposing or trying to dispose of evidence of their crimes in an attempt to prevent them coming to light and to pervert the course of justice; and
    (f) were also reasonably to be suspected of the physical and/or sexual abuse of elderly residents of homes, whose care had been entrusted to them.
  481. Both the City Council and the Review Team are potentially liable in respect of the publication to the world at large following the official communication of the Report to the Council. It is also alleged that they are thereby also, in law, responsible for the foreseeable re-publications thereafter (most particularly those in the media). This is no doubt based on the principles set out in Speight v. Gosnay (1891) 60 L.J. Q.B. 231, C.A. (recently considered in McManus v. Beckham [2002] EWCA Civ 939). The Claimants' contention in this respect would be that these Defendants would not be able to avail themselves of any privilege, and in particular statutory privilege, made available to the media for onward re-publication of such material, since they would not fall within the scope of the public policy underlying that protection (since they are obviously original publishers).
  482. On the basis of that argument, the Claimants pray in aid, for the purposes of damages, the devastating consequences caused to them by the widespread publication of the allegations contained in the Report.
  483. There is a claim for general and special damages, as well as for aggravated damages. By contrast with the claims originally made against the Newcastle Chronicle, there is no corresponding claim for exemplary damages. (I assume that this decision was made because of the difficulty of establishing any financial or similar motive for publication by these Defendants.)
  484. The defences raise a multiplicity of issues. There are arguments about meaning and the responsibility on the part of the various Defendants for the different publications. Also, whereas the Review Team Defendants plead justification, the City Council does not. It was explained to me, at one stage, that the decision was made for tactical reasons in connection with claims for negligence brought against the Council by various parents, who seek damages in respect of the alleged abuse. The Council does not wish to be seen to be asserting the truth of the allegations of abuse, in these proceedings, while leaving the matter open for proof by the various claimants in the negligence proceedings. In practice, this divergence of strategy between the two sets of Defendants made very little difference to the conduct of the trial.
  485. The City Council has not been averse to attacking the Claimants, as though they were pleading justification, and clearly wants the best of both worlds. Miss Page has described its attitude as "shameful, hypocritical and offensive in the extreme". What Mr Lavery, the former Chief Executive, said was this:
  486. "… the Council continues to accept the findings of the Review Team and believes that, on the balance of probabilities, Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed did abuse a significant number of children in their care whilst they were employed by the Shieldfield Nursery. In addition, the Council stands by its decision to dismiss Lillie and Reed for gross misconduct following the finding of a disciplinary hearing and upon appeal that Lillie and Reed had physically and sexually abused children in their care. The Council is unable to plead particulars of justification because to do so would risk compromising claims which have been brought against it by parents who allege that their child were [sic] abused by Lillie and Reed while they were in the Council's care. The Council is required by its insurers not to allege particulars of abuse of those children which might amount to an admission in those other proceedings".
  487. The Council was thus in what it no doubt considered the fortunate position of being able to shelter behind the Review Team and watch its own legal team attack the Claimants – but only in their capacity as representing the Review Team. It is this unusual stance which led to Miss Page's strictures.
  488. For the purposes of justification, the Defendants relied at the outset of the trial on dozens of allegations in relation to the 27 children selected and to a large extent based on statements attributed to the children concerned (which I have ruled to be compendiously admissible under The Children (Admissibility of Hearsay Evidence) Order 1993). None of the children has given evidence, and therefore close attention has to be paid to the various routes by which the accusations find their way into this litigation. For example, although I have thus allowed in the three video recorded interviews with Child 14, which had been excluded by Holland J from the criminal proceedings in July 1994, that is not to say that the serious concerns expressed by his Lordship on that occasion do not have to be carefully addressed in assessing issues of weight and credibility. By 13 May 2002, five of the children had been withdrawn and the Review Team were ordered to pay the costs of meeting those allegations. It was noteworthy, however, that Mr Bishop confined himself to saying that his clients were not asking for findings of abuse in respect of those children – there was no acknowledgement that the allegations were untrue.
  489. In the case of each child pleaded, the Defendants have set out a brief summary of the allegations followed by two schedules. Table A, in each case, consists of information (not all of it, by any means, agreed) about the child's personal history, parents, dates at the Shieldfield Nursery, regularity of attendance, time spent (if any) in the Red Room in the care of the Claimants, whether or not the child was interviewed or medically examined and, if so, the findings made.
  490. Table B consists of a series of numbered instances of "disclosures" by the child and/or behavioural symptoms. A certain amount of other information is given about the circumstances or context of each such instance, together with references to documents or witness statements. These are matters to which I shall need to return, in much greater detail, when I address the evidence introduced to support the plea of justification. It would be impossible, however, to address every factual allegation which the Defendants chose to incorporate, since they run into hundreds. There is no doubt that the Review Team threw everything into the defence they could possibly think of. Unfortunately, in respect of much of it, it was not easy to see what significance was supposed to be attached to it. Miss Page characterised the pleading as "oppressive, burdensome and often misleading or confusing". She pointed out that even in relation to allegations of the utmost gravity there was confusion and obfuscation as to what the Defendants were prepared to support – especially with regard to the insertion of cutlery into vaginas. Even now I am not clear whether the Defendants are really alleging this or not. If ever there was a case for clarity and precision, this would surely be it. At the close of the case, the allegations were put rather on the basis that it may have been the handle end of a knife or even that no knife was involved at all – but rather abuse that "felt like a knife".
  491. There was a lack of clarity for much of the case also on what the Review Team were saying about the "paedophile ring". This too crystallised on 27 May when Mr Bishop stated the case as follows:
  492. "… the children were taken, alternatively there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that they were taken, by Lillie and/or Reed to one or more houses or flats in the Sandyford area, including [named] Road, where they were abused by strangers, including one or more men [physical description follows]. One or more of the houses had a black door. Although some of the children have identified particular houses on [named] Road as places to which they were taken, we do not seek to establish or ask the court to find that they were taken to any particular house or that they were abused by any particular person living in the Sandyford area".
  493. There was a time when it was said that the plea ought to state the charge with the same precision as an indictment: Hickinbotham v. Leach (1842) 10 M.&W. 361. The above formulation appears to fall some way short of that. A Claimant setting out to meet such a case would have some difficulty in knowing how to refute it. It tends to slip through the fingers as one tries to get to grips.
  494. There are defences of qualified privilege pleaded on behalf of both the City Council and the Review Team Defendants. Reliance is placed upon the setting up of the Review Team in 1995, for the purpose of conducting a review of the complaints made in connection with Shieldfield Nursery and, in particular those of parents. Reference is also made to the limited nature of the publication and the attempts to communicate the serious allegations about the Claimants to those with a genuine legitimate interest in the subject-matter. The following factors are naturally relied upon to support the defence of qualified privilege:
  495. (a) The obligations and powers of the City Council to provide day care in accordance with s.18 of the Children Act 1989.
    (b) The history of the allegations of abuse made in relation to children over the course of the spring and summer of 1993.
    (c) The duty undertaken by the Review Team Defendants to report and submit their conclusions and recommendations (which they did through the Chief Executive of the City Council on 5 November 1998).
    (d) The duty of the Chief Executive to place the Report before a meeting of the Day Nursery Complaints Review Panel and to provide its members with copies of the Report.
    (e) A duty claimed under ss.100B and 100E of the Local Government Act 1972 to make copies of the Report available for members of the public present at the meeting of the Complaints Review Panel held on 12 November 1998.
    (f) The City Council is also said to have been under a duty to make a copy of the Report available for inspection at its offices, at all reasonable hours, and to supply copies to any persons who required one: ss.100B, 100C, 100E and 100H of the 1972 Act.
    (g) It is said that the City Council was also under a common law duty, and/or had a legitimate interest, to supply a copy of the Report to persons with a corresponding legitimate interest in receiving it. Accordingly, prior to the meeting of 12 November 1998 copies were supplied only to persons who had such a legitimate interest, and on 12 November to persons who were present at the meeting of the Complaints Review Panel, and thereafter only to persons who required a copy of it and/or satisfied the City Council that they had a legitimate interest in receiving a copy.
    (h) Alternatively, all five of the Defendants rely upon a common law duty, and/or a legitimate interest, to publish the Report to the public at large. A large number of particulars are set out, giving the reasons why it is said that the subject-matter of the Report was of legitimate public interest, both locally and more widely. I shall return to consider these when I come to rule on the issues of qualified privilege.
  496. The Claimants raise allegations of malice against the City Council and, separately, against the Review Team members. Indeed, it was largely to this issue that the cross-examination of the Review Team members was directed.
  497. The particulars of malice directed to the City Council were originally relatively short, but I gave permission to amend and expand them on 28 February 2002. They relate to the named individuals and are considered in detail in section 15 below.
  498. Those against the Review Team members run to some 60 pages in all. It is not necessary for me to set them all out in the course of this judgment, but I shall attempt to summarise them.
  499. The plea of malice against the Review Team is divided into various sections. The first is concerned with the Team's supposed pre-determination to pronounce guilt.
  500. Attention is drawn to page 274 of the Report which notes that, in respect of the criminal proceedings, "all the evidence available at that time appears to have been made available for the court proceedings". The point then made is that the Review Team effectively have no new evidence to support allegations in respect of any of the six children in respect of whom those charges had been brought; nor indeed in respect of the greater number of children now alleged to have been abused; nor yet to support the parents' allegations about a paedophile conspiracy and/or the production of pornography.
  501. In so far as there were obvious deficiencies in the evidence, the Claimants rely upon the approach adopted by the Review Team in their Report of explaining those deficiencies in terms of the Claimants' guilt; for example, late, reluctant or unspontaneous disclosures being explained on the basis that Claimants must have instilled fear into the children. Lack of credibility or inconsistency in the children's accounts was similarly explained on the footing that the Claimants must have deliberately implanted distorted knowledge in the children's minds to achieve that purpose.
  502. Despite the absence of any evidence to support the proposition that the Claimants were indulging in "an intimate, bizarre and highly perverted sexual relationship", the Team nonetheless came to the conclusion that this was in fact the case.
  503. Attention is also drawn to the inconsistency of approach on the part of the Review Team as between Mr Lillie and Miss Reed, on the one hand, and any other adult apparently implicated by the children, on the other. Whereas the latter were rightly exonerated because there was nothing to corroborate their involvement, a different test must have been applied to the Claimants since there was little or no apparent corroboration relating to them either. A particular example cited, on the Claimants' behalf, is that of a well known local politician who was quite rightly exonerated through lack of any evidence. So far as the Claimants themselves are concerned, however, the absence of corroboration was explained in terms of their guilt rather than being treated as exculpatory.
  504. Despite being very familiar with Mr Peter Hunt's report into the Jason Dabbs affair, Multiple Abuse in Nursery Classes, the Review Team announced their findings against the Claimants without giving any weight to the two formidable difficulties which had prevented Mr Hunt from making any other specific findings of child abuse than those admitted by Jason Dabbs. The two main problems were, of course, that video interviews were likely to be flawed by the introduction of leading questions and, secondly, that accounts given by parents as to their children's disclosures had not been tested or explored, but simply for the most part taken at face value (see para 2.3.5 of Mr Hunt's Report).
  505. Reliance is placed upon the appearance by Mrs Saradjian in the Panorama programme of 6 October 1997, to which I have already referred.
  506. It is suggested also that the claims made in Chapter 3 of the Report, as to the safeguards adopted to ensure fairness to those who might be criticised, were simply untrue, so far as the Claimants were concerned, as the Review Team must have appreciated. In particular, the Claimants were not sent "Salmon letters" or forewarned of the contents of the Report prior to publication. Ironically, in relation to the well known political figure from the North East, the Review Team pointed out at pages 275–276 that public figures (who they thought might become the subject of wild allegations because of their being in the public arena) should not be perceived as having to prove their innocence; they were recognised as having the right to be judged by "exactly the same legal and evidential standards as any other citizens". Particulars are given at paragraphs 12.6 and 12.7 of the Reply of a number of respects in which the Team are said to have applied quite different standards to the Claimants. I shall return to these in due course, when considering my conclusions on the allegations of malice.
  507. The Reply goes so far as to allege that the Team's claim in the Report to have carefully evaluated the probative quality of the children's testimony implicating Mr Lillie and Miss Reed was "a dishonest sham"; so too the claim to have performed the investigations necessary to eliminate the possibility that the "disclosures" were led.
  508. This is said to be demonstrated, in part, by the Team's attempt to explain away, by way of anticipation, anything that might be thought false, incredible or inconsistent in the children's "disclosures". It was said that their statements were likely to be a mix of accurate and distorted information, implanted by the abusers deliberately for the purpose of rendering their accounts incredible. It is pleaded that this explanation was offered without any evidence to support it at all.
  509. It is pleaded also that there was no serious attempt on the Team's part to investigate the origin or cogency of the children's "disclosures" in a dispassionate or objective manner; indeed, that there were only two children in respect of whom the Report discloses any evidence of the Team's attempting to analyse the material, namely Child 22 and Child 14. The Team's approach is said to have been fundamentally flawed in respect of both.
  510. The next section of the particulars of malice is devoted to the Team's alleged use of distortion and suppression. This, in turn, is broken down into misrepresentations in respect of the ruling of Holland J and its treatment of the disclosures of Child 14. Because these matters are so central to the case, I have considered them in detail elsewhere and do not intend to set out the lengthy particulars at this point of the judgment. There are also passages relating to the Team's treatment of the "disclosures" made by Child 22.
  511. Finally, there are shorter sections dealing with the treatment of "disclosures" by other children generally, the Team's finding of abuse at other establishments, without apparently any evidence at all, and their use of unsubstantiated hearsay and smear.
  512. 6) What is the correct approach to justification?

  513. Child abuse is sadly a common issue in the courts nowadays. Normally, however, it arises in the context of family work or in the course of criminal trials. In those courts the correct approach to matters such as admissibility and the standard of proof has been worked out in the light of experience. These High Court proceedings do not fall into either of those categories. It is thus necessary to consider such questions in the different context of civil defamation proceedings, recognising that whether either of the Claimants was in fact guilty of child abuse is a crucial issue in the case. Analogies with other types of proceedings may be helpful but cannot be pressed too far.
  514. So far as admissibility is concerned, I ruled in the first week of the trial that hearsay evidence from the young children in question would be admissible in accordance with the order made by the Lord Chancellor in 1993: The Children (Admissibility of Hearsay Evidence) Order 1993. In the light of that ruling, there is no need to conduct an enquiry into the competence of any individual child, which would otherwise have to be addressed in accordance with s.5 of the Civil Evidence Act 1995. Obviously, however, I recognise that issues relevant to competence would be germane, in any event, to the weight and credibility to be attached to any such evidence.
  515. As to standard of proof, the law seems to be clear in the light of cases such as Hornal v. Neuberger Products [1957] 1 Q.B. 247 and, more recently, Re H and Others (Minors) (Child Sexual Abuse: Standard of Proof) [1996] AC 563. What has to be applied is the civil standard of proof as traditionally understood. In Re H and Others (cited above) Lord Nicholls (with whom Lords Goff and Mustill expressed agreement) approved the approach of the Court of Appeal in H v. H (Minors) (Child Abuse:Evidence) [1990] Fam. 86, 94, 100, Re M (A Minor) (Appeal) (No.2) [1994] 1 F.L.R. 59, 67 and Re W (Minors) (Sexual Abuse: Standard of Proof) [1994] 1 F.L.R. 419, 424. It was also made clear that contrary observations in Re G (A Minor) (Child Abuse: Standard of Proof) [1987] 1 W.L.R. 1461, 1466 and Re W (Minors) (Sexual Abuse: Standard of Proof) [1994] 1 F.L.R. 419, 429 did not accurately state the law.
  516. For the Chronicle, Miss Sharp argued that the proposition of which I have to be satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, is that in each case the relevant Claimant was guilty of child abuse. She submitted that it is not necessary to reach a separate determination in respect of each child pleaded (as a jury would be obliged to do in a criminal case on each count). She was arguing that I need only determine that one child has been abused (in the case of each Claimant) in order to decide that the allegations of sexual abuse were "substantially true". She may be right, as a matter of logic, but it seems to me that it would be highly unsatisfactory to leave any of the allegations hanging in the air and undetermined.
  517. In any event, Miss Sharp argued that once abuse has been found in the case of one child, it becomes easier for the Defendants to establish it in relation to another. She referred in this context to the words of Lord Nicholls in Re H and Others (cited above) at page 586:
  518. "The balance of probability standard means that a court is satisfied an event occurred if the court considers that, on the evidence, the occurrence of the event was more likely than not. When assessing the probabilities the court will have in mind as a factor, to whatever extent is appropriate in the particular case, that the more serious the allegation the less likely it is that the event occurred and, hence, the stronger should be the evidence before the court concludes that the allegation is established on the balance of probability. Fraud is usually less likely than negligence. Deliberate physical injury is usually less likely than accidental physical injury. A step-father is usually less likely to have repeatedly raped and had non-consensual oral sex with his under-age stepdaughter than on some occasion to have lost his temper and slapped her. Built into the preponderance of probability standard is a generous degree of flexibility in respect of the seriousness of the allegation.
    Although the result is much the same, this does not mean that where a serious allegation is in issue, the standard of proof required is higher. It means only that the inherent probability or improbability of an event is itself a matter to be taken into account when weighing the probabilities and deciding whether, on balance, an event occurred. The more probable the event, the stronger the evidence that it did occur before, on the balance of probability, its occurrence will be established. Ungoed–Thomas J expressed this neatly in Re Dellow's Will Trusts, Lloyd's Bank v. Institute of Cancer Research [1964] 1 W.L.R. 451, 455: 'The more serious the allegation, the more cogent is the evidence required to overcome the unlikelihood of what is alleged and thus to prove it'."
  519. In the light of Hornal v. Neuberger Products (cited above) and other cases, Professor Cross has commented (see now Cross and Tapper on Evidence, 9th Edition, at p.152):
  520. "When the commission of a crime is alleged in civil proceedings, the stigma attaching to an affirmative finding might be thought to justify the imposition of a strict standard of proof; but the person against whom criminal conduct is alleged is adequately protected by the consideration that the antecedent improbability of his guilt is 'a part of a whole range of circumstances which have to be weighed in the scale when deciding as to the balance of probabilities'."
    The words in quotation marks were cited from the judgment of Morris L.J. in Hornal (at p.266).
  521. I saw the force of Miss Sharp's submissions, but it is necessary to remember that the logic of her case would require me to make the finding of abuse in respect of at least one child (for each Claimant) before the hurdle is lowered in the way contemplated by Lord Nicholls. I must, therefore, start with the usual presumption of innocence (which applies in defamation as it does in crime). I must consider each of the children and the evidence that is specific to him or her. Because of the gravity of the allegations, I should look for cogent evidence to overcome that presumption.
  522. I propose to avoid what Miss Page characterises as the "no smoke without fire" approach. This is perhaps best summarised in the Review Team's pleaded response to a request for further information:
  523. "It is the Defendants' case that it is necessary to look at the totality of the statements and disclosures of all the children referred to in the particulars of justification and that, looking at those statements and disclosures as a whole, there is overwhelming evidence that Chris and Dawn abused the children in their care".
  524. The argument was similarly expressed in the opening submissions of Mr Bishop on their behalf:
  525. "In the vast majority of cases the evidence relating to that child alone is sufficient to establish that the Claimants did sexually abuse the child, although if in any individual case there is any lingering doubt it is dispelled by looking at the picture as a whole. However, there are a few cases where the evidence specifically relating to a particular child would probably by itself not be sufficient for the court to conclude that the Claimants had abused him or her. Again in those cases it is necessary to look at the totality of the evidence to decide whether abuse probably occurred."
  526. I reject any analysis to the effect that, abuse having been alleged in so many instances, it must be a true bill in all or even some cases. Not only is that an inherently sloppy approach to any serious allegation, but it ignores an essential part of the Claimants' case in this litigation; namely, that there has been a "feeding frenzy" leading to a grave risk of cross-fertilisation between the accounts given. Such an approach would in my judgment have obvious dangers. At one level, that which may legitimately be prayed in aid as corroboration is elevated into a substitute for primary evidence. In relation to each child, there must be admissible and credible evidence before one looks elsewhere for corroboration. At its worst, such a reasoning process leads to manifestly flawed conclusions, such as that reached by the Review Team with regard to Child 9. So confident were they that abuse had taken place, that they were prepared to infer it even in relation to a child who had probably left the nursery before the Claimants arrived on the scene. On the other hand, if in relation to any given child there is credible evidence against a Claimant of abuse, then I believe I can look for corroboration of it (for example, of a particular modus operandi) to any comparably credible evidence relating to others.
  527. The "no smoke without fire" approach is to be distinguished from the "jigsaw" process, for which the Defendants also contend. It is possible to speak of fitting together the pieces of "a jigsaw" when seeking to determine whether abuse has taken place with regard to one child. It may be possible, for example, to piece together a credible case of child abuse from "disclosures" (i.e. statements from the child in question), observations by others (including from other children), medical examination or laboratory findings, and from observation of the alleged victim (e.g. disturbed or sexualised behaviour). That is clearly a legitimate approach for establishing child abuse, especially in very young children. I wish to make clear, however, that I do not intend to adopt a "jigsaw" approach to the evidence as a whole - by amalgamating a suspicious finding about one child with something comparable from another, and then concluding that abuse must have taken place in relation to "somebody".
  528. It is perhaps relevant to bear in mind the words of Lord Hewart C.J. in Bailey [1924] 2 K.B. 300, 305:
  529. "The risk, the danger, the logical fallacy is indeed quite manifest to those who are in the habit of thinking about such matters. It is so easy to derive from a series of unsatisfactory accusations, if there are enough of them, an accusation which at least appears satisfactory. It is so easy to collect from a mass of ingredients, not one of which is sufficient, a totality which will appear to contain what is missing. That of course is only another way of saying that when a person is dealing with a considerable mass of facts, in particular if those facts are of such a nature as to invite reprobation, nothing is easier than confusion of mind; and, therefore, if such charges are to be brought in a mass, it becomes essential that the method upon which guilt is to be ascertained should be stated with punctilious exactness".
  530. I propose to treat myself, therefore, as having been given a similar direction to that which a jury would receive when faced with an indictment containing many counts. I do not propose to regard the allegations of child abuse in this case, formulated as particulars of justification, as being a "job lot". I intend to proceed on the basis that each has to be considered separately, but without prejudice to the possibility of the evidence in one child's case serving to corroborate credible evidence in relation to another. My approach is thus to be contrasted with that claimed by the Review Team, who said that "…whilst we cannot form an opinion about the veracity of each individual disclosure we are impressed by the compelling nature of the core factors in these disclosures".
  531. It is necessary, however, for me to bear in mind the Claimants' submissions in the context of the problems thrown up by R v. Ananthanarayanan [1994] 1 W.L.R. 788 and in Hoch v. The Queen (1988) 165 C.L.R. 292, Federal Court of Australia. I must focus upon the essential principle. Evidence about what A has done to B may be admissible and probative of what A has done to C. The value of such evidence, however, depends upon its independence. If there is a significant risk of contamination undermining that independence, the relevance and value may be correspondingly diminished. It is necessary to be wary in cases where a risk of contamination arises (which is real, as opposed to fanciful) because of the investigation process itself.
  532. For example, where a social services department investigates allegations of sexual abuse, whether from the recent or distant past, its inquiries may prompt complainants who would not have come forward of their own accord. It was made clear in Ananthanarayanan that a jury may well need to be given a specific direction in such cases to meet the problem. It would not suffice merely to direct the jury that they need to be sure that there has been no conspiracy to give false evidence; they would need to be sure also that there had been no influence from hearing of the allegations made by other people or by suggestions from some other person. In this case, the Claimants contend that there was a substantial risk of contamination throughout the investigation. Indeed, the Review Team were expressly warned by Constable Helen Foster of the specific risks in this case. Miss Page submits that it was pervasive.
  533. She did not submit that this rendered the evidence inadmissible but asks me to bear it very much in mind wherever it may be suggested that the evidence of one child or parent should be treated as corroborative of another's. Here there are various "pervasive" problems. There was a risk of contamination through social services asking questions or suggesting that questions be asked; through parents speaking to children or to other parents; through children speaking to other children; through police or social services interviewers suggesting concepts or events to children; through Dr San Lazaro suggesting that questions be asked, or passing on between parents or children negative messages about the Claimants, or about behaviours or phobias to watch out for.
  534. It is also important to remember that if a witness's evidence is incredible it should be rejected. It cannot be given credibility through corroboration: see the remarks of Lord Hailsham in Kilbourne [1975] AC 746. The principle is one of common sense and therefore just as significant in the context of civil litigation.
  535. Thus, if I am doubtful about an allegation in relation to Child X, because of a risk of contamination or for any other reason, I should assess it on its own merits. If I find Child X's evidence persuasive, then I can take into account corroborative evidence from Child Y provided I keep a sharp lookout for risks of contamination of the kinds I have identified.
  536. Miss Page submits that all these considerations underline the need for me to approach each allegation of abuse independently in the first instance and to reject the "overall picture" approach.
  537. It is helpful to have regard to some of the family law cases with regard to the court's approach to finding child abuse proved.
  538. As so often, an important element in the evidence relied upon in this case (by both sides) consisted of taped interviews carried out with some of the children in 1993 or 1994. I was invited to view some 24 hours of video material. On this aspect of the evidence, therefore, I should take into account the decision of the Court of Appeal (Neill and Ward L.JJ.) in Re N (A Minor) (Sexual Abuse: Video Evidence) [1997] 1 W.L.R. 153. There guidance was given on the approach to be taken by courts generally towards video recordings of such interviews. Despite the unusual nature of such evidence, it is nonetheless for the judge to decide its weight and credibility. Thus, although expert evidence may be admitted to explain and interpret what the child has said, and is often helpful, it follows that usually evidence of an expert's belief in the truth of the child's account will be inadmissible. It is obvious that there are special factors in such cases, but the exercise of determining credibility is essentially the same as in any other instance of comparing conflicting evidence. In this particular situation, of course, careful attention has to be given to the whole of the circumstances including, for example, how the evidence came to be elicited. It is clearly relevant for the court to take into account such matters as whether the accusations came in response to leading questions, or in the context of a regime of promises and rewards.
  539. In Re N Ward L.J. expressed agreement with a passage in the judgment of Wall J in Re and B ( Minors) (No.1) (Investigation of Alleged Abuse) [1995] 3 F.C.R. 389,409:
  540. "From a forensic view point para. 12.35 of the [Report of the Inquiry into Child Abuse in Cleveland (1987) (Cm 412) – the unsuitability of having a parent present at an interview] remains a correct statement of the proper practice, particularly in a case where the only evidence of abuse up to the date of the first interview was what the mother has said the child has said to her. Quite apart from any pressure which the mother's presence may place on the child, the golden rule is that each interview is to be approached with an open mind: such a rule is in my view immediately broken if the mother is present at the interview".
  541. Attention was also drawn to the words of Morritt L.J. In Re F.S. (Minors) (Care Proceedings) [1996] 1 F.C.R. 667, 676-677:
  542. "The use of child psychiatrists is obviously of the greatest assistance to the court in many cases. In some instances that will extend to pointing out features of the child's evidence which tend either to support or undermine its credibility. But it is usurping the function of the judge to give an opinion directly on whether the man did that of which he is accused. In this case three of the experts stated their respective beliefs that the father had sexually abused N in the way of which she complained, not because of the results of medical examination, but because they believed what she said in the video interview. Not only was such evidence inadmissible, it was capable of being highly prejudicial. …Though judges are often required to put out of their mind inadmissible and prejudicial matters they are entitled to expect the parties and their representatives to use care to see that they are not faced with it in the first place. Moreover, not only may the wrongful admission of such evidence cause problems for the judge, it is also susceptible to giving the accused person the impression that he is being tried by the experts and not the judge".
  543. It is now recognised that particular attention has to be paid in the consideration of video evidence to the recommendations of Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss in the Report of the Inquiry into Child Abuse in Cleveland (1987). At para. 12.34, it is to be noted that unanimity was recorded among the experts who had given evidence to the inquiry in relation to a number of matters. Those were endorsed by the inquiry team:
  544. i) The undesirability of calling them 'disclosure' interviews, which preludes the notion that sexual abuse might not have occurred.
    ii) All interviews should be undertaken only by those with some training, experience and aptitude for talking with children.
    iii) The need to approach each interview with an open mind.
    iv) The style of the interview should be open-ended questions to support and encourage the child in free recall.
    v) There should be where possible only one and not more than two interviews for the purpose of evaluation, and the interviews should not be too long.
    vi) The interview should go at the pace of the child and not of the adult.
    vii) The setting for the interview must be suitable and sympathetic.
    viii) It must be accepted that at the end of the interview the child may have given no information to support the suspicion of sexual abuse and the position will remain unclear.
    ix) There must be careful recording of the interview and what the child says, whether or not there is a video recording.
    x) It must be recognised that the use of facilitative techniques may create difficulties in subsequent court proceedings.
    xi) The great importance of adequate training for all those engaged in this work.
    xii) In certain circumstances it may be appropriate to use the special skills of a 'facilitated' interview. That type of interview should be treated as a second stage. The interviewer must be conscious of the limitations and strengths of the techniques employed. In such cases the interview should only be conducted by those with special skills and specific training.
  545. In the Cleveland Report it was also emphasised that a careful distinction should be drawn between diagnosis or evaluation, on the one hand, and therapy on the other. As was pointed out by one of the experts, "The attempt to encourage disclosures while providing therapeutic treatment is fraught with difficulty". He was opposed to the notion of treatment and 'disclosure' proceeding in parallel. Another of the Cleveland experts, Dr Underwager, underlined the importance of distinguishing the treatment and investigation of abuse, "one of which was in conflict with the other".
  546. In the context of the Cleveland guidelines, my attention was drawn also to the decision of Wall J on 11 November 1993 in B v. B (Child Abuse: Contact) [1994] 2 F.L.R. 713 where he highlighted flagrant breaches of the guidelines in the interviews in the case before him. He drew attention to what apparently was at that time an unfortunate tendency amongst those investigating child abuse to concentrate all their efforts on extracting information from the child. He made the following observations:
  547. "The need for investigators of child sexual abuse to keep an open mind cannot be overstressed. Child sexual abuse is a highly emotive subject. Its investigation requires great skill and sensitivity. Interviewing children is a highly specialised skill which should only be undertaken by those who have been properly trained. Even then the trained interviewer must constantly bear in mind and put into effect the Cleveland guide-lines and now the Memorandum of Good Practice.
    Where the interviewer approaches the case with the belief that abuse has occurred it is dangerously easy for the interviews with the child, as happened here, to degenerate into a cross-examination of the child in which the interviewer puts, in leading form, and in an increasingly pressurised way, what he or she believes has happened. It cannot be said too often that such an approach is wholly unacceptable. It not only renders the interview valueless as evidence but is abusive of the child, particularly where, as here, I find that the child has not been abused in the manner which emerged particularly in the final interview.
    Let nobody be in doubt that the courts are in the forefront of those who believe that child sexual abuse is a major social evil. At the same time, a false allegation of abuse is equally damaging to family life. My criticisms of the incompetent investigation are twofold. First, it is a further abuse perpetrated in the name of child protection on a child who may or may not have already suffered the evil of abuse. Secondly, by muddying the waters it frequently renders impossible the task of the court in deciding whether or not there has been abuse. Thus it may not be possible to make a finding against an alleged perpetrator who is in truth guilty".
  548. As late as March 1999, Sir Stephen Brown P was commenting on a serious disregard of the requirements of the Cleveland guidelines in Re M (Sexual Abuse Allegations: Interviewing Techniques) [1999] 2 F.L.R. 92. His Lordship referred to the fact that leading questions were frequently being asked, combined with a good deal of coaxing. He noted also the "different approach by those who are seeking to 'treat' children and those who are seeking to elicit evidence which will be appropriate for legal proceedings". He again emphasised that the opinion of an expert is not sufficient, however eminent; nor that of a therapist, however experienced. He continued;
  549. "The charge of sexual abuse is a grave one and has serious implications. The law requires that whoever makes an allegation must prove it. It is not an idle or artificial burden".

    7) The expert evidence relevant to child abuse

  550. One of the factors I have noticed with regard to the experts in this case is that there are few surprises, in the sense that each expert's view on any given issue was fairly predictable. They tended to be divided along "party lines". That is not, of course, in any way to reflect on the integrity or objectivity of any individual, because in this field there are quite different viewpoints on the significance of relevant data. If an expert starts from one set of assumptions, the conclusion will almost inevitably differ from another person who operates on different assumptions. In this case, it was not difficult to see where each expert was "coming from". It is thus important to focus on the differing "philosophies" about child abuse as much as upon the differing opinions or conclusions about any given child.
  551. The expert material adduced was grouped into the following categories:
  552. i) Paediatric evidence relating to physical findings.
    ii) Psychological evidence relating to statements or "disclosures" by children.
    iii) Evidence about the potential significance of child "behaviours" as possible indicators of sexual abuse.
    Dr Jane Watkeys and Dr Kathryn Ward: The paediatric evidence
  553. The paediatric evidence was from Dr Jane Watkeys, called on behalf of the Claimants, and Dr Kathryn Ward on behalf of the Defendants. Both are very experienced. Dr Ward is currently Consultant Paediatrician at Airedale General Hospital and has a special interest in child protection. Dr Watkeys is Consultant Community Paediatrician with Camden and Islington NHS Community Trust and is its "named doctor for child protection".
  554. The difference of approach between the two professionals is perhaps illustrated by reference to their general comments in the reports. Dr Watkeys observed (in paragraphs 5 and 7 of her overall summary) that the cohort of children in this case contained "…a surprising number of children in whom abnormal physical findings have been reported". She adds that most of the girls have been reported as having abnormal findings. She finds this unusual for the relevant age group "…even assuming abuse had taken place" (emphasis added). She commented that it was surprising to find so many children with abnormal findings attributed to them, bearing in mind the fact that the majority of children who have been abused usually yield none. She confirmed this in evidence on 24 May and highlighted the fact that Dr San Lazaro appears to have found physical signs pointing to abuse in no less than 56.6 per cent of the girls examined (17 out of 30).
  555. Moreover, Dr Watkeys would have expected more parents/carers to have noted bleeding, given the number of girls apparently displaying evidence of tears and scarring. She believed, significantly, that Dr San Lazaro had displayed inconsistencies in her descriptions at various stages and exaggerated, or over-interpreted, the findings. She was clearly right, although the true scale of this only emerged when Dr San Lazaro came to be cross-examined. Nevertheless, despite her reservations, she recognises from the reported findings that some children did appear to have diagnostic features of sexual abuse.
  556. She points out, however, that the medical findings cannot establish by themselves when or by whom the abuse occurred. She drew attention to the fact that the one child who did have a history of bleeding from the genital area, which she found "concerning", presented with genital bleeding much later (and in circumstances in which abuse was not apparently suspected). She was referring to Child 23.
  557. Dr Ward, on the other hand, went so far as to conclude that there was "…significant evidence that children who had attended Shieldfield Nursery were the subject of abuse by Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed". While recognising the primary role of the forensic paediatrician as being the assessment of physical signs and symptoms, she regards it as essential to take into account the "global presentation of the child" and, most importantly, to listen to the child. She reminded me of a principle identified in Physical Signs of Sexual Abuse in Children, 2nd Edition: "The single, most important feature in the diagnosis of abuse is a clear statement by the child". She recognised the concern that very few physical signs are diagnostic of abuse and that, accordingly, if one limits investigation to such findings many abused children will "slip through the net".
  558. I know that the "jigsaw", global or holistic approach is very much in line with current thinking, but what has emerged from this case is that there are inherent drawbacks. First, it is asking a great deal of any paediatrician, however dedicated or experienced, to be a psychologist, a detective, and a social worker as well as struggling to identify the significance of genital findings (especially in the elusive anatomy of the infant hymen). It is necessary for a judge placed in my position to recognise that no one expert can embrace all these disciplines. I must, of course, acknowledge that on physical signs great weight must be accorded to the opinion of the physicians. Nonetheless, when it comes to notches, nodules and disruptions there is enormous scope for difference even over the appropriate terminology. In listening to Dr Ward and Dr Watkeys, I sometimes had the impression that it was a case of "your guess is as good as mine".
  559. Indeed, it is the very intractability of infant genitalia that leads to the fear that abused children may (as Dr Ward put it) "slip through the net". That is all very well, but when a paediatrician moves off that territory and starts to interpret the "surrounding circumstances", it is vital always to focus on the boundaries of the particular witness's true expertise. When it becomes necessary, in order to interpret a particular physical finding, to take into account what a mother says, or what the mother says the child has said, the judge may be in as good a position to weigh that evidence as the paediatrician – especially where the judge has heard the mother in person or seen the child on video, and the paediatrician has not.
  560. The experts in this case were inevitably dependent on the information they were provided with by the instructing solicitors. So far as physical signs and children's behaviours were concerned, it is necessary for me to bear in mind not only the second or third hand nature of their basic raw materials but also the scope for interpretative overlay. Also, Miss Page invites me to bear in mind the Review Team's ambivalent approach to the Nursery Day Book from Shieldfield.
  561. Information from these is relied upon by the Defendants for the purpose of establishing behavioural symptoms. On the other hand, they are often in other contexts disparaged as inaccurate or incomplete. As the Review Team told the parents of Child 28, "….as we have found that much of the information was recorded inaccurately, we would not expect that the Day Books gave us a realistic insight into the Child's behaviour". Yet, as Miss Page points out, these very Day Books form a significant part of the materials upon which the experts were supposed to pronounce in respect of behavioural indicators.
  562. A loud warning about the holistic approach is to be found in this case in the evidence of Dr San Lazaro herself. On 16 May she was attempting to explain why she had deliberately overstated and exaggerated her findings when reporting to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board:
  563. "The problem about sexual abuse and the issue of compensation is that physical findings alone – the absence or presence of physical findings are of no consequence. The largest consequence for sexually abused children is the emotional and traumatic effect upon them, upon their families, upon their future and on their children. So in essence the damages have very little to do with a tear in the hymen or a tag of the anus. It is to do with the emotional aftermath and the long term effects. I think that I am qualified to talk about those things and I still do them".
  564. The truth is that, where physical findings were negative or equivocal, Dr San Lazaro was prepared to make up the deficiencies by throwing objectivity and scientific rigour to the winds in a highly emotional misrepresentation of the facts (as, for example, in her so-called "generic report" for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board or in her cranky letter about Child 1: see below). The problem is that her emotive misrepresentations carried with some readers the authority of a senior medical practitioner.
  565. Mercifully, I can assume that Dr San Lazaro is very much the exception among senior paediatricians. But it is necessary to recognise the dangers of the holistic approach which make it so important to have colposcopy and the ready availability of peer review. Dr San Lazaro told me that she slipped into the role of advocate because she was so affected herself by the children's trauma (real or perceived). Although she rejected Miss Page's suggestion that she had a "morbid" obsession, she did accept in re-examination that she had a real "dread" of child abuse. I am sure she is not alone in this. I must remember the stress and the pressures to which paediatricians are sometimes subject in these circumstances when dealing with parents. The more routine use of colposcopy and peer support may help to reduce the risk of professionals going off the rails, as she undoubtedly did. But I do believe that the nature of the problem needs to be spelt out.
  566. First, where physicians are advising on broader matters outside their immediate expertise, whether in court proceedings or otherwise, it is essential to make clear when they are doing this, so that readers are not unduly influenced by the professional status of the witness in areas where it is of less significance. The classic example is where a conclusion as to abuse is based not upon physical findings but upon hearsay or partial information which the doctor is in no better position to assess than anyone else.
  567. Secondly, in an area where there is so much room for subjective interpretation based on "experience", it is important to be sure that external factors are not allowed to convert a neutral or non-specific finding into an indicative or diagnostic finding of abuse. The two types of information should be kept quite separate. It is one thing to say of a child there are no physical findings but that her sexualised behaviour strongly suggests trauma. It is quite another to elevate neutral notches or nodules into a physical indicator purely because of the behavioural signs. Unhappily, in this case there are some examples of Dr San Lazaro ratcheting up the physical findings as she went along.
  568. Dr Watkeys explained how she thought child abuse should be diagnosed. She and Dr Ward both recognise the importance of the holistic approach, but Dr Watkeys regards it as necessarily an inter-disciplinary exercise involving all relevant "agencies". Despite her own great experience of examining and interviewing children, she would be reluctant to pronounce on matters falling outside her paediatric expertise; in particular, behavioural or psychological issues. By contrast, Dr San Lazaro's approach seems to have been to take it upon herself to carry out a holistic diagnosis without making clear to what extent she was applying judgments extraneous to whatever skills she possesses as a paediatrician.
  569. Since the physical appearance of normality is often to be found in cases where abuse has occurred, it is important in Dr Ward's view to document carefully even minor ano-genital signs as well as negative findings (as did Dr San Lazaro). Much turns upon interpretation of physical findings, which will often depend in part upon the professional skill and experience of the paediatrician. As I have said, it may also have much to do with the wider context of how the child is behaving, what he or she is saying, and the circumstances to which that child has been exposed.
  570. It is important for me also to bear in mind that much attention has been given over the last 15 years or so to the scope and extent of "normal" genital anatomy. As Dr Watkeys explained, in girls there is recognised nowadays a wide range of attributes within the definition of "normal" including the presence of nodules, notches, hymenal bands and adhesions.
  571. It is thus obvious, but important, that there are pitfalls to be carefully negotiated in all elements of the "global presentation" of a child. Quite apart from the uncertainties of physical findings, there is also the need to be wary of statements or "disclosures", in order to ensure that they have not been tainted in the ways contemplated by the Cleveland guidelines and the Memorandum of Good Practice. Even if, as some clearly think, the Memorandum is not tailored to the requirements of very young children (say under-fives), one cannot simply ignore the possibility of tainting. In those age groups, suggestibility is at least as important a factor as in any other.
  572. Professor Maggie Bruck and Professor William Friedrich: The "disclosures"
  573. That brings me to a general consideration of the expert evidence directed towards that very subject. Not surprisingly, in the circumstances of this case, the Claimants have placed reliance upon Professor Maggie Bruck, whose research work and publications with Stephen Ceci have attracted so much attention in recent years.
  574. The "disclosure" evidence for the Claimants came from Professor Maggie Bruck and that for the Defendants from Professor William Friedrich. This is a subject which is being investigated in various parts of the world, as a matter of on-going research, and has given rise to a good deal of controversy. There is plenty of room for divergence as to the correct interpretation of the data so far available, and there seems to be no doubt that there are strongly held views among the differing experts. A mere lawyer has to approach such matters with care, conscious that nothing is certain, and to pay close regard to the evidence in the specific case or cases, without being drawn into taking sides on the more general debate.
  575. An important proposition based on Professor Bruck's influential research, in recent years, is that when young children are interviewed by an adult about some question of fact, by no means confined to sexual abuse, their accounts may come quickly to conform to the suggestions or beliefs of the interviewer. Moreover, when the inquiry is extended to issues going beyond matters of fact, such as interpretation or value judgments, a child's responses will often come to conform similarly with the interviewer's point of view. It is impossible, of course, to do justice to that research when summarising for the purposes of this judgment. Nonetheless, it is fair to say that a central thesis is that, if interviewers believe that all the children they are interviewing have experienced a certain event, then it is probable that many of the children will come to make such claims even if they did not.
  576. A separate but related thesis thrown up by the research of Bruck and others is that biased interviewers will inaccurately report or interpret what children have actually said, thus bringing their testimony into compliance with their own hypothesis. Indeed, Part IV of Maggie Bruck's report for the present litigation was concerned with adult memory and its vulnerability in such circumstances. Objection was taken to this passage, on the basis that expert evidence was to be confined to the children rather than adults. Therefore I should not take Professor Bruck's findings into account in assessing the statements of adults, such as social workers, police officers, parents or carers. I had pre-read the Report over the Christmas vacation and the objection was formulated afterwards, but I think that the objection is well founded and I must therefore do my best to apply my own judgment to the adult evidence without reference to Professor Bruck.
  577. She made a number of general observations about the children's "disclosures" in the present case, as well as addressing the children individually by reference to what they are recorded as having said. I shall summarise her views shortly. I should say, however, that what I derive from the expert evidence generally (and indeed from the Cleveland Report, the Memorandum of Good Practice and the recent judicial pronouncements on the subject) may be shortly and simply stated:
  578. (1) Young children are suggestible.
    (2) Great care is required in analysing and assessing the weight to be given to statements from young children.
    (3) It is important to take into account the context of any such statement and how it was elicited (for example, whether any pressures, rewards or leading questions were used).
    (4) It is necessary to focus also on the wider circumstances of the child's life in the period leading up to any such "disclosure" that might explain or colour what the child is saying.
    (5) It is vital to take into account delay between any event recounted and the statement itself.
    (6) One should take into account carefully any bias or pre-conceived ideas in the mind of an interviewer.
    (7) It is desirable to have in mind throughout any scope for contamination by statements from others, whether children or adults.
    (8) Similarities between what one child is saying and the statements of another may be two-edged, in the sense that they might tend to corroborate one another's accuracy or merely reflect a common source.
    (9) One should be wary of interpreting childish references to behaviour, or parts of the body, through the distorting gauze of adult learning or reading (e.g. with regard to matters of oral or anal sex).
  579. I note that the Review Team's own expert Professor Bull told them that "… the way in which a child is interviewed/questioned will have a profound effect on the accuracy of a child's testimony, especially if the child is very young and the event(s) in question are in the distant past…".
  580. The general thrust of the research carried out in recent years by Professor Bruck and her colleagues is well known. Indeed, as Ms Judith Jones herself volunteered in the course of evidence, anyone nowadays looking into allegations of child abuse would be "mad" not to take it into account. It is, of course, elementary that one should put to one side any notion that an unwillingness to place reliance on a child's evidence of sexual abuse necessarily imputes bad faith to the child, its parents or any other adult interrogator. What the research has thrown into stark relief is quite simply that very young children do not appear to have the same clear boundary between fact and fantasy as that which most adults have learnt to draw.
  581. At the risk of over-simplification, it is possible to highlight some of the propositions thrown up by the research that need to be addressed. (The research is still at a relatively early stage, of course, and in due course these may prove to have greater or less significance than is now attached to them.) It is important, first, to recognise that, although such obvious factors as leading questions, repetition, pressure, threats, rewards and negative stereotyping can fundamentally undermine the evidential worth of a child's account, it may well be that a child will tailor his or her account in response to more subtle and less easily detected influences. In particular, there is (or may be) a tendency to say what the child perceives the questioner would like to hear. Moreover, it may not be as easy to spot that a child is adopting such an approach, as it would be to identify a leading question. What had, I believe, not been generally appreciated prior to the recent research was that children do not merely parrot what has been suggested to them but will embellish or overlay a particular general theme with apparently convincing detail. This can be very difficult to detect, even for those who are experienced in dealing with children.
  582. Turning to the interviews in the present case, Professor Bruck drew attention to the general point that any statement by a child about any adult, other than Mr Lillie or Miss Reed, as being either present or involved, tended to be disregarded by police or social workers. Where such adults were eliminated from suspicion, for example because a denial was accepted, the child's evidence was nonetheless taken to be sufficiently reliable for condemning one or the other of the Claimants. Indeed, she added (in the case of four children) that statements positively exculpatory of Dawn Reed were ignored.
  583. In some cases, Professor Bruck thought it possible that repeated questioning led children to learn the notion of sexual touching, where there had been an initial inability or unwillingness to indicate any such thing. She also referred to instances of silence or denial where the Review Team hypothesised fear or lack of vocabulary as possible explanations – without apparently addressing the third possibility (i.e. that abuse did not occur).
  584. In her view, children from Shieldfield were interviewed "until they could stand it no longer". Their distress or frustration was then interpreted not as due to the interviewers' pressure but rather to the child's resistance to telling the truth.
  585. She also had comments to make on the approach to behavioural symptoms, although her primary focus was upon oral disclosure. There is clearly an overlap between the two concepts, although the parties to a greater or lesser extent tended to draw a rigid distinction between them. Professor Bruck's point was that it is a fallacy to presume that there is a common constellation of symptoms that are diagnostic of sexual abuse. Indeed, the majority of sexually abused children are asymptomatic. Where children are displaying unusual behavioural traits, before attributing them to sexual abuse one needs carefully to examine other possible causes. In this case, many of the relevant children were reported as suffering such symptoms as anxiety, enuresis, night terrors and apparently sexualised behaviour. Yet these are not uncommon in children of certain age groups and, sometimes, may be associated with other circumstances. Professor Bruck referred to the work of Kendall-Tackett, Williams and Finkelhor, 1993, Psychological Bulletin, 113, 164-80.
  586. She highlighted in this context also the tendency for some parents/carers to change their accounts of behavioural symptoms with the passage of time, and as they became more convinced (for whatever reasons) that their children had been abused.
  587. Professor Bruck also emphasised that initial disclosures were made to parents/carers who, in turn, provided their own memories of what they were told after considerable periods of delay. There are thus obvious questions as to:
  588. i) how spontaneous the disclosures were in the first place;
    ii) whether the disclosures were in response to questions and, if so, how many;
    iii) whether the accounts were derived from information coming untainted from the child or from suggestions put by the parent;
    iv) how accurately the parent recalled the child's statement.
  589. In the light of such considerations, Professor Bruck suggests that the most reliable evidence of disclosures would be found in the video recordings. This would also help to determine how much prompting, if any, was required to elicit them. Unfortunately, in the present case the interviews were largely unsatisfactory. Those she was asked to review contained so many suggestive interviewing techniques that they were "chaotic". Not surprisingly, she referred to the literature which demonstrates that the number of false allegations is liable to increase as the interviews become more suggestive. One reason for this is that the bias of the interviewer becomes correspondingly clearer.
  590. Professor Bruck's overall conclusions (at page 132 of her report) were as follows:
  591. "I have reviewed hundreds of interviews with children suspected of abuse; the quality of these interviews has ranged from excellent to very poor. The interviews that I examined in the present case are among the worst that I have ever encountered. In this case, extremely young and bewildered children were brought in and interrogated (sometimes for over an hour) by one, by two and even by three interviewers. These interviewers used the full array of suggestive techniques to elicit allegations of abuse. When the children denied that they had been abused, they were bombarded with more suggestions, they were scolded, they were threatened and they were bribed. And when some children whimpered, moaned or begged the interviewers to end the questioning, the interviewers continued. In sum, the interviews were abusive and the children were victims of the interviewers. There were three aspects of these data that are incontrovertible: (1) these video-taped interviews provide the only opportunity for us to hear the children's own words; (2) the children did not initially make statements that were indicative of abuse; (3) when they did make statements these were preceded by extremely suggestive techniques that render all subsequent statements unreliable".
  592. Professor Bruck gave evidence from 10-12 April. She was a careful, moderate witness. She was always ready to acknowledge the limitations of her experience or skill and to recognise that some of her opinions might have to be revised in the light of later knowledge or second thoughts. She was not in the least dogmatic. She seemed to me to be objective and measured in her assessments. She did not claim to have all the answers, and she emphasised the limited value of some of the literature. In particular, she stressed more than once that there is often difficulty, when assessing data, in determining how certain one can be that any particular child or class of children has been abused.
  593. Another central plank of her evidence was that it was important to focus on what a child first said and, if a voluntary disclosure had been made, that a video recorded interview should take place very shortly thereafter without encouraging the child to say anything further in the interim. It was undesirable, in her view, that days or weeks should elapse before the child's account was recorded.
  594. Professor Bruck did not hold herself out as an expert on child behaviour for the purposes of this trial and had intended to confine her report to the significance of verbal disclosures (and in relation to the limited number of children reviewed). She was nevertheless asked questions about child behaviour in general and some of the behaviour disclosed in the video interviews in particular. She did not attach significance to what the children were doing in the videos, as opposed to what they were saying and, in so far as she thought that the interview techniques were deeply flawed (as she clearly did), she saw no reason to think that behaviour should be regarded as somehow immune from the same tainting process as that affecting the statements.
  595. I found her approach illuminating and in no way undermined in cross-examination. In particular, I did not find her prone to overstatement or exaggeration. Quite the opposite. She seemed keen to be as accurate as she possibly could while recognising the limitations of scientific studies into very young children. It is true that she had an informal, almost casual style. She tended to smile and laugh a good deal – certainly more than the average expert witness. But I did not construe this as in any way undermining the rigour of her analysis or the seriousness with which she approached her task.
  596. In closing, Mr Bishop described Professor Bruck's performance as "just lamentable". This took me by surprise. It is almost as if he and I were watching different witnesses. All I can do is record my own impression.
  597. Dr Friedrich approached the case from a different angle and his original overall conclusion was as follows:
  598. "It is my clinical impression, based on the view of the documents and video tapes provided to me, in combination with my experience in the evaluation and interviewing of very young children, that the majority of the evidence points to sexual abuse of these 28 children. I believe that the abuse onset can be tied to their entry into the Shieldfield Nursery and the weight of the evidence indicates that the perpetrators were Lillie and Reed".
  599. There was, however a new development at a relatively late stage. On 10 April, I was handed a short supplementary report from Dr Friedrich which contained the following introductory paragraph:
  600. "The actual interview process as well as the verbal output from the interviews of the Shieldfield children can be criticised for many reasons. For example, parents were present during interviews, leading questions were common, and the rooms were filled with distracting toys. In addition, the children that were interviewed were typically 2-3 years old. Not only are children of this age more likely to comply with suggestions/leading questions by adults, their expressive language was extremely immature, not just in terms of vocabulary, but in understanding the 'rules of conversation,' e.g. the need to respond to questions. They also lacked a grasp of self-representation, the purpose of the interview, and had no mastery of advanced concepts such as number and place. These difficulties are particularly true for the boys given the typical lag in maturation that young male children exhibit relative to same-aged females. In addition, all of the children were expected to converse in an emotionally charged setting about an emotionally charged subject."
  601. Not surprisingly, on receiving this Miss Page queried whether it was any longer necessary to call Professor Bruck, since he appeared to be conceding her central thesis. Indeed, in her closing submissions Miss Page submitted that his supplemental report "laid to rest" the Review Team's reliance upon the video interviews (all 24 hours of them). It must follow too, she argued, that any subsequent statements by the children would be at least as unreliable.
  602. But Miss Page was unduly optimistic in thinking that Professor Bruck's evidence could be agreed. The emphasis of Dr Friedrich was now placed rather more on behaviour than verbal disclosures and he wished to make reference to his recently developed Evaluation Rating Scale. This is a list of behavioural symptoms said to be indicative, to a greater or lesser extent, of sexual abuse.
  603. Like Professor Bruck, Dr Friedrich is a clinical researcher. He has published 14 articles on the topic of child abuse and another 49 articles on that of specifically sexual abuse. He has also written 17 chapters on sexual abuse. He received the Research Career Achievement Award in 1995 from the American Professional Society on Abuse of Children. He is also on the editorial boards of three specialist journals, namely Child Maltreatment, Journal of Interpersonal Violence, and Journal of Child Sexual Abuse. He has studied the sexual behaviour of over 3,000 non-abused children between the ages of two years and twelve years and of over 1,000 sexually abused children within the same age group. He also developed the Child Sexual Behavior Inventory as a checklist to assist in the evaluation of children where sex abuse is suspected. It has been translated into Dutch, Swedish, Spanish, German, Flemish, Latvian and Italian. His most recent book, Psychological Evaluation of Sexually Abused Children and Their Families, 2001, outlines various strategies for assessing such children.
  604. Elements of what one might call "refined prejudice" emerge in the section of the Report entitled "Risk Factors", relating to each of the Claimants' backgrounds. I have already referred to his erroneous assessment of Dawn Reed's family background. He also addressed that of Christopher Lillie, highlighting such factors as that he is that relatively rare phenomenon a "male nursery care provider"; his "history of violating the law" (i.e. consisting principally in a conviction for the theft of a bicycle when he was aged 15); his mother's premature death; and the fact that, with the benefit of hindsight, various Shieldfield parents describe him as aloof and as not making good eye contact.
  605. These factors do not loom large in my assessment of the grave charges against Mr Lillie, and the fact that Dr Friedrich has highlighted them has not given them added significance. Although he comments that a "thorough assessment must review the alleged perpetrators", any such review would presumably need itself to be thorough in order for it to be of any value.
  606. It is interesting that Dr Friedrich has also prayed in aid the relationship of Joyce and Susan Eyeington (i.e. aunt and niece by marriage) as support for an increased "odds ratio" of the children being maltreated. This is what he describes as the "incestuous nature of the nursery staffing". This example of prejudice may be somewhat less "refined", and I am wary of an expert who is prepared to clutch at straws in this way on the basis of incomplete information. His expertise as a clinical psychologist does not assist me to take into account factors of that kind, in so far as they are relevant.
  607. One matter that Dr Friedrich emphasised was the need to "rely on more than a child's statement in a forensic setting". In particular, he asserted the validity in young children of physical demonstrations of what has occurred, without verbalisation. He mentioned a small child who demonstrated that she had been anally penetrated by poking a pen into a doll in broadly the right location. The particular case he had in mind was an instance where the perpetrator had confessed. It is probably fair to say, however, that context and background would be equally important in assessing the weight to be attached to such a statement, as in the case of a verbal account.
  608. He was clearly conscious of the risks of contamination and expressed a general scepticism about "multi-victim/multi-perpetrator sexual abuse cases", largely because he had experienced allegations of that kind "where their contamination could be observed". A major factor in enabling him to overcome his doubts in the Shieldfield case was that the children disclosed similar matters, which were accompanied by agitated behaviour. It was not to me self-evident that this necessarily weighed against contamination. Be that as it may, other significant factors for Dr Friedrich were to be found in the "evidence" he had pertaining to the Nursery and "the alleged perpetrators". I have already commented on the quality of that. It is merely superficial.
  609. Dr Friedrich warns of the difficulty of evaluating verbal disclosures by pre-school children, owing to their immaturity and lack of communication skills. That is, of course, a statement of the obvious. Disclosures by "pre-schoolers" are lacking in detail and, at times, appear "random, bizarre, and unbelievable". Dr Friedrich then moves from that general proposition, in paragraph 13 of his report, to "these children" (i.e. those from Shieldfield). He asserts that it is likely that they "were threatened to give their co-operation and secrecy". That "likelihood" surely only arises, however, if one assumes that they have been abused. At all events, Dr Friedrich believes it important to focus on evidence of distress and behaviour, as much as upon verbal reports, which may often consist of bare denials or fragmentary accounts. "At this very young age, non-verbal reports are as important as verbal reports". Also, he comments that the statements of very young children become more believable when "linked with genuine affect and behaviour".
  610. Dr Friedrich then proceeds to address the evidence made available to him in relation to each child. He concludes in each case that abuse is likely to have taken place. Subject to what follows, I shall take into account the factors he lists in due course, when I come to assess the overall picture of the evidence relied upon by way of justification.
  611. In the witness box on 12 April Professor Friedrich seemed objective but so cautious as to be non-committal – making such observations as that it was a very complex case and that he was glad that he did not have to decide the facts. When pressed in cross-examination as to his methodology, he spoke very slowly and cautiously, his answers being circumlocutory and difficult to follow. For the most part, they seemed to amount to little more than saying that one had to gather as much information as possible before attempting to make a judgment. He seemed to experience particular difficulty when asked to explain with what degree of probability he was advancing his conclusions of sexual abuse; whether it was uniform in respect of all children or varied from child to child, and the extent to which his conclusions were based on individual cases or global impression. It was all a bit vague:
  612. "A: That is – you know I do not think anyone told me that the, what the standard of proof that we are using a standard of proof, but the standard of – you know if I asked to provide expert testimony in a criminal trial based on this information I would provide that information and I would make that statement and the standard of proof in a criminal trial is beyond a reasonable doubt and I approach this. Yes, I was not informed about the standard of evidence that I had to meet. It was what do you think of this data? What is your conclusion?"
  613. Professor Friedrich's cautious approach in the witness box appeared to contrast with some of the bolder statements in his original report. I take the following examples:
  614. Paragraph 13 "It is likely that these children were threatened to gain their co-operation and secrecy. In fact 17 out of the 28 children reported threats to either self or others. Most child molesters are not silent during this process but will actively shape the child's view of what was going on".
    Paragraph 14 "With this group of nursery children, there is ample evidence that the perpetrators shaped the child's view both of himself and of the abuse".
    Paragraph 18 "In fact, it is likely that many of the sexual behaviors that were perpetrated on these children were subtle and deliberately mislabelled by the perpetrators. This is the likely explanation for Child 14 stating that Lillie's 'Wiggy' landed in her friend's 'Mary,' rather than a statement that more clearly describes what actually happened".
    Paragraph 40 "It is also very likely that the alleged perpetrators actively distorted what was going on by relabeling what was happening or where the child was. For example, many of these children talk about their 'other parent' or their 'other house'. Masturbation is likely to have been called 'water pistols,' 'a game' mentioned by at least two children. Buildings became libraries with a few books, a perfect ploy to use if the child was asked where they had gone that day. The abuse occurred in situations of high anxiety, further reducing the child's capacity to retain what was happening. All of these strategies by the alleged perpetrators add to the difficulty we can having in understanding young abused preschoolers".
  615. In the light of Professor Friedrich's cautious and restrained approach in the witness box, I can only interpret these assertions as theories or postulates. The report consists of a theoretical construct as to what could have happened. Professor Friedrich was completely open and frank in cross-examination. When speaking of his "Evaluator Rating Scale to rate specific behaviors" which emerged from the waves fully formed on 10 April, he recognised that it contained a list of behaviours which could be consistent with abuse (e.g. touching the crotch) or could also be consistent with another explanation (e.g. needing to empty the bladder or some other form of discomfort). He said he never attached points to any such findings by way of marking their significance. This rather suggests that the terms "rating" and "scale" might perhaps give a misleading impression of greater precision and rigour than is truly warranted. He described it as being just a "check list".
  616. He was asked about the scope for cross-contamination between children who were seeing a good deal of each other. He readily accepted (unlike the Review Team) that this was a major factor, although it was not clear how it was taken into account in arriving at his conclusions. He was asked how he approached a situation in which a child was giving an account which included an apparent allegation of sexual abuse against Mr Lillie or Miss Reed but which also contained verifiably inaccurate information (e.g. that other children or teachers were present). How was he able to decide that the one nugget of truth in such an account was that relating to the Claimants? He described it as "an excellent question" but appeared to have no especially informative answer.
  617. Miss Page was doing well, it seemed, because later the same afternoon she asked another question he characterised as "excellent". This time she wanted to know (with reference to paragraph 14 of his report) how he could have concluded that "the perpetrators shaped the child's view both of himself and of the abuse" unless he assumed that abuse had taken place. Similarly, one needs to know how he could have arrived at his conclusion in paragraph 13 (that the children had been threatened to ensure their silence) unless an assumption had been made. These "excellent" questions required a cogent answer. There was a long rambling response extending over two pages (164-166) of the transcript. It was, however, no more than incomprehensible verbiage. It would be a waste of space to include it in this judgment.
  618. Rather engagingly, he said that when he was first instructed in this case he thought to himself "Not another day care case!" He regards such cases as "very daunting". They provide "a huge challenge". Much of the information is, as he described it, "contradictory and difficult to fathom". He was invited by Miss Page to suggest how the court might approach this "daunting" task. He said that it was desirable to look not only at verbal statements but also at the children's behaviour, but to see it all in context. The example he gave was that Child 2 had other factors in her life which could cause anxiety or account for behaviours relied upon, quite apart from the possible explanation of child abuse at the nursery.
  619. In the course of his evidence, Professor Friedrich said that children need to feel good about themselves. He gave the example of his own small son whom he had often taken to play football and who, on one occasion, asked his father if he had seen the two goals he had scored. In fact, his team had lost and the boy scored no goals. This is an example, no doubt, of a child feeling good about himself but, more important for present purposes, it illustrates the tenuous boundary for young children between fact and fantasy. It demonstrates a fundamental difficulty about this case overall. It is, moreover, noteworthy that Professor Friedrich told me that at the time of the football incident he described his son was as much as five years old – significantly older than the Shieldfield children were at any material time.
  620. Mr Bishop put to Professor Bruck more than once that very young children (of three to four years old) might well need prompting to say anything at all. In other words, a certain amount of leading is required. Professor Bruck did not dissent but put her finger on the central problem about all the "disclosures" in this case; namely, that while leading questions may yield allegations consistent with sexual abuse there is no sure way of telling whether they are true or false. One simply has to assess them like any other piece of evidence, taking into account the overall context and how they came to be elicited (if that information is available).
  621. It is necessary not to lose sight of the elementary fact that the study of human behaviour is not a precise science. One needs to be wary also of over-interpreting child behaviour and of what Dr Cameron (the Claimants' child behaviour expert) rather grandly called the "fallacy of post-event matching". What this means, simply, is that one cannot merely look at disparate aspects of a child's behaviour and ascribe them to trauma. One needs also to assess the evidence (if any) that trauma actually occurred. All this, of course, falls well short of "rocket science" and leaves me in the position of having to make up my own mind in the light of the evidence.
  622. Unfortunately, when the court re-assembled on the morning of 15 April, Professor Friedrich's cross-examination went into a downward spiral. He appeared to be out of his depth. It soon emerged that I could place no reliance on his evidence at all. He was very frank and apologetic about it but agreed with Miss Page that his report was of very poor quality. He could hardly do otherwise. It now became quite apparent why there had been such a divergence between his original report and his cautious approach in the witness box.
  623. Although Appendix 2 indicated that he had seen the videotapes listed there, it appears that he had not done so before writing the Report in December 2001 (except for part of Child 14's interviews). Nor had he seen transcripts, except in two or three cases. He only had videotapes in the American format in February 2002. When he did see them, he was obviously not very impressed and this must have accounted for the first paragraph of his supplementary report provided on 10 April (quoted above). He was asked why he had not come to that conclusion in his first report. What emerged was that he had not seen enough to form a view although, crucially, anyone reading his report between December and April would have thought that he had seen all relevant videos.
  624. This was not a promising start to the day – especially in view of the fact that Professor Friedrich was the expert put forward on the significance of the children's verbal disclosures (in opposition to Professor Bruck). I infer that, having seen the tapes, he realised how deeply flawed the interviews were. Since, however, he had already committed himself to firm conclusions to the effect that child abuse had taken place, he had to find some other peg on which to hang those conclusions. He shifted his centre of gravity to "associated behaviours" in his supplemental report, despite the fact that Dr Hewitt was supposed to be the expert in that arena. This seismic shift failed to carry conviction, and he would have done rather better to own up at an earlier stage that he had never seen the "disclosures" he was supposed to be evaluating.
  625. Miss Page put to him that, in his capacity as "disclosures" expert, he should have focused on the transcripts (if the tapes were not available) as his first priority. That was obviously right. He said he would have been doing a disservice only to focus on them. This was to miss the point of Miss Page's question, since he had not focused at all on either the videos or the transcripts in respect of approximately a dozen children he was telling the court had been abused. That was a disservice.
  626. It might have seemed that things could hardly get worse. They did. In relation to Child 1, he purported on page 19 of his report to be describing the content of the first video interview on 28 July 1993. It seems in fact that he was actually having a shot at describing the second video of 7 February 1994. Even that, however, was inaccurate. He gave the impression to anyone reading his report that Child 1 was saying, as early as July 1993, that Christopher Lillie had "hurt" him. He did not. Worse still, however, is the fact that he did not do so in the second video interview either. Instead of recognising his blunder, Professor Friedrich decided to have a third crack at upholding his conclusions "on the spot" (in both senses). He said that the content of the first (28 July) video was quite "rich" even though the child said nothing at all against Christopher Lillie or Dawn Reed.
  627. Not unreasonably, Miss Page put to Professor Friedrich that his rather bold conclusions were based on misinformation. He replied merely, "I would conjecture there are a couple of date errors here and there".
  628. He then tried to say that his mistaken account of the July interview at least corresponded to what the child had earlier told his mother. Professor Friedrich would then be able to base his conclusions (at this stage free-floating and without support) on such earlier statements. Unfortunately, this was simply not true. He had not told his mother that Chris has "hurt" him. The next strategy was to say that, even if he had not reported physical harm to his mother, he had at least said things to her that were capable of being construed as emotional abuse. At this stage I could hardly keep up with Professor Friedrich's footwork. At all events, I realised finally that I could place no reliance on him at all. It was a complete waste of time and money.
  629. I was in two minds as to whether to bring the exercise to a conclusion, as it would simply be better in some respects to move to the next witness. But I thought this would probably be unfair to both sides.
  630. Next, Professor Friedrich was asked if he had been told of Chief Inspector Campbell Findlay's warnings to the Review Team about placing any reliance on the mother of Child 1 (which they chose to ignore or reject) or anything about his difficult home background. There was a certain amount of obfuscation, but it was clear that he had not been told. That was hardly his fault since he could only proceed on what he was given.
  631. In his report (page 18) Child 1 is described by Professor Friedrich as adopting a posture and he uses the words (in quotation marks) "proffers his bottom". That supposed quotation came from nowhere. Despite being in quotation marks, it is Professor Friedrich's interpretation of the information form the mother's police statement of 17 August 1993 that he had his head and shoulders near the ground with his bottom raised in the air. There is no information contained in that document as to whether the child was clothed, naked or partially clothed or as to which way he was facing. His mother's reaction was apparently to tell him to sit properly. He made the point that the boy did not say who had "taught" him to do this. Clearly, the sinister but unspoken assumption is that Christopher Lillie had taught the child to position himself with his bottom raised in the air for the purposes of buggery or some other penetrative abuse. When Miss Page confronted Professor Friedrich with this grave allegation, which he appeared to be endorsing in his expert report, he rather drew back from it (as well he might). Nevertheless, his report makes the claim (on page 21) that "his physical findings are consistent with sexual abuse". The only relevant physical finding is in Dr San Lazaro's report of 22 July 1993. This was that anal inspection "revealed a symmetrical pattern and no evidence of previous significant damage". Another false point.
  632. When one remembers the gravity of these allegations, and the truly daunting implications for Mr Lillie and Miss Reed, it beggars belief how casually this so-called expert report was thrown together and served up to the court.
  633. Attention was then turned to Child 5. This was the girl who only overlapped with Mr Lillie at Shieldfield for a few days up to 7 April 1993, and was throughout in the care of Jackie Bell, Diane Wood and Patricia Hammemi. Professor Friedrich for some reason proceeded in his report on the misinformation that the child had been in the Red Room with Mr Lillie. According to Appendix 2, Professor Friedrich had seen the relevant Day Book entries for Child 5 which cover the days in question. For obvious reasons, they were not in the writing of either of the Claimants, and there was not the remotest possibility of forgery or collusion by any of the three actual carers.
  634. Professor Friedrich, in order to prop up his allegation that Child 5 had been abused, asserts "… even in this brief time period, she is reported to have started to wet herself". There is nothing in the Day Book entries to support the assertion. Where he got it from is the "disclosure chart" prepared by the lawyers, but there no date is given. It was Professor Friedrich who decided to attribute it to the brief period up to 7 April 1993. If he had bothered to read the Day Book entries, he could have seen for himself that the child was not in the Red Room and that there was no evidence of wetting. In these respects, therefore, Professor Friedrich does not have the excuse that he was given misleading information. The mistakes are his.
  635. Miss Page also focused on Child 28. With my permission (contained in a ruling on 15 April), she carried out this exercise, in order to save time, by inviting Professor Friedrich's comments on the much longer comments of Professor Zeitlin on this child. Professor Zeitlin is the expert engaged on the City Council's behalf in the negligence proceedings. He presented a rather different picture, but it is important to emphasise that this extract from his report was not introduced as evidence of its contents, but as a convenient vehicle for challenging Professor Friedrich on his methodology (both in relation to Child 28 and generally). As it happened, by the time she turned to this Miss Page did not really need it. She had already despatched Professor Friedrich over the pavilion for six. He was no longer in contention.
  636. There came a time when Professor Friedrich was asked by Miss Page to choose any child and demonstrate to the court how he had satisfied himself in that instance that other factors could be eliminated, so as to enable him to conclude that the weight of the evidence pointed to the child having been abused by Mr Lillie and Miss Reed. He chose Child 10. This was perhaps surprising in view of the fact that this boy had been later diagnosed as suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The case therefore presented a particular challenge because the symptoms had to be carefully considered with a view to eliminating that as a potential explanation – quite apart from addressing the usual factors of family and domestic circumstances and other life events which could be relevant.
  637. Nevertheless, having opted for Child 10, Professor Friedrich tumbled straight into the elephant trap. He was invited to look at what he had written on page 35 of his original report. He said that "Child 10 had considerable exposure to the care of Lillie and Reed and his persistent behavioral regression, sexualization, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are in keeping with this exposure".
  638. Miss Page put to him that this was an example of his "palpable bias". He was starting from an assumption that there had been abuse in the Red Room. His response was unimpressive. He said that he found the mother of Child 10 to have been "benign" and that accordingly he was left with Shieldfield as the source of his problems. Given the scale of this boy's problems, even as disclosed in the Day Books (which Professor Friedrich received), and the pressures that his mother was having to cope with (as a single parent), it was a superficial approach to put the ADHD to one side without any apparent attempt to fit it into the picture.
  639. This was perhaps all the more remarkable in the light of what Professor Friedrich was saying on p.138 of his most recent book on sexually abused children; namely, that some of the clusters of symptoms are commonly found in groups of children other than those who are known to have been sexually abused – including specifically those with ADHD. It seems extraordinary that Professor Friedrich, of all people, should not have set about explaining carefully how Child 10's cluster of behaviours could with such confidence be attributed to sexual abuse rather than ADHD. What he said was that he was looking at the Shieldfield children as a whole and that, so far as Child 10 was concerned, he focused on his sexualised behaviour:
  640. "Well, if we stay with Child 10 the degree of sexual and aggressive behaviour that he does exhibit is going to be very separate from, say, a diagnosis of ADHD or a stressed out single parent and so we do go back to sexual behaviour and the origins of that and thinking about what is possible in this child's life".
    This does not really meet the point.
  641. An important topic for Professor Friedrich to address, as I have said, was that of cross-contamination. There were obvious potential sources of contamination both with regard to parents and children. But one in particular became the main focus of Miss Page's cross-examination. That was the Yellow Room during the period when Child 23 was there. There were a number of common themes which, she argued, on a balance of probabilities could be attributed to contamination by Child 23 in that environment. Miss Page wanted to know how Professor Friedrich had eliminated that factor as a possible explanation for statements made by Children 4, 5, 7, 8, 17 and 28. He did concede that over the weekend of 13-14 April, when doing some "homework" set him by Miss Page, he had decided that he could not conclude that Child 5 had been abused. Nevertheless, he still held out for abuse in the case of the others. It was therefore pertinent to find out how he had discounted cross-contamination for them. Much time was spent pressing for an answer and there were generalities in response, such as taking into account early statements and other behaviour, but I was not convinced. There is no evidence that it was addressed in any analytical way at all.
  642. Similarly, there was the Child 87 factor. He was exhibiting worrying and persistent sexualised behaviour and aggression during the summer of 1993 and had been a thorough nuisance in this respect. He was trying to get into girls' knickers and simulate intercourse (in particular, with Child 21). Professor Friedrich was only told about this after his report was written. It is obvious therefore that he was not in a position to eliminate it as at least a partial explanation for sexual interest on the part of those who came into contact with him. Anyone who failed to address these points might just as well be giving a general seminar on potential factors in child abuse. It does not greatly assist the more specific inquiry as to what happened in the Shieldfield environment a decade ago.
  643. Professor Friedrich was also pressed on how he could possibly, on the limited information before him, make the claim contained in paragraph 100 to the effect that the weight of the evidence pointed to abuse by Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed. Miss Page put to Professor Friedrich that his evidence was flawed, unscientific and lacking in objectivity. He begged to differ, but she was clearly right. It might be thought offensive of Miss Page to suggest, as she did, that Professor Friedrich's reasoning represented no advance on the reading of tea-leaves. But it was a good deal less offensive than the accusations he was making against Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed, for which he was claiming scientific and professional objectivity. He told me that he had his introduction to the two Claimants through the Review Team Report. That clearly coloured his whole approach. Everything he addressed was used as a pointer to child abuse. That is the opposite of scientific objectivity. It is simply a case of the very phenomenon of cross-contamination he was being asked to analyse.
  644. At one point Professor Friedrich said (I believe somewhat unguardedly) that he had calculated the likelihood of the Defendants' allegations being true. When asked for the answer he had worked out, there was nothing very precise forthcoming. That is hardly surprising, but what is objectionable is that all his speculations should be clothed in a mantle of scientific rigour. What he actually said was this:
  645. "A: Well, take, for example, the association of sexually intrusive behaviour – by that I mean children touching other children sexually. That was reported in 17 of these children. That is a very unusual behaviour for it to be reported in a group of children like this. It suggests something that is clearly not random. It suggests something that is very likely – very unlikely to have occurred without some actual sexually abusive experience having been common in these children's lives and so that would make it highly likely that these children had been exposed to a sexually abusive experience. If you simply go to the risk factors in Mr Lillie's life, you do not have that high degree of likelihood. You simply have increased the likelihood of him having - of him maltreating, maybe on the order of two to three times more likely. So that is one way that I looked at probability across different scenarios, different behaviours, different individuals."
  646. This stream of consciousness material is of no value whatever (even if it is possible to attribute meaning to the words). As to the "risk factors in Mr Lillie's life", Miss Page asked him if he had a single piece of evidence outside the Shieldfield context of Mr Lillie maltreating anyone in his life before or since. Of course, he had not.
  647. Miss Page asked several times for the validation of his evaluator scale methodology. She got nowhere. His supplemental report included a statement that it had been validated by the research of a postgraduate, but he was being supervised by Professor Friedrich himself. In any event, this research was not produced. As a checklist, there is nothing wrong with a catalogue of symptoms or behaviours, as Dr Cameron recognised, but just because he accords it the smart title of "Evaluator Rating Scale" it does not mean that Professor Friedrich's opinions need to be given particular weight. Fundamentally important for any scientist's opinions, in court or elsewhere, are the data on which they are based. Here the material was so partial, incomplete and misleading as to render any opinion worthless. Once flaws are pointed out, a scientist will go back to the drawing board or the laboratory bench and start afresh. Here what was so astonishing was that Professor Friedrich clung to his original opinions with whatever piece of rope he was thrown. In re-examination, for example, he was shown odd bits and pieces of material he had not seen at the time of his original report and adopted it as support for his conclusions without any testing or analysis at all.
  648. In re-examination, he was shown a report by an expert instructed in the City Council's negligence action and said that his approach was quite similar. But I did not find this helpful as that report had clearly got several of the children hopelessly muddled up.
  649. At the conclusion of his evidence, I was glad that I had not encouraged greater brevity the day before (as I had contemplated) because the longer he went on the more it became apparent just how feeble his pseudo-scientific claims were.
  650. I was seriously troubled how it could have come about that an expert could have presented the Claimants' advisers and the court with a report on the children's disclosures while claiming in Appendix 2 to have seen the video interviews (the raw data he was being asked about) when he knew that he had not. Moreover, he actually states in his overall conclusion (quoted above) that his clinical impression was "based on the view of the documents and video tapes provided to me" (emphasis added). That was just simply untrue. On 16 April I asked Mr Bishop whether his solicitors were aware of this at the time they served the report. I wanted to know how it was allowed to happen that for some four months the Claimants' advisers (and, for that matter, the court) had been misled into thinking that Professor Friedrich had seen the videos on which he was purporting to base his conclusions. It was a continuing misrepresentation. Either he misled the solicitors (for the Review Team and the Newcastle Chronicle) or he had informed them that he could not view the material (because he did not have the American formatted video tapes). If the latter, the unlikely scenario was beginning to emerge that solicitors had been party to this deception. The following day I was told by Mr Bishop that his instructing solicitors did find out shortly after serving the report that Professor Friedrich had not seen the videos – but they failed to pass this on to the Claimants' advisers. I asked for an explanation by way of witness statement from the solicitor.
  651. I was provided on 13 May with a statement by Mr Cunningham of Wragge & Co, the firm representing the City Council and Review Team Defendants. It emerged that Mr Bishop had been misled. It did not dawn on Wragge & Co until 12 April that Professor Friedrich had not seen the video tapes prior to writing his report which contained the false claim to which I have referred. Indeed, I was shown an attendance note of a telephone conversation on 15 January, when it appeared that Wragge & Co were assured by Cathryn Smith of Foot Anstey Sargent (the Chronicle's solicitors) that experts "had seen copies of all the video interviews". In due course, in the midst of closing submissions on 18 June I received a full witness statement from Cathryn Smith explaining the position form her point of view. She said that she only became aware that Professor Friedrich had not watched the tapes prior to his Report being served when she read the transcript of these proceedings for 17 April. She said "I was astonished by this revelation, because Professor Friedrich had been instructed to comment upon the verbal disclosures contained within the interviews, had been provided with copies of them for the purpose of viewing them". She also said that it was not right that she had given an "assurance" to Wragge & Co that Professor Friedrich had actually watched the videos. The discussion was rather about the provision of DVD copies to Professor Friedrich and the court. I expect she is right about that, but what is clear is that neither of the firms of solicitors were aware of the omission. It would seem that the primary responsibility therefore lies with Professor Friedrich.
  652. In June, after the evidence was concluded, I was invited to take into account a letter from Professor Friedrich explaining his position. In fairness to him, I should set out its contents:
  653. "I was asked to reply to a question raised on Thursday, April 25th, regarding the intent of my statement from paragraph 11–100 of my report. The statement reads "It is my clinical impression based on a review of the documents and video tapes provided to me in combination with my experience in the evaluation and interviewing of very young children that the majority of the evidence points to sexual abuse of these 28 children".
    The concern of the court is that this statement constitutes a misrepresentation as to what I had and had not reviewed prior to writing my report. I will address three issues in this reply. The first pertains to what I had told Foot Anstey Sargent about my materials review. The second issue is [sic] pertains to what it is that I meant in the above quote, and the third issue addresses the relevant circumstances regarding the review, e.g. timetable, time pressures, deadlines, etc.
    The primary issue pertains to the fact that while prior to my report I had reviewed all of the transcripts that were provided to me (Children 1, 14, 19-a partial transcript, 22-a partial transcript, and 24), I had only fully reviewed 1.5 videotapes. These were half of the 3 videotapes that were available on Child #14. I do not have any documentation of what I specifically informed Foot Anstey Sargent prior to sending the report to them. I do know that after my first phone call with Cathryn Smith on 10-19, I had phone calls with Foot Anstey Sargent representatives on 11-13, 11-20, 11-30, 12-3 and 12-4. I was receiving boxes of materials on a regular basis and using every available moment to read what was being sent to me. I do know that on at least one of the phone calls, I said that I was having problems reviewing the videos since they were in a European format. I was informed around the 20th of December that Wragge & Co. had already embarked on transferring the video material to DVD format and these arrived in early January. By that time I had personally arranged to have the videos changed into a North American format and had embarked on the task not only of reviewing the verbal content but also coding the nonverbal behavior displayed during the interview.
    Finally, I did not create the list of documents reviewed (Appendix 2) that was attached by Foot Anstey Sargent to the end of my report. On April 24, I did provide Mr Cunningham with an itemized list that indicated what of that list I had reviewed. Appendix 2 was generally complete, although I had reviewed several documents that were not cited in Appendix 2.
    The second issue asks for an answer as to what I meant in my statement, '… based on a review of the documents and videotapes provided to me…'. First, I would like to offer that this statement does not mean that I read every line of every document or watched every second of videotape. My charge was to primarily focus on the verbal productions of these children. As soon as case materials began to arrive in early November, I first reviewed an executive summary of the review team's report. I next reviewed all materials that were specifically about or from Lillie and Reed. I then reviewed every parent statement and then all of the interview transcripts. I was not surprised to read in these transcripts what I typically hear from American preschoolers. What I read were earnest and well-meaning professionals interviewing minimally disclosive children. That impression was supported by the videotaped interviews I reviewed on Child#14. I concluded that the child interviews would not be the source of data that would enable me to arrive at a decision about what if anything had happened to these children.
    Consequently, I then began to read the therapist notes, the daybooks, and the expert reports by a variety of mental health professionals. I used the disclosure summaries to point to specific primary sources that I would read if I had not yet done so. In addition, I reread the case data in order to code behaviors of these children along the dimensions of PTSD and sexual behavior. I moved in this direction since it has been my experience which is supported by research literature, some of which I had contributed to, that behavior was the most important source of information about a preschool child's abuse status.
    I can appreciate that there was a decision in this case that asked for an expert to review the verbal disclosures and another to review the children's behavior. This decision makes sense if these children had been older at the time they were first interviewed, or if the interviewers had been more expert. But the transcripts were clear that what I heard in Child 14's videotapes was typical of the other children. The same is true of the brief quotes from the child interviews that were summarized in the disclosure tables for each child.
    Consequently, I believe I comprehensively reviewed the key material that was available on these children, and partially reviewed the direct verbal output of these children in the forensic interviews. I believe that I targeted my efforts to maximize the utility of my time spent on the volumes of material that were sent to me.
    If I had meant to misrepresent my review to the court, I would have been less straightforward on the witness stand when I stated that I had only reviewed half of the taped material on Child #14. In addition, I also expressed to the court that some the handwritten therapy notes and Daybook materials were also difficult to read in their entirety, although I made every attempt to do so. Finally, after reviewing additional material during the course of my testimony, I reversed my decision about one child. This speaks further to my objectivity and willingness to listen to the data.
    Finally, I have never worked so intensely and under such pressure as I have on this case. I had only put in 2 hours of document review prior to 11-14, when I was able to clear my calendar and concentrate on the regularly arriving boxes from the U.K. Between 11-14 and the delivery of the report, I spent over 130 hours reading case materials and coding data points that I could further analyze. This does not begin to reflect the additional hours I spent thinking about the case when away from the actual material. I have occasionally completed document reviews on similar cases with fewer children and have never spent as much time per child as I did with the Shieldfield case. I truly do believe that I gave the material the review that was necessary to analyze the data and arrive at a valid and completely justifiable conclusion.
    I hope that this information will make my position clear and I would be pleased to answer any further questions the court may have about the preparation of my report.
    Yours sincerely
    William N. Friedrich, Ph.D., ABPP"
  654. Ms Smith also commented on this letter. She said that she had no reason to believe that Professor Friedrich had not overcome any difficulties he had mentioned in watching the videos in European format. She certainly believed that he had watched them.
  655. Dr Sandra Hewitt and Dr Hamish Cameron: Child behaviour
  656. The experts dealing with interpretation of child behaviour, and the extent to which certain manifestations might or might not be linked to sexual or other abuse, were Dr Sandra Hewitt for the Defendants and Dr Hamish Cameron for the Claimants. Each of them considered individual children and the available information about their behavioural patterns, but also addressed more general issues.
  657. Dr Hewitt records how she would often encounter very young children and experience difficulty in structuring interviews in a way that would efficiently extract reliable information. She explained that this was, or appeared to be, because the children were lacking in the language skills (and presumably also concepts) that were necessary to communicate what she wanted to know. She then decided that she could regard behaviour as "the language they did have". She claimed that "suddenly" it was easy to understand children. "Behaviours are the mirrors of young children's experiences. In assessing cases of pre-school sexual abuse, that is where we were to look for information about a child's past".
  658. As to the 28 Shieldfield cases she reviewed, she referred to a recurring leitmotiv ("something very powerful") which they had in common. She claims that they were caused "massive dysregulation from their stable entrance behaviours". She identified eight issues to be considered:
  659. 1) The combination of significant trauma and atypical sexual behaviours.
    2) A commonality of fears, actions and references to places (not normally experienced in a random sampling of abused children) pointing to a common source.
    3) She thought old memories were triggered and recalled in detail following a medical examination or formal interview. She describes "remarkable responses" to such events that were "unprompted and unstructured", thus emerging "with emotion and content intact".
    4) Consistency of recall "not only within their accounts, but also across many children".
    5) The commonality of atypical sexual behaviours she regards as "virtually impossible" without a common source.
    6) She excluded the hypotheses of cross-contamination and suggestive questioning in her child-by-child analysis.
    7) The commonality of atypical symptoms across so many children defies the probability of other causes than the origin of the trauma at Shieldfield.
    8) In sum, she concludes, the cases reviewed match a "research and practice population of sexually abused pre-school children" but, in any event, the rich behavioural data cannot be explained by any other reasonable hypothesis than the experience of sexual abuse at Shieldfield Nursery during the time the children were in the Red Room with Lillie and Reed as their nurses.
  660. This list gives rise to questions that I shall have to consider carefully, namely (1) the extent to which these eight issues are truly distinct from each other, (2) whether significant questions have been begged, and (3) whether Dr Hewitt has been operating on correct factual data. (For example, Child 5, Child 11, Child 14 and Child 31 were never in the Red Room.)
  661. Once again, the experts divided more or less on "party lines". Dr Cameron was asked to consider a sample of only seven Shieldfield children. While he agrees that sexualised behaviour in two to four year olds, provided it is "persistent, intrusive and seems 'driven' within the child", should alert one to the possibility of sexual abuse, neither this nor any other behaviour can be regarded as probative or diagnostic of sexual abuse. So much depends on context. He highlighted the very important point that one cannot come up with a responsible diagnosis on paper without having seen the child and investigating his or her particular circumstances. That is something Dr Cameron is used to doing either clinically or for the purposes of family litigation.
  662. Some of the behaviours noted at Shieldfield are neither probative nor indicative of sexual abuse in two to four year olds (e.g. nightmares or disturbed sleep, lack of speech development, fear of dogs, becoming upset in certain locations, fear of clowns or beards, pre-occupation with death, aggression, bed-wetting or soiling). In the course of cross-examination, Dr Hewitt was quite prepared to put the issue of clowns to one side as irrelevant to the matter of child abuse.
  663. On the other hand, unusual sexual posturing or play can at least be indicative of sexual abuse. It is thus important to be careful about what is classified as "sexual" in this context – a matter I shall turn to again.
  664. It is necessary to allow for "separation anxiety" when starting at a nursery, or changing rooms within it, as a possible explanation for behavioural changes or regression. Moreover, behavioural deterioration arising after questioning might connote the awakening of dormant memories of past abuse or, alternatively, the arousal through clumsy interviewing of fears about certain individuals, if portrayed as threatening or wicked people. It is inevitably the case that a belief that one (or, in the case of a parent, one's child) has been subjected to wicked behaviour can in itself lead to trauma and severe disruption of one's life.
  665. While Dr Cameron recognises that it is established knowledge that one of the techniques used by paedophiles is that of threatening or cajoling their victims into silence, he regards it as unrealistic to suppose such a technique could have worked in relation to all of these children, so as to prevent the making of contemporaneous complaints. He considers that a significant proportion, at least, would have complained immediately to a principal carer or trusted relative. He expressed "grave doubt" as to whether any of the relevant children's remarks could be construed as indicating coercive threats or enticement. It is his opinion, in respect of the children he reviewed, that such remarks as could be interpreted as reflecting enticement, or coercive threats, were so inconclusive that a reader would have to construct that scenario out of very few facts. In this context, it is naturally worth remembering how widely the Review Team cast the net of the Claimants' alleged abuse. They did not in the Report confine their findings to the 27 children in this case. Far from it. They suggest that the abuse was much wider. On Dr Cameron's thesis, therefore, it becomes even less likely that all the supposed victims would have remained silent.
  666. Dr Cameron considers that it is important to focus first on more common or expected causes for clusters of symptoms in young children, before attributing an explanation which is not within ordinary experience. Each child has to be considered individually, with particular reference to family background and personal circumstances. It is also important to recall that the large majority of children suffering from sexual abuse incur it within the family. "Stranger sexual abuse is less common. Even rarer is sexual abuse by an unrelated man and woman working together to organise and systematically sexually abuse a large number of children in their care". Unlike Dr Hewitt, Dr Cameron does not regard the recurring themes in the children's "disclosures" as pointing inexorably to abuse by Mr Lillie and Miss Reed. He refers to some of these notions (e.g. "flats", "lifts", "an old woman", "nakedness in bed together") as having an "interactive imaginative quality, typical of childhood story telling under questioning". He went, originally, so far as to offer the opinion that, focusing specifically on the behaviours described, the balance would be 90:10 in favour of common place explanations rather than a planned sexual abuse programme engineered by Mr Lillie and Miss Reed which, in his view, remains no more than a "possibility". (I believe, in the witness box, he accepted that putting a precise figure to the probabilities was unsatisfactory and that, in any event, if one were to assess the evidence separately in relation to each child the probabilities would vary.) In coming to an overall conclusion, of course, Dr Cameron accepts that one has to factor in to the exercise other forms of evidence and, in particular, statements by the children and any physical findings by paediatricians.
  667. Because he was taking a cautious approach rather than claiming certainty, very little was added to the overall picture by his oral evidence on 16-18 April. But I found him helpful, cautious and objective. It is true that he started off a little bumptiously and cracked a few jokes, but he soon got into his stride. His primary message was to warn about leaping to conclusions too readily – especially in the light of the Cleveland inquiry to which he had given expert assistance 15 years ago. One needs to approach the matter in an open-minded way and without being wedded to pre-conceptions or any idιe fixe. He was referring particularly to Dr Marietta Higgs and her apparent obsession with reflex anal dilatation. He said that one always needs to be watchful for any professional who was narrowly specialised and over-zealous in diagnosis. That is wise advice and I bore it in mind.
  668. There was an interesting example of the need for full information in the course of his cross-examination. His attention was directed to Child 23 whose video material he had been asked to watch before giving evidence. He said that it was necessary to consider carefully all possible explanations for her symptoms. He had not been given her GP notes and was, therefore, unaware of her history of urinary problems and associated soreness. When told about this, he immediately recognised that it was a material factor. This is simply one of many examples in the case where the addition of one new category of information about a child can significantly shift the balance of probabilities derived from first impressions.
  669. There were a number of significant general propositions put forward by Dr Cameron and underlined with considerable conviction. First, at the beginning of his evidence on 18 April, he referred to the situation where a mother may suddenly come to believe (as a result, say, of a parents' meeting or some other conversation) that her child has been abused, and thereafter becomes obsessively committed to an idea which had not previously entered her head. This is, as it were, the "zeal of the converted":
  670. "A difficulty, my Lord, is that that kind of sudden understanding, the flash of understanding comes with such force into the mind of the mother, a very reasonably concerned mother about her child, is often so strong that [it] becomes really a very entrenched belief which has far more energy from the emotions attached to it than from the logic attached to it, but I agree that it is understandable and reasonable presumption that the mother leapt to. But it is the way it sticks in the mind. It is the sudden conversion of belief which is driven emotionally as much as by intellect".
  671. Secondly, Dr Cameron was asked by Miss Page about the possibility for diagnosing child abuse without the opportunity of seeing the relevant child or children or of investigating the family circumstances. He made the following point:
  672. "I actually think paper exercises are very difficult things to do and fraught with risk in drawing conclusions. I like the approach that Dr Hewitt talked about the interview and I particularly like when she says [in her book] 'to schedule at least a 2 hour intake period'. 'At least' is in my experience quite the operative word. You often need a long time to really get the feel of the child. A paper exercise can take you so far, but actually it is in my view a very risky business going and drawing conclusions from papers alone. That is the difficulty I have myself found in giving evidence in this case – that I have been asked about behaviours on paper, and that is it, and I think it has come out in cross-examination. This is – it is a limited exercise".
  673. Shortly afterwards, Dr Cameron gave evidence which is fundamentally important for this case and it is therefore desirable that I should set it out in extenso:
  674. "Did it occur or did it not occur? What I was trying to say is that, as I understand this case, Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed are alleged to have abused a group of children, a substantial group of children, so that the children themselves are the focus of having been abused, and the case emerges out of that group phenomenon. The parents say 'our child has been abused'. The alternative view is that there is still a group phenomenon but the group phenomenon is based on a collective belief that the children have been abused. The first one, the child has actually been abused. The second one, is there is a collective belief the children have been abused. When that collective belief takes root in a group it is a very powerful force. It actually holds people in a group, who mutually reinforce each other and it is quite difficult for professionals, unless they are very experienced, to stand back from the weight of that belief system. Now, that is the sort of belief system that child psychiatrists (of whom a number have been mentioned in this case) are familiar [with] when parents have a belief about a sickness in their child. That is the factitious disease by proxy idea: 'I believe my child is ill or harmed, therefore my child is ill or harmed, and my neighbour's child is ill or harmed, and my neighbour's neighbour's child is ill or harmed. All of us together as parents who have a child at this nursery – our children are ill or harmed'. What is striking is that when one looks at that group of parents who come to occupy that belief, you find that others within the group will not say the same and that they refuse to join that group. They say, 'No, no, we do not think anything went on', but the belief system is a very powerful one. So when I am talking about the alternative hypothesis I am not trying to have a 'yes – no, were these children abused or not?' I am trying to say these children have suffered harm. Either these children have been physically and sexually abused, as described, and they had actually been harmed, or the belief system in the group of parents, supported sometimes by professionals, has led to the perception that they had been harmed, and that perception has itself been abusive to the children. These children have been emotionally abused by the collective belief. So that is what I am saying, when I just wanted to set out the context within which I would analyse the case".
  675. I asked Dr Cameron to elaborate further, so as to give any examples either from his own experience or from the literature of such a group phenomenon in operation. He told me that he had come across it himself in the context of new religious movements and, in particular, the "Children of God" case in which he was involved. He said that there was a collective belief system about the children within that organisation. He did, however, refer to other examples in the literature such as the Kelly Michaels case and the Little Rascals case in the United States. As to this jurisdiction, reference was also made to Re E [1991] 1 F.L.R. 420 (Scott Baker J) and Rochdale Borough Council v. A [1991] 2 F.L.R. 192 (Douglas Brown J). Both of these cases are well known and I do not think anything would be gained by my summarising them or addressing parallels with, or distinctions from, the present case. Each factual situation must be addressed individually.
  676. Dr Sandra Hewitt found herself in a difficult position because she was being asked to offer an opinion in a case for which, as she put it, there were "no road maps". She agreed with Dr Cameron as to the limitations upon a purely paper exercise such as that she was required to carry out. She did not regard it as her function to "diagnose" child abuse in this case. She accepted that the decision as to whether abuse had taken place at Shieldfield could only be taken by the court in the light of the overall evidence. Since, however, she had been asked by the Defendants' solicitors to offer an opinion on the behaviour of children in this case, she would do her best. But she emphasised that it was an artificial one-off exercise, since not only was her task to be carried out on the papers alone but it was to be confined to behaviour (thus excluding many potentially relevant factors).
  677. This was a perfectly reasonable stance to take, but it seemed a little difficult to reconcile with what she had actually said in her report. For example, Miss Page referred her to page 21, where she appeared to be offering something very like a diagnosis in respect of Child 2:
  678. "Child 2's patterns, over time and across situations, strongly indicate that she suffered trauma as a result of the placement with Lillie and Reed. Her behaviours, coupled with [her] statements best identify the source of trauma".
  679. Dr Hewitt would not accept that this could be described as a "diagnosis"; she preferred to call it "a conclusion from data". This is, of course, to some extent a matter of semantics.
  680. It is quite obvious to me that Dr Hewitt took a great deal of time and trouble over preparing a report in this case and that she was determined to be as objective and helpful as she could. I must pay particular attention, however, to the fact that she (like the other experts) finds herself in unusual circumstances in this case. The exercise is inevitably an artificial one because she had to work on what she called "retrospective data" without seeing the children or having an opportunity to establish the complete factual background in relation to any child. Nevertheless, her terms of reference may somewhat obscure the limited nature of the enterprise. She referred me to a passage on page 9 of her report, which included the request from the Defendants' solicitors that she should "… express an opinion as to the extent to which any inference may reliably be drawn from the behaviours of those 28 children as to (a) whether they have been abused; and if so (b) what form the abuse took; (c) when the abuse took place and (d) the setting in which the abuse occurred". It is noteworthy that Dr Hewitt was not, in principle, prepared to take what has been described as a "leap too far". She has rightly emphasised that all she could do was to assist the court by reference to the limited data in the light of her experience. I am grateful for that assistance but naturally I can only regard anything in her report that looks like a "conclusion" or a "diagnosis" as of limited value.
  681. Dr Hewitt focused very much in her report on the concept of traumatic stress disorder and referred to the recognised criteria for understanding trauma responses in young children to be found in the Zero to Three Diagnostic Classification Manual. As I have already made clear, Dr Cameron has pointed to the danger of looking at symptoms sometimes associated with traumatic stress disorder and working backwards from them to a conclusion that, in any given case, a trauma must have taken place. In the course of his re-examination, he said this:
  682. "I have great respect for Dr Sandra Hewitt's work, my Lord, but I have to say that when children have experienced a major trauma at the hands of carers they will actually tell people that they have experienced something awful and frightening and in my view if trauma (by that I mean menacing violent actions towards the child) is fundamental to the assessment, and there is no evidence of that, no satisfactory evidence of that whatsoever… then I cannot professionally see how there can be a post traumatic stress disorder assumption. You have to have a trauma before you can have a PTSD. If you diagnose PTSD in a child and then say, 'therefore there must have been a trauma', that is not logical and it does not add up".
  683. This warning ties in with the content of a chapter in Expert Witnesses in Child Abuse Cases: What Can and Should Be Said in Court published by the American Psychological Association under the editorship of Stephen Ceci and Helene Hembrooke. The chapter is by Celia B. Fisher and Katherine A. Whiting, How valid are child sexual abuse validations? It contains the following relevant paragraphs, at p.166:
  684. "Psychologists applying the PTSD diagnosis as validation of child sexual abuse fail to recognise the tautological nature of this position (Fisher, 1995). According to DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994), the essential feature of PTSD is 'the development of characteristic symptoms following exposure, to an extreme traumatic stress' (italics added, p.424). Thus, the validity of the PTSD diagnosis depends on first establishing that the child has been a victim of an uncommon trauma. Accordingly, to meet ethical and forensic demands for scientifically based evidence of child sexual abuse, a PTSD diagnosis cannot be established in the absence of independent documentation that sexual abuse has occurred.
    In some cases, PTSD-like behaviors may be a consequence of the stressful nature of repeated interrogations by investigators, parents, therapists, or some combination of these people who attempted to substantiate whether sexual abuse had occurred (Fisher, 1995; Gardner, 1994). For example, in some instances, overenthusiastic social workers, police investigators, or psychologists may attempt to elicit from a child information regarding suspected abuse by describing lurid accusations made by others about the accused (see Bruck, Ceci, & Rosenthal, 1995). According to DSM-IV, learning about serious harm experienced by family or close friends may also trigger PTSD symptoms. Gardner suggested that court-appointed evaluators of child sexual abuse should attend to the temporal framework of PTSD symptoms, thereby distinguishing between abuse-related PTSD symptoms due to a sexual abuse trauma (usually present, to varying degrees, during and immediately following the discontinuation of the abuse) and investigatory-related PTSD that does not appear until after the disclosure and interrogation. Other investigatory-related PTSD-like symptoms, such as repetitive play in a therapist's office, may be a product of the repetitive nature of the therapy sessions rather than a pathological acting out of a traumatic event (Fisher, 1995)."
  685. Against that background, it seems to me, Dr Hewitt's resort to Zero to Three has to be approached with caution. I did not understand her to disagree. As Miss Page pointed out, at an early stage in cross-examination, that document in itself quite expressly makes clear that it is not intended to be used in the context of any legal application. She accepted this, although she agreed that with the benefit of hindsight it would have been better to make that clear in the body of her report. She emphasised that she was not using the criteria in a standardised way, but merely as an aid to assisting the court in these very unusual circumstances. She explained how she came to use it shortly before her report was due for delivery in the middle of December:
  686. "I was trying, as I said earlier, to look at this data through the framework that I used to analyse the cases or to organise the cases that come to my practice – the prior history, 'rule out' factors, objective measures – and somewhere, about a week and a half before my report was due, I was feeling very crazy because none of the data … I could not manage it, there was no way I could get it into conceptual framework that made sense to me and then suddenly I realised I could not stay with the framework – as it was not working and I did not know where to go. Based on what I had read and the cluster of symptoms which I was concerned about, it felt to me that the best framework was going to be some measure of traumatic stress behaviours that are seen with children that comes out of a reliable source. Now, I went to the conference at Zero to Three when the sequelae to some earlier research were discussed and ended up being in this version of the manual with the traumatic stress disorder and I thought, I bet if I look at this data, organised around traumatic stress factors and central behaviour factors, it may make some sense, and in fact that is what I did. Suddenly, that lens organised the data for me. It is from looking at that, I could then reach the conclusions that the combination of traumatic stress behaviours, coupled with the atypical and unusual level of sexual behaviours would come together to say there has been a traumatic history for this child".
  687. Shortly afterwards, Dr Hewitt emphasised the special use she was making of these criteria:
  688. "If I am not to make a diagnosis, then I am not using this in that sense to frame a diagnosis, I am using it in combination with factors. I am using this cluster of behaviours which ends up being at a level which is significant. It is across the various types of behaviour that children can exhibit and across a number of sub-categories".
  689. She was very clear that the manual was intended for assisting the diagnosis in individual cases – not to have application in the present circumstances for what she called "a review of group data". It follows that I must look at the available data for each child separately and weigh any of the behavioural symptoms in the individual context (remembering that there is no cluster of symptoms diagnostic of sexual abuse).
  690. Miss Page took Dr Hewitt through her conclusions relating to a number of individual children (which looked remarkably like diagnoses of sexual abuse). There is no need for me to reflect them in detail in this judgment, but she focused particularly on Children 1, 2, 11, 14, 21 and 24. She demonstrated in doing so that (despite her terms of reference, however artificial) Dr Hewitt had in fact taken into account matters other than behaviour.
  691. She purported on a number of occasions also to take into account statements, but without having seen the videos, up to that time, or without having the full context of the statements before her. Miss Page suggested that Dr Hewitt had indeed made a "leap too far" and, what is more, that she had displayed bias in her methodology. This may have been partly a factor of her limited information, and I am sure it was unconscious. Nevertheless, Miss Page was clearly right about this. There were a number of examples, but perhaps the most striking was Dr Hewitt's classification of vulval soreness as an "unusual sexual behavior" with reference to Child 2. It was also curious that this should have been so readily accepted as a pointer to Red Room abuse since Dr Hewitt herself listed the symptoms before as well as during the Red Room period. When pressed, Dr Hewitt agreed that her report was "misleading" at least in this respect. No doubt all the experts are very busy people, but by December 2001 when the reports of Dr Friedrich and Dr Hewitt were prepared it must have been apparent how grave the allegations were that the Review Team had chosen to make. Sloppiness of this kind is not good enough.
  692. Dr Hewitt explained that her very strong conclusion in respect of Child 2 (that she had suffered trauma while in the Red Room) had been reached by combining behaviour with statements. I can readily understand the artificiality of separating out behaviour and statements. I noted the same problem with Professor Friedrich, who was supposed to be concentrating on verbal disclosures but decided to refer to behaviour in addition (for reasons I have explained). Nevertheless, it was a fair point for Miss Page to make that Dr Hewitt did not make clear when and to what extent she had departed from her specifically behavioural brief. Miss Page pointed out to her that the picture she had been given was somewhat incomplete since the mother of Child 2 had in May 1993 described her as "loving" the Nursery at the material time (i.e. prior to July 1992).
  693. One of the more surprising claims of Dr Hewitt was that the court could rule out cross-contamination as a factor in respect of certain children (including Child 2). Miss Page suggested this as an indicator of bias, but more importantly it was a matter outside Dr Hewitt's expertise and she lacked a good deal of relevant information now before this court. In any case, although she tried to explain how she had ruled out cross-contamination (on the morning of 19 April), I found this part of her evidence difficult to follow.
  694. Once again, I shall have to address the opinions expressed by these two experts on child behaviour, in relation to the individual children, when I come to assess the evidence relied on for the purposes of justification.
  695. 8) The evidence of multiple abuse

    General Introduction
  696. I shall now turn to consider the evidence relied upon by those Defendants pleading justification to support the primary allegations of rape and indecent assault, child by child, as well as the secondary (but obviously grave) allegations of involvement in a paedophile ring and the supply of pornography.
  697. Ms Judith Jones made the point in her evidence (probably regarded in some quarters as controversial, and certainly of some sensitivity) that, since this was primarily a social services nursery, one would expect a significant proportion of the children to be suffering from some form of abuse simply on the basis of ordinary experience. She would also have expected to find some of them on the child protection register. What surprised her in the present case was how few, relatively, were so registered. It is clearly necessary to factor in this evidence to the exercise of weighing what is or is not inherently unlikely, in the context of applying the principles discussed by Lord Nicholls in Re H (cited at paragraph 358 above).
  698. As I have noted elsewhere (paragraph 481), Dr Cameron made the very telling point that, over a large cohort of supposedly abused children, it would be quite astonishing if threats by abusers could be so effective as to prevent any single child from making a contemporaneous complaint. One of the factors mentioned by Holland J in July 1994 was that none of the indictment children (subject to one possible minor qualification) had made such a complaint. Given that the Review Team have now airily accused Mr Lillie and Miss Reed of abuse on such a massive scale, the absence of contemporaneous complaints has become a major factor. It is true that the Review Team brushed it aside, on the basis of speculation, but I cannot take such an approach. Such a widespread and deafening silence prior to April 1993 could be explained on the basis that Mr Lillie and Miss Reed had so skilfully terrified dozens of children that they were unwilling to disclose ongoing abuse to parents/carers, but Dr Cameron thinks it highly unlikely. So do I. The relevance of the point is that I propose to look carefully at each and every case to seek some solid evidence of threats by Mr Lillie and/or Miss Reed that might account for the child's silence.
  699. Miss Page sought to introduce similar evidence given by Professor Bruck in a supplementary report served in June 2002. Her focus was not so much upon threats to child victims but rather to the ability of children, in general, to "keep secrets". She cited a number of studies, from which I believe it is fair to say that the general import is that a significantly high proportion of children appear to be unable to comply with requests not to reveal matters which they have been asked to keep secret and, what is more, that the proportion would appear to increase inversely to age.
  700. Professor Bruck suggested in the light of the papers she cited (and indeed some others which were not available for production) that the data indicate that at least 50% or more of children under the age of five will tell a secret even if asked not to by their mother or a familiar adult.
  701. It is unnecessary to rehearse the underlying materials in any detail, but one study might have appeared to be of particular interest which focused particularly upon children aged three to five. They witnessed "a male confederate" break a particular glass. He instructed the children not to tell anything about the incident. Some of the children were offered a reward not to tell; some were told "sternly" not to reveal the information; others were told it would be "fun not to tell". Most of the children who were simply instructed not to tell revealed the secret in due course (86% of three year olds and 57% of five year olds). Those who were instructed not to tell "sternly" appeared more reluctant to reveal the information, but the pattern was similar (64% of three year olds and 50% of five year olds).
  702. Another factor which emerged from research by Douglas Peters and colleagues was that there is a tendency to keep a secret only for so long as the "transgressor" is present (see Jeopardy in the Courtroom, Ceci and Bruck, 1995, p.145). Another trend revealed by research (Thompson, Clarke-Stewart and Lepore, 1997, What did the Janitor do?) is that, perhaps not surprisingly, there is a greater initial reluctance to reveal such information when questioned in a neutral manner (e.g. "What happened?"). Leading questions, of one sort or another, are more likely to reveal "a secret" without delay. Even, however, neutral interviewing, if pressed further, appeared to lead to revelation.
  703. Shortly after I received this supplementary report, Mr Bishop responded and it became clear that he did not accept that what Professor Bruck was saying amounted to a fair representation of the current state of research. It would not be right for me to take these matters into account without Mr Bishop having an opportunity to cross-examine or call evidence in rebuttal.
  704. I naturally appreciate, in any event, that these experiments have to be approached with caution. Not only are they inherently artificial, but the factual circumstances are very far removed from the issues with which I am concerned in this case. It would, therefore, clearly be appropriate to approach this information conservatively and to allow a considerable discount when addressing percentages. I propose, therefore, to concentrate on the evidence of Dr Cameron, to which I have already referred, which suggests strongly that the scenario for which the Review Team would contend (upwards of 60 children being cowed or cajoled into silence) is at least as unlikely as untutored common sense would suggest.
  705. A further general point arises from the evidence of Lorraine Kelly. She has been Mr Lillie's partner over the last decade. It is necessary to emphasise that it has never once been suggested, or even hinted in the Review Team's case, that Miss Kelly was implicated in any way in criminal or paedophile activity. She gave evidence about the flat they shared in Red Barns from December 1992. It will be remembered that a constant theme in the pleas of justification advanced on behalf of the Review Team (and until 23 February also by the Newcastle Chronicle) was that children were taken to "Chris's flat" and that abuse took place there. Allegations are variously made that on such occasions people took baths, indulged in sexual intercourse, rape, buggery, oral sex, and also sadistic assaults with knives, forks, spoons and scissors. There was urination, ejaculation and bleeding. Yet not once did Lorraine Kelly come home before, during or after December 1992 and find any signs of disturbance. There were no blood stains, no seminal stains on carpets or bedding, no wet sheets or clothing. There was not so much as a damp towel. There was nothing.
  706. She was cross-examined by Miss Sharp (still participating at that stage for the Chronicle) on the basis that she must surely have found disturbed or damp towels because a friend of hers came sometimes to exercise and feed the dog – and he surely must have washed his hands from time to time. It did not seem to strike any particular chord with Miss Kelly. But even if he did wash his hands, that would hardly advance the case Miss Sharp was then putting forward of regular orgies and sadism.
  707. Naturally, Miss Kelly's evidence would not trouble the Review Team. Ms Jones, for example, took the line that if a child refers to "Chris's house" that may not actually mean Chris's home at all. It might simply be a reference to Mr Lillie's domain in the Nursery. If this reasoning is taken to its logical conclusion, it might well apply to every reference made to "Chris's house". Therefore, presumably, one should take every such allegation with a pinch of salt. Moreover, if it is reasonable for me to treat one or more of the "disclosures" about Chris's house as truly relating to the Nursery, one has to address the alternative scenario that the orgiastic behaviour alleged took place in the Nursery without parents or other members of staff spotting anything amiss. The Jason Dabbs case affords no precedent for anything remotely like that.
  708. As Detective Constable Helen Foster confirmed, in evidence on 22 May, the immediate neighbour at Red Barns had been shocked when she found out about the allegations because she had heard and seen nothing suspicious. It is hardly realistic to suppose that if children and/or paedophiles were trooping in and out of Miss Kelly's flat she would have remained oblivious. The police were given this important piece of evidence but it seems to have been accorded no significance. Nowadays, Miss Foster acknowledged, a statement would have been taken from the neighbour.
  709. Of course, one could overcome these difficulties if one transfers all these abusive trips to an unspecified flat (perhaps with a lift) or a house (perhaps with a black door or a red door) in some other location within push-chair distance of the Nursery. That is a very attractive option to the Defendants because not only is it difficult to prove a negative but virtually impossible to destroy a chimaera. The problem I face is that this would be purely speculative. It is not simply that there is no corroboration for such allegations (although that is certainly true). In the present context, I am postulating (at Ms Jones' invitation) that one rejects all references to "Chris's house" as being inaccurate. I am therefore not concerned with corroborating a child's account at all (since it is ex hypothesi wrong). I am not prepared to conjure up such flats or houses, to serve as imaginary substitutes for "Chris's house", out of thin air. There is simply no solid evidence. There are some statements attributed to children which I shall have to consider in individual cases, as I come to them, but they all have to be assessed according to the circumstances of each particular case – including Ms Jones' warning that they are not necessarily to be taken literally.
  710. One of the general propositions to which great significance was at one time attached by the Defendants was that Mr Lillie and Miss Reed were supposed to have an exceptionally high ratio of recorded accidents as compared to other staff. The theory was that they were recording bogus accidents to cover abuse. What was said at page 244 of the Report was:
  711. "There appears to be the possibility that Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed abused children and covered their activities by recording fictional accidents to disguise either physical signs of abuse or distress caused by the abuse".
  712. This fell apart as soon as it was examined. Not only was there no correlation between the "accidents" and reported examples of abuse, but the Defendants were not even comparing like with like. The statistics they produced made no allowance for the fact that some of the comparator staff had only been in the Nursery for a relatively brief period, or that others were responsible for less vulnerable age groups, or even primarily for administrative duties rather than the direct care of children. It was utterly spurious. No more was heard of it (apart from a brief mention in closing submissions). Yet it was used both in the Report and in the Defendants' case on justification. In court, one could see the inadequacy of the allegation and discount it. Unfortunately, however, the readers of the Report were not in a position to see through the Review Team's "statistics" because, as in other instances, the reasoning is not set out for readers to make their own assessment. They were supposed to take it all on trust. They were presented with a picture of careful, planned and long-term manipulation of records to disguise paedophile activity. This would naturally carry conviction, on a superficial level, because paedophiles are widely perceived as cunning and manipulative. Ironically, of course, it does not tie in with Mr Dervin's sceptical assessment of the two Claimants as being "among the most disorganised and chaotic abusers in the history of child care".
  713. There is another aspect of the regime at Shieldfield at the material time that needs to be borne in mind when assessing opportunities for abuse and the likelihood, or otherwise, of its having occurred. I am prepared to accept that there were legitimate matters for criticism and that later the Newcastle City Council attempted to make radical improvements. In particular, so far as the present Claimants are concerned, there was a lack of accurate record-keeping as to when and with whom children left the Nursery premises. As one parent pointed out, had there been a serious fire on the premises, it would not have been easy to pin down at any given period who was supposed to be on the premises and who had gone out (for whatever reason). Several parents spoke of having come to collect a child and finding that he or she was not there and of having to wait for staff to bring them back. Moreover, on some such occasions, no one on the premises (including managerial staff) was able to say where they had gone or when they were due back. That was obviously not satisfactory, to say the least. Not surprisingly, much has been made of this by the Defendants in suggesting that such occasions provided opportunities for abuse outside the premises.
  714. Another aspect of the "chaotic" administrative arrangements often referred to was the problem of clothes being muddled up. Children sometimes wore different clothes when collected from those worn were delivered at the Nursery that day. On occasions, these were ill fitting and uncomfortable. No one disputed that there were sometimes "accidents", requiring a change of garments, or that children's clothes were sometimes wet from playing with water, or dirty from playing inside or outside, or from food being dropped over them. The criticism was that there seemed to be no system, and everything was done on a "hit or miss" footing. Again, this is relied upon as affording opportunities to cover up abuse. Although never quite spelt out, I understand Mr Bishop's point to be that evidence of abuse, such as bleeding or seminal staining, could be removed and substitute clothing provided. On the other hand, I believe that these "chaotic" elements of the Shieldfield regime were what Mr Dervin had in mind when he expressed scepticism (as I find that he did) in his letter of 22 January; in other words, I believe he was expressing doubt whether any cunning and manipulative paedophile would ever be so "chaotic" about covering tracks. One of the more bizarre allegations is that a small boy was delivered in the morning wearing his new football strip and came home in a pink dress and cardigan. Neither Claimant would accept this was possible. They certainly knew nothing of it. On the other hand, it is not the sort of thing a mother would forget. If it did happen, however, it hardly has the stamp of a manipulative paedophile trying to cover his/her tracks.
  715. In the light of the allegations of widespread abuse outside the Nursery premises, in unspecified flats or houses, it is necessary to have in mind some background context as to the typical daily regime at Shieldfield during the relevant period.
  716. I quite appreciate that, as the Review Team have emphasised, it is rarely possible from contemporaneous records to identify when children were taken out of the nursery, where they were taken, or how many children went at any one time. It is fair to say that record-keeping was, to say the least, sketchy. Nonetheless, I have received evidence from Mr Lillie and Miss Reed about the general pattern of daily routines and activities which was, at least in general terms, not the subject of challenge.
  717. There was in operation a shift system, with nursery officers tending to alternate the shifts between themselves from day to day. Accordingly, Mr Lillie would be on early shift (beginning at 8.00 a.m.) one day, whereas Miss Reed would take that slot the next. I was told that the manager and assistant manager also alternated their shifts in a similar manner.
  718. The building was normally opened at 8.00 a.m. Those present at that time would be the early shift nursery officers, the cleaners, the cook and one of the managers. Those children who arrived early would all be ushered into one room. The other staff and the majority of children would arrive at about 9.00 a.m. At that stage, the children were moved to their individual rooms. The next event was a trolley round bringing milk and biscuits for everyone at about 9.30 a.m. It was quite usual for some parents to stay on the premises and chat rather than leaving immediately after the child was delivered.
  719. It was expected that the individual rooms would be set up for the day's activities by about 9.30 a.m., so as to be ready for 10.00 a.m., by which time it was anticipated that all those arriving for the morning session would be in place.
  720. When Mr Lillie and Miss Reed were in the Red Room (i.e. from approximately the end of February 1992 until April/May 1993), it was generally the case that they would be joined once or twice a week by a home care worker. Such persons were employed by the Social Services Department for the specific purpose of looking after a child if the parent/carer needed a rest for some reason. (It so happened that one of the home carers was also called Dawn. Her only potential relevance to the case is (a) that it is conceivable that some children when referring to "Dawn" might have had her in mind rather than Dawn Reed, and (b) that on a trip to Whitley Bay on 10 February 1993 she accompanied Mr Lillie and Miss Reed.)
  721. It was generally the case that the "morning session" lasted from 8.00 a.m. until 11.30 a.m. The lunch period seems to have taken up a significant part of the day. By about 11.15 a.m., the children were being encouraged to tidy up in readiness. It was necessary for them to wash their hands and clean up for lunch, while tables were laid. During this period, also, there would be some movement between the rooms while staff were replacing borrowed toys.
  722. Lunch normally began at about 11.30 a.m. Some children ate faster than others, and regularly the meal went on for over an hour. Sometimes members of staff would add 15 minutes on to their lunch break if they had been unable to take their scheduled break during the morning period.
  723. From about 12.30 p.m., the children would be tidying up after lunch and having nappies changed where necessary. Some would at that stage have a nap. Also, the parents of those children who were attending the morning session only would begin to come along to collect them.
  724. At around this time, the member of staff who had come on for the early 8.00 a.m. shift would generally take a break while other members of staff supervised the children. The second member of staff (i.e. the one who had not been on early shift) would take a slightly later lunch break at around 1.00 p.m.
  725. At this halfway stage, it was also necessary to set up the activities for the afternoon session. In most cases, this was shorter than the morning session. It would generally last until about 3.00 p.m. At that time, or shortly afterwards, the bus would arrive to pick up those children placed at the Nursery by Social Services (if parents were unable to collect). The children, therefore, began to thin out at this point and, if there were not many children left in the Nursery after 3.30 p.m., then the number of rooms in use would be reduced.
  726. Another regular practice at the time was that there was a rota for cleaning rooms. This meant that each room would be vacated once a week between around 3.30 and 4.00 p.m. for a thorough cleaning. Meanwhile, the other rooms would have floors only cleaned.
  727. For those children still remaining at the Nursery at 4.00 p.m., tea would then be served. By that stage, only the staff on late shift would still be in attendance. Members of staff from the early shift would leave the premises or stay on to write up their books.
  728. Those members of staff on late shift (i.e. up to 6.00 p.m.) might leave early if there were only a few children remaining at the Nursery. There would always be a manager present until it closed at 6.00 p.m.
  729. In this context, Mr Lillie pointed out that the bald statement on page 236 of the Review Team Report, to the effect that he was alone with children in the early mornings and late afternoons, gave a misleading impression. He made clear, first, that he worked alternate shifts and, secondly, that there would generally also be a student or home carer present as well. At the beginning of the day, those members of staff from the other rooms who happened to be doing the early shift would also congregate with the children arriving early. It would, therefore, be exceptional for him to be the only member of staff present between 8.00 a.m. and 9.00 a.m. Moreover, one of the cleaners ("Jackie") would usually be there at 8.00 a.m. as well.
  730. It will thus be appreciated that within this broad structure the opportunities for lengthy trips out of the nursery were necessarily restricted. I was told by Miss Reed that she and Mr Lillie were keen to take the children out whenever possible for fresh air and exercise and to provide a more interesting environment. Naturally, however, such activities were limited by a number of factors. Obviously the weather played a part. Also, it was obligatory to have a certain ratio of staff to children. It was necessary to have a group of less than eight children. One of them had to be able to take the hand of each child who was walking, but if there was a child in a buggy then it would be possible for them to take three children each (i.e. a maximum of six). They would only be able to go out with more than six children if there was an additional adult (for example, a student or careworker).
  731. During the relevant period, there were building works going on upstairs and use of the garden was therefore restricted. There were no opportunities, therefore, for outdoor play on the premises. Trips out of the Nursery were more frequent in the afternoon than in the morning and, generally, it was necessary to be back in time for 3.00 p.m. when the Social Services bus arrived. I was also told that normally the time for going out would be between 1.30 and 2.00 p.m. I was told by witnesses (for example, the parents of Child 1, Child 7, Child 10 and Child 14) that there were occasions when Mr Lillie and Miss Reed were not back in time for the Social Services bus and that, on occasion, a parent might have to wait for half an hour longer than expected. I have no reason to disbelieve this evidence.
  732. Miss Reed took particular offence at the assertion made by the Review Team in their Report (page iii) that "children were frequently and inappropriately taken out of the Nursery by Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed on the flimsiest of pretexts". The implication seems to be that they were taken out frequently for purposes of child abuse. This is one of the central allegations in the defence of justification, and I shall return to it in due course. It is necessary, however, to bear in mind just how circumscribed the opportunities were for trips out of the Nursery and that, in the periods available (i.e. normally a maximum of one and half hours), it would be necessary to transport the children back and forth from the Nursery – quite apart from any time spent at the relevant destination.
  733. In this context, I should record that in February I acceded to the request of the parties that I should go to Newcastle and visit the Nursery (which has undergone significant physical changes since the material time) and also to walk over the various routes that were considered significant. Not least, I was taken to various roads and blocks of flats where it was suggested that abuse might have taken place. I therefore have the geography of the locations very much in mind.
  734. The evidence of Dr Camille San Lazaro

  735. Dr Camille San Lazaro gave evidence on 13, 14 and 16 May. She was in a somewhat ambivalent position since, although she is a consultant paediatrician at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, and a senior lecturer in paediatric forensic medicine at the Newcastle University, she was not for the purposes of these proceedings an expert witness, but rather a witness of fact. Nevertheless, her findings in respect of many of the children formed a significant part of the Defendants' case on justification, as they did in the ill fated criminal proceedings in 1994. They are relied upon, together with certain oral statements made in her presence, as part of the factual material from which I am invited to draw an inference that Mr Lillie and/or Miss Reed abused the children in one way or another. She personally examined no less that 53 children from Shieldfield looking for signs of sexual or other abuse.
  736. Dr San Lazaro has practised in the field of paediatrics for about 30 years, and has specialised in alleged child abuse or neglect since about 1980. Those were the very early days in the recognition and diagnosis of widespread child abuse and experience was gathered somewhat "on the hoof". Until relatively recently, and particularly before the routine use of colposcopy, practitioners in this field sometimes felt isolated and under pressure. It seems also to have been the case that there were few opportunities for training, peer review or the auditing of individually developed practices.
  737. She produced reports or records of examinations carried out in relation to the children and also documents described as "child protection records". Many of these were made available along with her original witness statement and other materials were produced later along with a supplemental witness statement. The purpose of this was mainly to clarify some of the terminology which she had used in her records and also to meet some of the points made about her evidence by Dr Watkeys. I shall consider the impact of her various assessments when I come to the individual children; and I shall confine myself at this stage to general matters.
  738. Dr San Lazaro immediately recognised in the witness box that her approach would be quite different nowadays. She said that "we" are less isolated and that paediatricians are more ready to consult others on issues of child abuse. She recognised also that there were points during the Shieldfield inquiry where she "lost her way". There were things written then which she would not write today. There were also inaccuracies in what she had written. Indeed, on 14 May she admitted in cross-examination that her records were in some cases inconsistent and difficult to interpret. As to Child 14, so fundamentally significant in this case, the following exchanges took place:
  739. "Miss Page: I am suggesting the whole picture is so unreliable and so flawed that the court could not safely conclude that this child had signs of penetrative injury at all?
    Dr San Lazaro: I accept that this – that the medical findings as laid out in this child's records cannot be relied on in their specificity, specifically. But I believe that all the information put together is clear on the fact that there was penetrative damage to the hymen and I quite accept that that is a difficult matter for this court".
  740. This was not easy to follow. A finding of penetrative damage in a hymen is "specific". Unlike cases where the physical findings are neutral, it is not a question of "all the information put together". One ought to be able to rely on a paediatrician to give a clear factual assessment of whether there is diagnostic evidence of abuse or not. If I cannot rely on her medical findings "specifically", I am not clear what is left.
  741. A little later she was asked about the particular inconsistencies in her descriptions:
  742. "Miss Page: Why did you not take the opportunity to clarify and write down in your notes whether you had one or two complete transections or no complete transections, partial tearing, how many partial tears? Is it not extraordinary, bearing in mind that you were going to go into court as a prosecution witness on a charge of rape, that you should have the opportunity, with this child under anaesthetic, [and yet] you did not make any note of what you observed in those conditions?
    Dr San Lazaro: It is regrettable. The whole of this is regrettable and I do not know why it was not done.
    Miss Page: It was a professional lapse not to have done it, was it not?
    Dr San Lazaro: All of this is a substantial professional lapse, I would have said."
  743. It is to some extent a question of trying to assess through written records what the witness found eight or nine years ago with the benefit of hindsight. In some cases, the surviving information is so defective that it is just not possible. Unfortunately, things are not quite that simple. However ready Dr San Lazaro may be now to recognise her human frailties, and the improved techniques available today for dealing with such cases, there are certain facts that cannot be obscured. The truth is that Dr San Lazaro's professional judgment and objectivity were in some of these cases hopelessly compromised. In particular, I can hardly sweep under the carpet the untrue accounts she was giving to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board with a view to assisting some of the parents recover compensation out of public funds. She herself recognises that there were "inaccuracies". She could hardly do otherwise. I am afraid, however, that the problem is more fundamental and goes to professional integrity rather than competence.
  744. To take but one example, Miss Page drew to her attention a passage in her so-called "generic report", which was produced to provide the Board with a general summary (but presumably a fair and accurate one) of the supposed multiple abuse at Shieldfield. She apparently did it "from memory", which would be hardly satisfactory in itself. More importantly, however, I need to consider the terms in which she referred to the streptococcal infection found among a few children. She included it in the generic report in a very short section supposed to be identifying physical signs relevant to the issue of child abuse. It had no place there at all. Such infections are quite common and the presence of the infection was not probative of child abuse. Indeed, it could easily be due to poor hygiene. Yet she deliberately gave the impression that it was significant. It was given a prominence in the overall picture of Shieldfield that was wholly disproportionate. This was reflected in the Review Team's Report also, where it was said, "Dr Lazaro describes this as an unusual finding which suggested a common source". Its only relevance in the Report would be to give the impression that it was evidence of some sinister (but unspoken) form of child abuse.
  745. She spoke of "negotiating" the content of this report with a man from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, but she accepted responsibility for its contents. She actually admitted to Miss Page that she had adopted the role of "advocate" for the children's compensation claims – and this inevitably seriously compromised her professional independence and integrity. Many thousands of pounds of public money were paid out at least in part as a result of her assertions.
  746. More generally, on 16 May, Dr San Lazaro made the following startling admissions:
  747. "Dr San Lazaro: I think I did advocate for these children. I think there was – I was certainly very distressed for them and affected by their trauma, and I accept that I attempted … to do my best for them, or to present the best case for them. I do not think that is unusual practice for doctors in any situation.
    Miss Page: The usual practice for a doctor is to simply send to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board their original report on the child and not to elaborate save to the extent that they are asked to do so.
    Dr San Lazaro: In children who have been sexually abused, and I have been doing Criminal Injuries Reports for a very long time, I recognise that they have been emotive and they have been exaggerated and overstated in the past … and they are much more measured now".
    I cannot believe, as she appeared to suggest, that it would be "not unusual" for doctors generally to behave in this way with regard to their representations to the C.I.C.B.
  748. She accepted specifically in relation to Shieldfield that her presentation to the Board was exaggerated and overstated in the "generic report" (in other words, the report applying to all the children claiming compensation). That is indefensible.
  749. It is ironic, in the light of this very serious state of affairs, to recall what Mrs Saradjian had to say about Dr San Lazaro on 20 February:
  750. "As a result of seeing Dr Lazaro I was impressed by her professionalism. I was also impressed by the information that she had to give about the large number of children that she had interviewed and examined that had medical findings of abuse, and also the level of trauma that she had witnessed and heard from these children.
    I was also impressed by her impression of the parents, in that she did not feel that they were exaggerating the situation with the children. I was also impressed by her analysis of the situation, as she saw it, from her point of view as a very experienced forensic paediatrician".
    The Review Team clearly fell under her spell.
  751. Dr San Lazaro's admissions are not only serious in themselves, but they have profound implications for the evidence in this case. It is not simply that there are numerous examples of poor record-keeping and inconsistent entries, which make it difficult to be satisfied what Dr San Lazaro actually perceived at the time of her examinations. Everyone agrees that hymenal examinations in small children are difficult, such that even the average paediatric registrar would not be equipped to carry out or interpret them. Therefore a good deal of subjective interpretation is involved for a consultant in arriving at the basic data before they come to be recorded.
  752. Even where it is possible to identify what her original conclusion was, the question arises as to how safe it is to rely on Dr San Lazaro's interpretation of what lay before her. Since she was so committed to what she perceived to be the children's best interests and was "affected by their trauma", and because she was apparently prepared habitually to overstate and exaggerate, I must approach her unaudited personal conclusions with the utmost caution. It is as clear as can be that I must not proceed on an assumption of objectivity or truthfulness. On the other hand, I cannot simply dismiss everything she claims to have found. I do not believe she was setting out mischievously to misrepresent everything. It is rather that she was unbalanced, obsessive and lacking in judgment. I have thus to chart my way through a very treacherous terrain. In doing so, I have been greatly indebted to Dr Ward and Dr Watkeys, of whose experience and integrity there can be no doubt.
  753. Dr San Lazaro even went so far in May 1996 as to tell the Review Team: "I believe that children were removed from the nursery for reasons either of specific paedophile activity or to be used in possible commercial paedophilia or both".
  754. She also told the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board in her generic report "there were syringes with medicines inside to make their bottoms feel all right". She was only regurgitating her interpretation of what some children had said, but appeared to be endorsing the allegation with her professional authority. As far as I understand her own view of the matter, she said she believed that they were objects used as part of a deception rather than actually to inject the children with drugs or medication. She added, "I still think I have that view". It is not easy to reconcile these statements. Either she believed that syringes were used to drug the children or she believed that they were part of a deception. Of course, either way she was merely speculating, but she does not seem even to have passed on her true belief.
  755. The overall picture she conveyed to the C.I.C.B was that the abuse had been "bizarre… almost certainly involving instrumentation, drugs and pornography". It was put to her by Miss Page that she had no proper basis to make such claims. Her answer was that she believed the children had placed inside them "items of cutlery - objects". Miss Page was obviously right.
  756. There can be little doubt that, because of the weight the Review Team appeared to be willing to give to people's opinions, Dr San Lazaro must have given them considerable encouragement in respect of their conclusions about the administration of drugs and the use of pornography. It is a good illustration of why it is necessary always to keep in mind the distinction between evidence, on the one hand, and imaginings on the other.
  757. It is important to note that Dr San Lazaro also supplied dubious information relating to individual child applicants. I cite an example below in relation to Child 1. The same pattern is to be found replicated in other cases. It is clear to me that it was not only in the generic report that Dr San Lazaro was saying things that were untrue. Some of the individual reports are flawed. What is deeply disturbing is her tendency, when writing a witness statement or letter to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, to "beef up" her basic findings by adding a sinister slant to what had been recorded originally as a neutral or non-specific finding.
  758. Child 1

  759. This child was born on 28 March 1990 and attended the Nursery from 1 October 1992 to July 1993 (usually 2 days per week). Until their suspensions, he was in the care of Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed. He is the one child Mr Lillie admitted to taking briefly into his flat at Red Barns – something which he has no doubt bitterly regretted for the last nine years. He explained that he was a child who needed individual attention most mornings to settle him down. On this particular morning, he took him out of the nursery for a walk because he was on his way to the flat to collect something he had forgotten. Miss Reed confirmed that the child was difficult in the mornings and needed individual attention to settle him.
  760. No professional person has ever heard Child 1 make any accusation against Christopher Lillie or Dawn Reed. No criminal proceedings were ever instigated. The "disclosures" seem to have been largely through the mother. The Review Team were warned by Detective Inspector Findlay that the Child's mother had suffered mental health problems, and also that she appeared to be obsessed with the allegations of abuse at Shieldfield and "determined to get in on it". Mr Wardell said, on the other hand, that they did not accept this assessment as being accurate, and he thought the mother was "sincere". He clearly attached weight to her evidence as to the behaviours and disclosures of Child 1. It was a fundamental tenet of the Review Team's approach to accept, unquestioningly, what complainants said on the basis that they believed what they were saying (or were "sincere"). They seem to draw no distinction between that which is sincerely believed and objective truth. What was perceived as sincerely believed was accepted as having happened.
  761. I cannot speak, of course, as to her demeanour nine years ago when it is quite clear that police officers had reservations about her, but the impression I formed on 23 April 2002 when she gave her evidence was a favourable one. She was the most visibly distressed of the mothers to give evidence and had to pause from time to time because she found it so upsetting. There is no doubt that this mother was in 1992-1993 having to endure real stresses and strains in her life. She was divorcing her husband who, she said, only occasionally turned up when he felt like it and was behaving unpredictably because of a drug problem. She started a new relationship with an old friend by whom she became pregnant in the Spring of 1992 and who moved in with her in that July. But by December he was telling her that he wanted to bring the relationship to an end. She had the baby on 12 February 1993 but shortly thereafter she had to worry about the Shieldfield "scandal". This took its toll finally on her relationship with the new partner. From the records, it appears that she had to cope with episodes of violence during this period involving each of the two men. It is easy to understand what an unhappy time this must have been for her.
  762. When she was first seen by social workers on 12 May 1993, she said that Child 1 got on well with Chris and often talked about him, asking where his house was. It is important not to lose sight of this in the light of later developments. Her account changed, however, after contact from other mothers. In particular, she was given information by the mothers of Child 22, Child 23 and Child 12. Child 22 had apparently referred to Child 1 in the course of his own disclosures.
  763. She came into contact with two pivotal figures in this case who clearly had a significant influence upon her, namely Dr San Lazaro and the mother of Child 22. The latter came to see her on 26 June. Later that day when she was reporting her conversation to her partner in front of the boy, Child 1 kept putting his hand over her mouth. What significance this was supposed to have remains unclear, but more importantly a fresh observation (recorded by social workers) was made the following day.
  764. It will be remembered that one of the matters to which Professor Friedrich attached particular significance was what he chose to call the "proffering of the bottom". I have already discussed that in the context of his expert evidence, but for present purposes it is important to note when this was first recorded. It appears on a note made by Kulvinder Chohan on 7 July 1993 referring back to an incident reported to her as having happened at 8.20 am on 27 June – in other words, the morning after the mother of Child 22 had been round to her home spreading alarm and despondency.
  765. The boy was lying on his bed "with his bottom in the air". His mother at that stage, according to the note, said that he should lie down "properly", to which he replied that this was the way to be nice. According to the mother, he lay in that position on more than one occasion and, indeed, still does so from time to time. I am supposed to infer that he was taught to do this by Mr Lillie to facilitate buggery or other anal abuse. Mr Bishop seemed to suggest that this was the only reasonable interpretation. I cannot agree. I am not prepared to dismiss as coincidence the fact that it was first observed the very morning after she had to listen to the mother of Child 22 cataloguing her concerns about her own son. The mother of Child 22 can, when in full flow, be a dominating and disquieting presence. It seems to me quite likely that she alarmed her and led her to misinterpret something which was of no consequence.
  766. This was, of course, a month before the police paid the mother of Child 22 a visit to try and stop her spreading alarmist notions, which they perceived as jeopardising the whole investigation. It appeared in Julie Kinghorn's notebook for 30 July that the police had received information that she had been putting words in the mouths of "children of tender years". She could not recollect what the information was or to which children it related. But it shows the need for a cautious approach to interviews with children if they had come into contact with her.
  767. The visit also occurred some six weeks after Detective Inspector Findlay had told her, "No bull shit. I don't want you talking to anyone". She clearly ignored that friendly advice.
  768. The other pivotal figure this child's mother came into contact with was Dr San Lazaro. She apparently gave her regular "support", but Dr San Lazaro appears to have behaved oddly with regard to this child. When he was examined and she found no physical abnormality, she did nothing to put the mother's mind at rest but left her believing that there was reason to think he had been abused. She then arranged for him to be examined under anaesthetic and for swabs to be taken to see if he had a sexually transmitted disease. Of course he did not. Yet again the mother was left to believe the worst. She was given some medication but not told that the child was merely suffering from a streptococcal infection common in infants. I have no doubt that Dr San Lazaro fostered this mother's belief that her son had been abused. As the mother put it in the witness box, "she confirmed my worst fears".
  769. Dr San Lazaro played the psychologist and the detective and seems almost to have forgotten her role as a paediatrician. When she wrote a long letter to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, she set out a whole series of speculative thoughts, but she failed to mention at all the one matter directly within her expertise – namely the negative physical findings. The letter is by no means unique to Child 1, but it is worth setting out in the context of assessing the nature of Dr San Lazaro's role in the development of the Shieldfield "scandal" and the extent to which she was, or was not, capable of professional detachment:
  770. "Thank you for your enquiry about this child. I can confirm that I saw him on 7.7.93. [Child 1] had been in the Shieldfield Nursery for 9 months.
    At first he seemed happy there and his mother was gradually able to leave him alone. Within 2-3 weeks, however, [Child 1] became extremely distressed, screaming and wrapping his legs around his parents, begging them to allow him to go home. Mother remembers that she always tied double knots in [Child 1's] training shoes and that these had never come undone before he had gone to the nursery, or indeed when she had him home. However, he would often return from the nursery with a single knot in his shoes or his laces undone.
    [Child 1] also stopped using the toilet to open his bowels and began to display markedly aggressive behaviour, often looking as if he had been crying when they picked him up from school. There was soiling and periods of marked aggression when he hit his mother, telling her that he hated her and that she didn't love him. He developed odd sexualised posturing and other sexualised behaviour and he appeared very frightened about having his nappy changed.
    There is little doubt that this is one of the most severely affected children from the Shieldfield Nursery. He had gross signs of traumatic behaviour with regression, sudden phobias and anxieties, abrupt changes into infantile speech whenever the nursery was mentioned and he also gave an account to the police of being removed to a caravan site and having his underwear burnt. I understand that the police did indeed recover artifacts which supported this story.
    His mother's relationship broke down after the discovery of abuse and events in the home have been very difficult and fraught. Certainly mother's distress and [Child 1's] own behavioural patterns have been such that I have spoken to her and seen the child on more occasions that I can count. I would suggest that there have been at least 30 contacts with our department since this original event and I also have spent hours late at night talking to the mother to try and help her through her distress.
    This boy is receiving psychotherapy and I believe that it will be some time before he is going to recover from these experiences."
  771. This was a classic example of Dr San Lazaro's role as an "advocate" (to which she admitted in the witness box). Some of the information was simply untrue. The child did not give an account of having his underwear burnt. In any event, most of what she was saying merely regurgitated or garbled what she had been told and had nothing to do with her medical expertise. Nor did she make any attempt to discern any other possible explanation in the troubled domestic background for any of what she was told. Everything was hung on her theory of multiple abuse at Sheildfield. I strongly suspect that the "hours late at night" talking to Dr San Lazaro were not so much "supportive" to this mother as baleful and depressing.
  772. There was a legal dispute at some stage, with Child 1's father seeking an order for contact with him. Dr San Lazaro made a witness statement dated 19 September 1994 in which she asserted that Child 1 "had suffered previously damaging experiences" and that further harm would occur if he had contact with a parent (i.e. his father) who declined to recognise this and was capable of minimising it.
  773. The father was thus apparently being criticised by Dr San Lazaro over a conversation she had had with him in which he appeared sceptical and dismissive. He felt that the mother was harming the child by her persistent focus on sexual abuse. The doctor went so far as to accuse him of being "extreme" and likely to destabilise the mother and child. It is disturbing that someone with such flawed judgment should have such power and influence over people's lives.
  774. The same weekend as the visit by the mother of Child 22, Child 1 was also sick more than once, having woken at 3 a.m. sweating and restless. He said he had a sore tummy. I do not see why this is supposed to have any more significance than any other childhood ailment. I would need to be given cogent expert evidence to persuade me that it should be interpreted as a symptom of child abuse. Why should he not just have had a slight temperature and a tummy upset?
  775. There was a home visit by social workers Kulvinder Chohan and Vanessa Lyon on 9 July 1993. It appears that Dr San Lazaro had upset the mother by this time, telling her that Child 1 had been traumatised and that he froze up every time the Nursery and the "perpetrators" were mentioned. Dr San Lazaro was thus, it would appear, making certain assumptions and passing them on to the mother.
  776. During July 1993 Child 1 was, it is true, indicating that he was to some extent not happy at the Nursery, but this was associated with aggressive conduct by another child who hurt his "bum" and hit him on the head. In so far as Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed were mentioned at this time, it was only in the context of chastising the other child for hitting him. There is no evidence that he was cowed into silence by threats.
  777. Child 1's last day at the Nursery was on 9 July 1993, when he was discharged for non-attendance.
  778. When Child 1 was interviewed on video on 28 July 1993, he had nothing to disclose about Christopher Lillie or Dawn Reed. Persistent attempts were made to get him to say things about them (including by leading questions). Nothing emerged.
  779. Despite this, a second interview took place on 7 February 1994. Again, it produced no evidence of abuse, although it becomes apparent early on that Child 1 was aware that he was supposed to be talking about Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed; it was he who introduced them into the conversation. What he said was that they had hurt Child 95, but he then qualified this by pointing out that, like Pinocchio, his nose was growing longer and longer; this, he explained, was because he had just been telling a lie. The mother told me that he was particularly interested in Pinocchio at that time and made it a habit to say the opposite of what he meant. The difficulty about such a habit, of course, is that one never knows what can be relied upon.
  780. There were a number of unusual behaviours noted about Child 1. For example, there was an unwillingness to let his mother's current partner change his nappy or bathe him. Also, there was an incident of self-harm (arm-scratching) recorded by Miss Reed on 25 February 1993. But Dr Kate Ward drew attention to the fact that there had been significant events in his home life over the relevant period, which could have accounted for at least some of the changes in behaviour. She cited parental separation, the mother's change of partner and a new sibling. Nonetheless, she was of opinion that these factors would be unlikely to account for sexualised behaviour. She was referring, essentially, to the following incidents. Child 1 is reported by his mother to have invited her, in or about December 1992, to kiss his genitals. He was at that stage two and a half years old. Later, in March 1993, aged nearly three, he is said to have touched his grandfather's thighs and referred to a lollipop. It is certainly odd behaviour, but it would be a long leap to infer from this that he had been taught about oral sex by Christopher Lillie or Dawn Reed. The remarks were in no way linked to them.
  781. Child 1 is significant in the context of a passage in the Review Team's Report on page 210:
  782. "The children were able to take parents to and/or describe places to which the parents had no idea their children had ever been. Parents were also surprised at the level of distress and panic some children experienced when they went to these places. Sometimes in the course of a routine journey, a child would suddenly become distressed and identify a place that they said they had been taken to by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed. One child had such a reaction to a house near St. Dominic's."
  783. Child 1 took the police on a roundabout trip ending up at a caravan or mobile home. The matter was referred to in discussions between the Review Team and Detective Inspector Campbell Findlay. The Review Team were prepared to conclude (as they would claim on the balance of probabilities) that Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed had taken him there for sexual abuse, no doubt with other children. It is quite obvious from the discussion with the police officer that he was highly sceptical about this and certainly that he had found nothing to support the contention. Without such corroboration the incident can give rise to nothing more than speculation. It is to be noted that there had been an occasion when the children had been taken to see trains. That is reflected in the mother's evidence on 23 April (at pages 11 and 141). Indeed, according to her, the child himself had "said about standing and watching the trains" by way of explaining why he had been taken by Chris and Dawn to that particular spot. She agreed that there were train lines there (although "you could not even see over the wall").
  784. Detective Inspector Campbell Findlay had found a pair of partially burned underpants there, and there was some suggestion that they might correspond to a pair of red underpants that had gone missing from a pack of three the mother had bought from Adams. She told me that she supplied the other two pairs to the police for identification purposes but it appears that nothing came of it. There is nothing in police records to confirm this and I cannot be confident in the mother's recollection on this point. I have seen records which suggest that the police contacted Adams and obtained from them a pack of red underpants for comparison.
  785. At all events, the mother heard no more. No doubt she would have been informed if a link was established. As so often, the Defendants put these matters forward in evidence without making clear what inference is supposed to be drawn from them. It was not obvious to me why a child abuser would wish to burn underpants rather than seeking to give the impression that everything was normal. It makes no sense. One might reasonably anticipate that the parent of a small child would raise a query as to where they had gone. It is all inconclusive. It is not merely that there is nothing to corroborate an allegation that child abuse took place at these caravans; it is important to bear in mind that the child made no such allegation in the first place. (The mother did report to the police, however, by September 1993 that the child had told her when she took him there that she should not go into one of the caravans because it was a "bad house" and she would get a "sore bum".)
  786. It is worth remembering what Campbell Findlay told the Review Team about the underpants – "… that did not take us anywhere because this place is frequented by drunks, alcoholics … it is used for illicit purposes, that place".
  787. One of the mother's complaints was that having previously been a "good eater" Child 1 began to refuse food after joining the Red Room. What is striking, however, is how regularly the Day Book entries record quite the opposite – that he had a good appetite. I see no reason to believe that these entries were deliberately falsified. As a matter of fact, the mother had a number of criticisms about the record-keeping. She thought that Mr Lillie and Miss Reed had been under-reporting. The particular example she identified several times (see e.g. the transcript at pages 61-62) was that there was nothing from Christmas 1992 onwards about her son's constipation. I have to bear in mind, on the other hand, that it is a normal concomitant of constipation that there is nothing to record.
  788. I am unpersuaded that these records are anything but genuine. They can perhaps be criticised in terms of lack of detail or occasionally compendious entries covering more than one day's visit, but that is wholly different from false entries to disguise child abuse. In particular, I cannot for one moment believe that the "good appetite" entries are there to give a false impression of general well-being in order to put people off the scent of child abuse – nor can I derive any such sinister intent from the absence of any mention of constipation.
  789. On the other hand, if constipation was a problem at the time, it could account for soreness of the bottom and reluctance to have it touched – both of which are factors the mother has mentioned. It could also account for traces of blood apparently found in his underpants in January 1993. It may be significant, on the other hand, that even at that stage the mother's reaction was not to explain it by reference to current constipation, but to say "Anyone would think he had been abused".
  790. Child 2

  791. Child 2 was born on 2 September 1989. She started in the Nursery on 11 November 1991 in the Red Room but Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed did not become her carers until the end of February 1992. She left then to go to the Orange Room the following July.
  792. Child 2 was one of the original indictment children in 1993-1994, although at that stage the allegation consisted of indecent assault only. There was no allegation of rape.
  793. It appears that in September 1992 (i.e. aged just three) she said to her mother and grandmother that "Chris" had touched her in the region of her vagina. I will assume that this referred to Mr Lillie. This in itself, of course, has to be seen in the context that he would have been quite probably responsible, when she was two years old, for taking her to the lavatory. It was this comment by Child 2 that Holland J had in mind in his ruling when he referred to a possible exception to the general absence of contemporaneous complaints. The Defendants place great weight upon this apparently spontaneous comment of the child and submit that it was "heavily probative of sexual abuse by Christopher Lillie in that he inappropriately touched the child on the genitals". Yet, at the time it was made, no significance was attached to it. The mother did not pursue it with her or associate it with impropriety. It only loomed large in the mother's thinking eight months later when she mentioned it to social workers on 19 May 1993 in the context of the Shieldfield suspensions.
  794. It is important to note that the Review Team on page 212 of the Report describe a number of "acts" endured by various children, which they say would be difficult to understand as anything other than sexual, physical and emotional abuse by Chrisopher Lillie and/or Dawn Reed and/or other people. One of the more striking allegations that follows is clearly attributable to Child 2 (it comes from her mother's statement). It consists of an allegation that she was raped on a settee in Christopher Lillie's house. The child has also apparently made "disclosures" of other penetrative injuries at his hands, including the insertion of knives and spoons from the kitchen drawer in his house.
  795. The Review Team thus will clearly be understood as making a finding of rape by Christopher Lillie of Child 2. The fair-minded reader might therefore be not a little surprised if told that she was found by Dr San Lazaro on 13 August 1993 to have normal outer genitalia and an intact hymen. This fact does not emerge from the Report; nor does it seem to have given the Team any pause for thought before endorsing and passing on such a grave allegation to the general public. It is one of the more lurid in that part of the Report (Chapter 13) which is introduced on page 209 by informing the reader that he or she is in for a "very difficult and distressing" read. The Defendants argue that it need not actually have involved penetration at all, but merely a placing of the genitals together. So also it is suggested that the knives and spoon may just have been placed at the entrance of the vagina. It is, of course, possible. The probabilities have to be assessed, however, in the light of her disclosures as a whole (e.g. where the incidents are said to have happened and in whose presence).
  796. I turn to the video interviews. The first interview took place on 22 June 1993. It produced nothing significant. Child 2 was able to recall some of her friends and members of the staff, but made no reference to either Christopher Lillie or Dawn Reed.
  797. After the interviewer had drawn a blank, her mother entered the room and began to question her (not, of course, good practice). At this stage, the furthest she would go would be to say that "Chris" had smacked another child's "bum" on an occasion when Child 2's mother was present. Eventually, she made an allegation that "Chris" had also hit her "bum" as well as taking her bouncy ball off her. Whether she thought this "Chris" was a child is unclear, but she spoke of "the teacher" (Diane Wood) telling Chris off. A good deal of pressure was then exerted both by Vanessa Lyon and the mother. In addition, the mother chastised the child while the social worker was out of the room, telling her she was being very silly and that she would not get any juice if she started "acting like a baby". The child moaned and said her mother was hurting.
  798. It is quite apparent from watching the video recording that by this stage the child has given up completely. She had become floppy and inert. She merely moans and whines. Meanwhile, her mother manhandles her back and forth to no effect.
  799. The Review Team did not all have the opportunity of watching this recording. No doubt, if they had, they would have concluded that the child's behaviour indicated that she had something to disclose and that she was reluctant to do so for fear of retaliation. I can draw no such inference. I saw with my own eyes simply a bored and frustrated three year old.
  800. She was interviewed again on 1 December 1993. It became apparent that she realised she was there in order to tell the interviewer about "silly" things done by Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed. Things did not go well, since she appeared to have no recollection of them as Nursery staff at all. Despite this, she said that she had seen them "in their house"; and that she had been there on more than one occasion by car. She knew it was Chris and Dawn's house because Diane had told her. She claimed that she had been taken there by Patricia, Jackie and Diane (i.e. three members of the Shieldfield staff). Although she claimed to have been taken to "Chris and Dawn's house" in "Diane's car", there is no truth in this. Not only is there no place corresponding to "Chris and Dawn's house", but none of the three named teachers ever took them to any place that could be so described.
  801. Child 2's mother is totally committed to the idea that her daughter was raped and abused by Mr Lillie and Dawn Reed. On 20 March in cross-examination, she was unable to deal at all convincingly with this difficulty about Diane Wood. She therefore resorted, so far as I am aware for the first time, to hinting that it might have been Lorraine Kelly who was participating and her daughter had mistaken her for Diane Wood. It is very sad that she felt driven to make such an allegation in a public court room. I can say, however, without any hesitation that it is quite untrue. It is necessary to recall, also, that Child 2 left their care (i.e. the Red Room) at the end of June 1992. This was six months before Christopher Lillie moved to Red Barns to live with Lorraine Kelly. It was about the time he was just beginning to go out with her. In any event, I have seen both Diane Wood and Lorraine Kelly giving evidence. I do not believe anyone, even a small child, could confuse them in a month of Sundays. Where it is alleged the child was taken remains entirely obscure, but clearly there was no confirmation for the story from any of the three other members of staff. That fundamentally undermines the allegation, obviously, but the Review Team failed to address the point. Even at the stage of closing submissions, the Review Team seemed to think it a sufficient answer to say that "…it should be noted that she does not allege them to have taken part in any abusive act or indeed that either they or the other children that she named as present witnessed the abuse".
  802. The supposed trip described involved a minibus. Apart from the five members of staff, there were about eight other children. Despite all these "witnesses", it is said that on the landing of the house Christopher Lillie raped her and also inserted into her vagina his knife, his gun, his pencil, his spoon, a crayon and his fingers. This is hardly likely to be the product of one child's fevered imagination. It seems more likely that it was an amalgam of stories picked up from other children or parents. It is unclear whether this was a second rape (i.e. additional to that on the settee) or whether it is a different version of one incident. At all events, it simply cannot be true.
  803. The Defendants seek to overcome this by suggesting "the likelihood that some names are supplied simply because the interviewer is asking for more and more names". This raises two concerns. First, it hardly squares with the Review Team's professed conclusion in their Report that children's allegations could not be the result of suggestive questions or other pressure from interviewers. Secondly, if this child was so willing to come up with answers she thought the interviewers wanted to hear, how am I to distil the "core" allegation(s) that are free from such influences?
  804. I need hardly say that I am not suggesting that the child was dishonest. She was aged three and four when being asked to recall events that supposedly took place when she was two years old. It is a classic example of the general problem at Shieldfield following the suspensions in April and May 1993. Anxious staff and parents were asking questions and exerting pressure; frightening stories were doing the rounds among very small children, who were being encouraged to talk about events and concepts the significance of which they could barely understand.
  805. The Review Team point to corroboration in the account, for example, of Child 23 who claimed that she had been present during abuse by the Claimants. Their submission ignores, however, two fundamental points, namely (i) that Child 2 and Child 23 did not overlap in the same room at Shieldfield and (ii) that there is no evidence that Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed took children out of the Nursery from other rooms.
  806. Reliance was also placed on behavioural problems. It was this child who Professor Friedrich cited when giving an example of how difficult it was to attribute behavioural symptoms to child abuse because of the various other factors that could account for them. Indeed, one of the incidents which had clearly stuck in the mother's mind was that on one occasion she had found her daughter looking out across Newcastle from a spot in their garden in the direction of where her father lived. She was expressing apparently some concern about whether he was all right. I am invited to draw the inference that this must have come about because Christopher Lillie had abused her and threatened that, if she told her mother, he would see to it that some harm befell her father. There is a more humdrum explanation, however, since it has to be seen in the context of a father who (according to the mother's evidence) more or less swanned in and out of their lives when he felt like it. Since the child was clearly fond of him, it seems plausible that she would have been upset by unexplained and prolonged absences.
  807. Child 3

  808. Child 3 was born on 28 June 1988. He began with Amanda Caisley and Clare Parrish towards the end of October 1990. He left the Nursery finally on 22 January 1992. This was before Christopher Lillie and Dawn Reed teamed up in the Red Room and they never cared for him directly. Physical findings were non-specific and within normal limits. No oral testimony was given in relation to this child. An unsigned witness statement was served on the Claimants from Child 3's mother. Also a Civil Evidence Act Notice was served in respect of her interview with the Review Team.
  809. On 10 November 1993, nearly two years after his departure from Shieldfield, and when he was aged five years five months, his mother was visited by social workers. She told them apparently that she had questioned the child about Chris and Dawn. That is not a promising start to his "disclosure", since I can know nothing of how this questioning proceeded, or in such ignorance form a conclusion as to the significance of the fact that he apparently "froze". It is recorded in Social Services records between 12 January and 9 February 1994 that there had still been no "disclosure". The mother was, however, clearly becoming anxious. She reported that she felt very left out of things "and this became more evident when she had spoken to [the mother of Child 14]". She had informed his teacher at his new school "about Shieldfield" and was met with the response, "Oh not another one". She therefore did not feel "very supported". By 9 February it was being recorded that the mother was self-harming after a break up with her boyfriend. She was described as "very distraught".
  810. By 27 February of that year, however, Child 3 was apparently recounting to Dr McArdle of the Fleming Nuffield Unit that "they put pencils on my bottom". This needs to be seen against the background of what seems to have been persistent questioning at home (how suggestively I do not know) and the usual reservations required in respect of discussions in therapy (see the Cleveland Report).
  811. It is necessary to record an unusual feature about the child's medical background. He was in nappies until he was three because of a stomach problem. He had two bowel biopsies and also required a special diet. According to Audrey Palmer, he was "not always easy to deal with".
  812. Nearly two years on, matters progressed to the stage where Child 3's mother was reporting to Judith Jones, shortly after the Review Team had been set up, that Mr Lillie had at some stage stuck a paint brush up his bottom – and it hurt. By this time, of course, three years and six months had elapsed since the boy's departure from Shieldfield. Ms Jones in evidence referred to the fact (while "trying not to be too indiscreet") that the mother had suffered "emotional difficulties" of her own and had received "some treatment for depression". According to Dr McArdle, the mother had lost much of her authority over her son. There was a vulnerability which "perhaps preceded Shieldfield". The mother described her rejection of the boy following a difficult birth, and Dr McArdle thought this related to puerpural depression. Without making too much of it, that does need to be weighed in the balance. Ms Jones said she found it "a difficult account".
  813. This conversation took place on 9 November 1995. The mother also reported to Judith Jones that she had taken him on a bus to find where this particular act of cruelty was supposed to have taken place. He apparently alighted near St Dominic's Church and asserted that Mr Lillie lived nearby. Other people were said to go there also (echoes of the paedophile ring) and Miss Reed accompanied them on several visits. This was where she too hurt children. This is not the only example of anachronism in the case, since Mr Lillie did not move to live in the Red Barns district until about 11 months after Child 3 left Shieldfield and was therefore completely beyond the clutches of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed. By whatever means, the story of child abuse at Red Barns was clearly doing the rounds. But in Child 3's case it simply cannot have been true. Ms Jones recognised this, in evidence on 15 February, and thought that paragraph 101 of her witness statement needed to be corrected. She had reported a conversation with the mother of Child 3, in which the child was said to have become agitated on alighting "just in front of Red Barns". She fairly accepted that she had probably jumped to a conclusion by adding those words.
  814. Unfortunately, this non-event is elevated to considerable significance on page 210 of the Report where it was said under the sub-heading "Out of the nursery – the places to which children say they were taken":
  815. "Parents were also surprised at the level of distress and panic some children experienced when they went to these places. Sometimes in the course of a routine journey, a child would suddenly become distressed and identify a place that they said they had been taken to by Chris Lillie and Dawn Reed. One child said that that was 'where Chris lives, other people go there too. Dawn goes with us and that's where she hurts children'."
  816. According to Professor Friedrich, the mention of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed was frightening to Child 3 and, for that reason, it is not surprising "that he made very few statements during the time in the nursery". It is interesting that he should put it that way since, so far as I am aware, there were not "very few statements" during that period – there were none. This is just one example of Professor Friedrich's free-flowing and creative approach to the evidence.
  817. According to notes made following a visit on 10 November 1993, by Kulvinder Chohan and Helen Foster, the mother had spent a good deal of time at the Nursery ("four mornings a week") and she enjoyed the company of the staff. "She was a friend of Chris and Dawn and believed they were the most dedicated members of staff there". What is being postulated here is that despite their "dedication", and their friendliness towards the mother, the Claimants were inserting objects into his anus, and so successfully terrorising him into silence that he said nothing about it for nearly (or perhaps for more than) two years. It could in theory be true, but in order to attach weight to this scenario I would need to know a good deal about how the information was elicited, and also how he came to alight at Red Barns when he simply could never have been taken to Miss Kelly's flat.
  818. On 13 May the Review Team decided to drop this child from the plea of justification. I therefore need not say anything further. They were ordered to pay the Claimants' costs incurred in meeting the allegations.
  819. Child 4

  820. It will be recalled that it was with Child 4 that Miss Page began her cross-examination of Professor Barker; hers does represent a particularly striking example of cruelty and perversion if the pleaded allegations are correct.
  821. She was born on 2 September 1990, and was moved into the Red Room in August 1992, just after she had begun toilet training. She was first seen by Dr San Lazaro on 7 July 1993. By that stage, the only relevant allegation she had made was that Christopher Lillie had smacked her bum and "fairy [vagina]". The examination revealed no abnormalities. Dr San Lazaro noted at the time that her mother appeared under some degree of stress because a friend had suffered a mental breakdown. I note also that as early as 19 May 1993 the mother (who was pregnant at the time) needed to calm herself down after attending meetings about abuse at Shieldfield. She admitted to the social worker, Marion Harris, that she "led" the child and put ideas in her head. She also described her as "gobby" and as being ready to "tell anything". Nevertheless, nothing of note was in fact said at that stage. On 6 August 1993, when there was a home visit, neither Child 4's mother or grandmother had any concerns about abuse. Indeed, the grandmother was expressing sorrow that Dawn Reed had left Shieldfield as she thought she was a "good nursery employee" and had been very fond of her.
  822. Eventually, there was a totally unproductive interview recorded on video. This took place on 18 May 1994 (wrongly labelled 1993). Significantly, the child was recorded on 17 May 1994 as saying in class, "My mummy says Chris and Dawn are naughty". The member of staff also recorded the same day how she had talked to the child about the forthcoming interview. Indeed, this member of staff (Fiona) had actually been to discuss the meeting with Helen Foster and others at 9.00 a.m. that morning. She passed on to the child that she had informed them how clever she (Child 4) was in class. The interview itself is a striking example of how unsatisfactory the interviewing techniques were, especially in the light of the Cleveland guidelines. The child begins the interview quite happily and chats easily to Helen Foster while drawing. Then (contrary to good practice) the mother is brought in. The child has a dummy stuck in her mouth and is rocked back and forth on her mother's lap while Helen Foster bombards her with questions in a wheedling and cajoling voice. The child is visibly bored and frustrated and becomes as unresponsive as a sack of potatoes. Helen Foster tells her she is there to help children and that her friends at Shieldfield have been to see her and she can help them. But she cannot help children if they do not tell her about what she had described as the "muddles" in their heads. From the child's reaction to all this, I regard the interview as abusive in itself. Her demeanour was very similar to that of Child 2 in her first interview. It is fair to Helen Foster to record that she recognised that interviewing would be conducted, generally, quite differently nowadays.
  823. When Child 4 was seen by Dr San Lazaro for the second time, there had been another child born to the family and the mother had been in hospital with post-natal depression. This was recorded on 21 February 1994. The child was obviously under some emotional pressure too. On 13 May 1994 Dr San Lazaro was recording that the mother had days when she felt distant from her daughter, did not feel physically attached to her or able to give her a kiss or cuddle.
  824. By July 1994, much more serious allegations about Christopher Lillie had come to the fore and the child had apparently been speaking of a knife in the vagina, which had caused bleeding. (Needless to say, there had been no contact between her and Mr Lillie between the first examination in July 1993 and the second in July 1994.)
  825. The first mention of Dawn Reed was apparently on 17 March 1994 when she said that she had been to a house with "Chris and Dawn". No cutlery was mentioned at that stage. It is vital in my judgment to see all the 1994 "disclosures" by Child 4 and her behaviour against the background of a letter dated 9 August 1994, in which Dr Kaplan, a consultant psychiatrist, reported to Dr San Lazaro that since February 1994, according to her parents, she was "starting to go on about Chris and Dawn". There was a recurrent theme that they had been smacking her on the vulva. There were also from that time various behavioural difficulties including perpetual anger, swearing and touching her baby brother's genitals. The mother reported that the problems began in February 1994 after she was discharged from the hospital with post-natal depression. This may be coincidence but more likely not.
  826. There was a later history of urinary infection, beginning in November 1994. There was a history too of vulvitus and vaginal discharge. By 1996, Dr San Lazaro was noting erythema or redness and petechial changes over the hymen. She had also been reported as having bled into her underwear. This was three and half years after Mr Lillie and Miss Reed had been suspended, and there was no evidence whatever to link them to these subsequent physical findings.
  827. By May 1997, her mother was still concerned about the possibility of urinary problems. The evidence is that urinary tract infections are not uncommon in girls of that age. The redness and soreness could be explained by itching, scratching or masturbation or, at least in theory, by ongoing sexual abuse. There was a (later) pattern of medical and behavioural symptoms, sometimes associated with sexual abuse, which was described as "far-reaching and prolonged" (in the words of Dr Ward). In the light of the absence of findings on first examination, two to three months after last contact with Christopher Lillie, none of this is likely to have any bearing on the issues I have to decide.
  828. I note elsewhere in this judgment (paragraphs 1181 and 1330) that the impression was given by the Review Team on pages 209 and 217 of the Report that there was physical evidence to validate Child 4's dramatic allegations of penetration. It is thus important to record that there was not. It is also relevant that the story went on developing as the years went by. In the Panorama broadcast of October 1997, the mother alleged for the first time (certainly so far as the Review Team were aware) that Christopher Lillie was present, and laughing, while the assault was taking place (somewhat reminiscent of an allegation made by Child 14: see paragraph 759 below). It was embellished further on that occasion by the mother adding that "…they seem to have done it a few times". There is nothing in the evidence to suggest that either of these important elements had ever been mentioned before. The Review Team chose not to address the point, but I obviously cannot take the same approach, since it further undermines what was always an implausible suggestion.
  829. Child 5

  830. Child 5 was born on 29 October 1989. She entered Shieldfield on 22 March 1993, attending usually three days a week, and remained there until September 1994. She thus overlapped with Mr Lillie only for the briefest period, since he was suspended three weeks after she entered the Nursery. It is to be noted that during that period she was in the Yellow Room – not under the immediate care of Mr Lillie or Miss Reed.
  831. For the first two visits she was in the company of her mother. The Register shows that she attended unaccompanied only for 7 days during Mr Lillie's time. He maintained his composure throughout most of what must have seemed to him a distressing time in the witness box, but he was moved by mild exasperation to observe that, in view of what he is now supposed to have done to her, she must have spent most of her time during those 7 days being abused by him.
  832. Against this background, it is hardly surprising that when questioned about Mr Lillie and Miss Reed by her parents (in May and December 1993) Child 5 said that she had no recollection of either of them. Yet on 27 (or 25?) May 1994 she made her first "disclosure", as recorded by staff in the Yellow Room, to the effect that Chris and Dawn had hurt her hand.
  833. She had by this time spent 14 months in the Yellow Room with other children who was "disclosing" serious allegations about Mr Lillie and Miss Reed, who were making visits to the NSPCC for video interviews, and who were undergoing therapy. The talk was therefore of "bums" and "fairies" and the use of crayons. She later stated at home that "Chris put the crayon beside my fairy". The word "fairy" was not used by her at home and it is likely that she picked it up at Shieldfield – along with the notion of a crayon being used for abuse. These two concepts reflect closely what was being said, for example, by Child 23 in her video interview in July 1993.
  834. There then followed over the succeeding weeks and months a litany of allegations involving many of the regular Shieldfield themes (e.g. visits to Mr Lillie's house, Miss Reed's house and libraries, and also references to dogs, snakes and threats of death to relatives). None of this has any contact with reality, since it would be very odd if during her seven days in the Yellow Room Mr Lillie and Miss Reed had managed to spirit her away from her carers for abusive visits outside the Nursery - without the connivance of those carers.
  835. In relation to Child 5, Dr Hewitt referred to the virtual absence of any behavioural re-enactment of abusive acts and concluded that it was impossible to say with any level of certainty that she was abused. The Defendants' "disclosures" expert Professor Friedrich observed that the relative absence of sexualised behaviour would indicate minimal exposure, but considered her statements to be consistent with exposure to a sexually threatening and abusive environment. Having done some "homework" at Miss Page's request over the weekend of 13-14 April, even he was prepared to concede that he could find no support for this child having been abused.
  836. As to physical symptoms, there is a complicating feature in this case. Child 5 had the misfortune to suffer what must have been a painful straddle injury some time prior to her examination. She had slipped on a climbing frame. It is against that background that one has to assess the significance of the ano-genital findings. There was a substantial trauma to the hymen with a central scar, altered vascularity and a split through the fourchette. There was a wide hymenal orifice and some tissue loss. Dr Ward regards this pattern as more consistent with sexual abuse by means of a blunt penetrative injury.
  837. Dr Watkeys was unable to form a clear view in the light of discrepancies in Dr San Lazaro's notes and report and of her inadequate description of the hymenal damage. She does, however, make the cogent point that the child was examined in connection with her straddle injury on 18 May and 22 June 1993. Both these examinations thus occurred after any conceivable contact with either of the alleged abusers. On the first occasion, it was not possible to carry out an inspection of her genitals (possibly because of pain or distress), although it had been noted that there was blood on her knickers. On the second occasion, the GP (Dr Kattan) found her anatomy "entirely normal". It is true that there is no detailed description of the genital area on that occasion but, if it was "entirely normal" on 22 June 1993, this would suggest that the injuries spotted by Dr San Lazaro a year later, however they occurred, had no connection with Mr Lillie or Miss Reed.
  838. Dr Watkeys was cross-examined by Mr Bishop on this subject on 24 May. He was putting that the GP could have lacked the experience, knowledge or competence to pick up what Dr San Lazaro observed a year later. As I have noted elsewhere, the diagnosing of hymenal injury is such that even a paediatric registrar might not be up to it. On the other hand, Dr Watkeys made the very telling point that even a GP could hardly miss a split through the fourchette.
  839. In this case there had been some preoccupation with death, but it has to be seen in the context that the child was upset during this period by the death of her grandmother.
  840. This was another child who was withdrawn from the plea of justification on 13 May (the Review Team being ordered to pay the costs of meeting these allegations up to that point).
  841. Child 6

  842. Child 6 was born on 26 January 1991. When she was just under two years of age, on 4 January 1993, she began at Shieldfield in the Red Room under the care of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed. She left in October 1993.
  843. One of the particular features of this child is an apparent phobia of doctors. She mentioned "nasty doctors" to her mother towards the end of the Summer of 1993. She also showed a marked reluctance to be medically examined or even to make eye contact with Dr San Lazaro. She was anxious and unco-operative on 3 and 19 November 1993, so that physical examination was not possible. She had been referred by her mother and social workers because of suspected abuse. This came about as a result of remarks she had made shortly beforehand, after leaving Shieldfield. She had pointed to her genitalia and alleged that Dawn had smacked her "jenny" with a spoon. She had also accused both Chris and Dawn of putting spoons up her bottom. Her mother described herself as having been "in denial" up to October (i.e. until she left Shieldfield). The Review Team suggest that these revelations came so late because she only began to describe what happened to her once she could construct sentences. When she became sufficiently articulate at the age of 2 years nine months, she was recalling events which occurred (if at all) between 24 and 27 months of age. Miss Page suggests that there is a possibility of cross-contamination as a result of contact with Child 26 and/or her mother. This is partly because Child 6 incorporated references to Child 26. But this is speculative.
  844. Physical examination was finally achieved only on 5 May 1994 under anaesthesia. This revealed adhesions between the hymen and labia minora extending on to the fourchette. There was a disagreement between Dr Ward and Dr Watkeys as to the significance of these findings. The former considered them, together with her statements and behaviour, as being strongly suggestive of sexual abuse. The latter considered that adhesions can be caused either by abuse or by infection. Not having seen the original notes, however, she queried whether what were described as adhesions might in fact be perihymenal bands (a "normal variant"). This was partly because Dr San Lazaro's sketch (in so far as it could be relied on) appeared to show a symmetry (at 5 and 7 o'clock), such as is often to be found in congenital features of that kind. The Defendants cite a recent paper (published in 2000) which suggests that labial adhesions may be more significant than previously thought (indicative of abuse). It is interesting, however, that it refers to fusion of the labia to the hymenal membrane "resulting in an asymmetric appearance" (emphasis added).
  845. The mother emphasised the child's phobias and clinging shyness, which she refused to accept could be attributed to life events, such as concerns about her father in America or the arrival on the scene of a new male partner. Even today, apparently, Child 6 has a phobia about doctors and dentists.
  846. When Miss Reed is alleged to have smacked her with a spoon on her "jenny", others present are said to have been Child 26 and "Chris". Child 26 had been with her throughout her period in the Red Room. One possible confusion is that Child 26 had a brother called "Christopher". In any event, there is no confirmation for this story. Child 26 said nothing about other children being present. Child 6 also mentioned Child 4 as being present on more than one occasion when she was abused. It is true that Child 6 overlapped with both these girls in the Red Room, but neither bears out her account.
  847. The mother spoke of potentially significant disclosures being made over Christmas Day 1993 at the time when they would normally have been having lunch. She had made contemporaneous notes of the child's disclosures which turned up in the course of the trial. On 20 and 24 December 1993 the child said that Mr Lillie had hurt her with a large pink hammer, as wide as her outspread arms, on the head, the vagina and the bottom. She also mentioned this on 26 January 1994. She described the hammer as having a black hole in one end and as having water coming out of it. This is a description that is unique to her and is thus relied upon by the Defendants as confirming that she was not merely copying some other child's statements. Moreover, the only other child to suggest abuse with a spoon was Child 2. She left Shieldfield in May 1993 and Child 6 left months later and moved on to a different Nursery from that attended by Child 2. Again, therefore, it is said that there was no scope for copying. Although the mother was attending "all the meetings, the social services meetings", and the "Sunday evening group", she "did not discuss it in great depth".
  848. It is necessary to focus on the fear of doctors and dentists and consider its significance in relation to the question of whether Mr Lillie and/or Miss Reed abused Child 6 and, if so, how. There was some reference also to a "nasty doctor" called Alastair (the mother was unable to recall whether this name corresponded to anyone in the GP practice she had used at the time). Of course, if abusers dress up as doctors, or pretend to be doctors, and under that guise set about indecently assaulting children, it would be easy to understand how such a phobia could arise. On the other hand, it is not the only conceivable explanation for a fear of doctors or dentists. Such people, in the nature of their occupations, tend to be associated with fear, pain or discomfort. Much will depend on the child's particular experiences. Child 6, for example, clearly underwent some distress at and following the unsuccessful consultations with Dr San Lazaro in November 1993. One has to address the possibility at least of iatrogenic harm (analagous perhaps to that discussed in a rather different context by Richard J. Lawlor in Chapter 5 of Expert Witnesses in Child Abuse Cases, eds. Stephen J. Ceci and Helen Hembrooke). I do not find it inherently implausible that Dr San Lazaro could have put the child off doctors, although it does appear that there was apparently some reference to a "nasty doctor" in September 1993 before she ever met her.
  849. It was interesting to note that Child 6 was cited by Dr San Lazaro in her witness statement and on 13 May, when she first went into the witness-box, as one of those in respect of whom she would now express a different opinion. This was because she has changed her views about the significance, or otherwise, of hymenal adhesions:
  850. "Suppose that child walked off the street and was not involved at Shieldfield at all, what would I do with that child? Would I refer that child for a child abuse inquiry? I would not."
    It may be that much heartache could have been saved if a different consultant had been brought in all those years ago. The remark is also telling in another respect; namely, because it seemed that the very fact of coming from Shieldfield had pre-disposed her to finding abuse. This may well account for the unusually high percentage of physical findings which puzzled Dr Watkeys (see para. 384 above).
  851. The Defendants' case is that on a number of occasions between January and April 1993 Mr Lillie and Miss Reed put their fingers, cutlery and other objects into her vagina and anus. Mr Lillie is also said to have raped and buggered her (or alternatively put their genitals into close contact). The serious allegations of penetrative abuse made by the Review Team in respect of this child have never been withdrawn. They clearly owed a good deal of their early sustenance to Dr San Lazaro, but even though she has changed her mind subsequently the allegations remain on the record. She was not one of the children withdrawn from the plea of justification on 13 May.
  852. Child 7

  853. Child 7 was born on 14 November 1990 and began at Shieldfield in the Baby Room on 6 May 1992. Following an introductory visit, she joined the Red Room on 26 November of that year. She was thus in the joint care of Mr Lillie and Miss Reed until the suspensions, when she would have been just under two and a half years old. She was not one of the "indictment children" and the findings at her medical examination on 2 June 1993 were not specific. There was redness and inflammation around the vulva, and a small disruption in the hymen in the posterior margin at 7 o'clock. The anus was slightly lax. None of these findings could be classified as diagnostic of sexual abuse (although, as so often, it is not possible to exclude that possibility). There was no video recorded interview. The Defendants' case depends, therefore, largely on statements made to parents or behaviour witnessed by them. Both parents gave evidence before me on 19 March. In certain respects it emerged that neither of them was what medical experts sometimes call "an accurate historian".
  854. The first oral statement (which could hardly be called a "disclosure") occurred in August 1993, when she told her mother that a man would come and stab her (i.e. her mother) if she was not a good girl. This is relied upon not so much as direct evidence of any inappropriate behaviour but rather as being consistent with the child having been threatened in some way.
  855. There was then a statement involving Mr Lillie and Miss Reed on 13 October, when the child was answering a question from her father following a nightmare. She said that they had "bitten her legs". She also told her mother that Chris and Dawn had upset a lot of children at the nursery and that they had made her cry. This almost certainly reflects regular discourse between the children at the Nursery about what had been going on. At this stage there is no allegation of indecency or assault so far as Child 7 herself is concerned.
  856. It needs to be noted that in early 1994 Child 7 lived next door to Child 4, and their mothers had been discussing matters. On 17 March of that year Child 4 spoke of going to the library and "Chris" making certain children cry; in particular, Child 7, Child 8 and Child 17. A few days later, on 23 March, Child 7 told her mother that Mr Lillie had hurt her and Child 4 with a big knife. Later the same day she reported that Chris had a big, sharp pointed knife and demonstrated that Mr Lillie and Miss Reed had used it on her (running her hand up and down her tummy, and then swishing it about). The disclosures book from the Yellow Room contains an entry for 6 July 1994, recording that Child 4 on this occasion said, "Chris and Dawn stick the knife up my bum and [Child 7's] bum – up my friends". At the same dining table, on that occasion, Child 7 corrected her by saying "not up my bum; up your bum".
  857. On 27 May Child 4 is alleged to have said that Mr Lillie and Miss Reed smacked a number of children including Child 7.
  858. On 3 June 1994 Child 4 told her mother that Mr Lillie and Miss Reed had put her in a bath with Child 7, Child 8 and Child 28. On 23 June 1994 Child 6 alleged that Mr Lillie had hurt a baby and also mentioned other children in that context including, apparently, Child 7.
  859. Accordingly, so far as verbal statements are concerned, allegations are being made by others about things done to Child 7 rather than she herself making such statements.
  860. At the examination by Dr San Lazaro on 2 June 1993, Child 7's mother informed her that since Mr Lillie's suspension on 16 April Child 7 had been brighter and happier. She was also apparently readier to go to Shieldfield.
  861. Two of the more striking allegations in relation to Child 7 are focused upon her conduct in January 1994. Apparently, on 16 January that year she insisted on playing doctors with her mother, and made her lie on the bed. She covered her face with a pillow, pretended to stick needles in her and attempted to pull off her mother's knickers. She then said "I want to do your eyes… Chris did it, Chris did my eyes and Dawn watched".
  862. It is difficult to know what significance this was supposed to have. Both parents said they had raised the subject of sore or red eyes with Christopher Lillie. The father suggested he had been out "on the booze" the night before, but Mr Lillie was non-committal. The mother said that when she raised this subject Mr Lillie replied that he was suffering from conjunctivitis. Neither explanation seems to support an allegation that he had done something sadistic to Child 7's eyes.
  863. On 23 January, she once again insisted on playing doctors, pinched her mother all over, pulled down her knickers, and made as if to push a tube of hand cream into her buttocks. When asked by her mother if anyone had done that to her, Child 7 replied "yes, Chris".
  864. Mr Lillie explained, in this context, the circumstances in which nursery officers were permitted to use cream on children's buttocks. He had no specific recollection of using it on Child 7, but he could easily have done so. If they noted any soreness, the procedure was that one of the nursery officers would watch over the child while the other went to the relevant manager, who would then inspect the child's bottom and approve the use of the cream. Since this child regularly seems to have suffered from redness and soreness, she would clearly be a candidate for such treatment. It would in those circumstances be wrong to assume that the use of cream implied some impropriety. Mr Bishop submitted that the incident cannot simply be explained as a result of Mr Lillie putting cream on the child's bottom, but the argument ended in bathos:
  865. "If Mr Lillie did put cream on the child's bottom he would not have been the only one to do so in her life. When asked if anyone had done this to her, Child 7 is clear and says 'Chris'."
  866. Another submission of Mr Bishop was that the incidents involving "sexual behaviour" with her mother "lasted about 30-45 minutes" and that the child really looked as though she wanted to hurt her mother. It is very difficult to interpret these events because the scenario is such an unusual one. Normally a parent would not permit inappropriate behaviour of this kind to go on for such a very long time. The behaviour was certainly odd, but I cannot construe it as a re-enactment of something Mr Lillie did to Child 7. One of the problems about permitting inappropriate behaviour is that the longer it is allowed to go on the more inappropriate it may become.
  867. On 29 January Child 7 said that she had been in a bath with Dawn Reed – but not with Mr Lillie. If that is indeed what the child said, I find without hesitation that it is untrue. Reliance is placed on what is said to be corroboration for this allegation by Child 4. In June 1994 she apparently told her mother that Mr Lillie and Miss Reed had put Child 7 in a bath and that they had photographs taken of them. I have already set out my concerns about Child 4's own problems in 1994 which, sadly, may have prompted a certain amount of attention-seeking.
  868. It is said that there was other behaviour suggesting traumatic stress while Child 7 was in the Red Room with Mr Lillie and Miss Reed. Examples given were regression in toilet training (Mr Lillie's recollection is that she was still in nappies, although she had begun potty training before his suspension), being clingy, reluctance to go to the Nursery and sleep disturbance.
  869. Dr Sandra Hewitt expressed the view that:
  870. "The rich and diverse patterns of behaviour noted in Child 7's history is strongly indicative of a child who has suffered trauma as a result of sexual abuse during the period in which she was in the Red Room, and under the care of Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie. No other explanation of Child 7's behaviours can be found to fit the data".
  871. Professor Friedrich noted that Child 7 was reluctant to speak directly about "what happened to her", tending to suggest that other children were hurt rather than herself. He took the view that the data deriving from her statements and behaviour "clearly indicates sexual abuse and is consistent with the medical evidence that has also been reported".
  872. Unfortunately, the information supplied is not necessarily accurate. Child 7's mother said in her witness statement that "between Christmas and Easter" (i.e. when she was in the Red Room) Child 7 had redness to her vulva on occasions "which had no obvious cause". Her recollection is somewhat at odds with contemporaneous records. Such redness was recorded in the Baby Room Day Book on 14 October 1992. Dr San Lazaro referred to redness and soreness of the vulva at her examination on 2 June 1993 and, over a year later, when she was tested for sexually transmitted disease on 29 June 1994, she was described as being "still very red and sore". It was a recurring theme which could not be linked specifically to the Red Room. Moreover, it is important to see the redness in the context of what was happening so far as potty training was concerned. Contrary to the impression given by her mother (I am sure quite honestly), Child 7 was not potty trained by the time she went into the Red Room. Also contrary to the mother's statements, she did not regress in this respect in the Red Room.
  873. These are classic examples of how memory has played tricks with anxious carers so as to lead them to invest various incidents from the past with undue and sinister significance. There is little doubt that this mother was anxious from a very early stage in the Shieldfield "scandal". She described in her witness statement how at the first parents' meeting she came out in tears because she had become convinced that her child had been abused. Memories are re-assembled and attributed to child abuse in the light of information subsequently supplied. But, in some cases, such as this one, it is possible to demonstrate from contemporaneous records that the truth has been distorted. A standard response to this, made by parents or the Defendants in the course of the evidence, is that the contemporaneous records (in particular, the Shieldfield Day Books) cannot be trusted. This will certainly not wash, however, so far as Child 7 is concerned. There is no reason to suppose that the Baby Room entry of 14 October 1992 was falsely made to disguise child abuse (to be conducted several months into the future). Nor is there any conceivable reason to doubt, in this respect, the entries made by Dr San Lazaro in June 1993 and June 1994. The supposed causal link between child abuse and vulval soreness simply cannot be established.
  874. My attention was also drawn to an interview with the mother reported in the Daily Mail for 13 November 1998 (the day after the publication of the Review Team Report). This further illustrates how the mother's anxiety had led her to give an account of events which (although no doubt an honest one) simply bears no relation to reality. Some of the inaccuracies she put down to mis-reporting by the journalist, but this seems unlikely in this particular case. Some of the allegations were of a lurid character (I shall not repeat them) and they underline the caution that is required in weighing this parent's evidence.
  875. Child 8

  876. This boy was born on 30 December 1990. At less than 18 months, he began in the Baby Room at Shieldfield on 26 May 1992. He transferred, after two or three introductory visits, to the Red Room on 21 January 1993. He attended usually for two days a week. When Mr Lillie was suspended, he was still less than two years four months old. When he was medically examined on 10 June 1994, nothing abnormal was revealed. Nevertheless, his behaviour and statements, as subsequently reported, provide evidence for Dr Sandra Hewitt of "the classic hallmarks of sexual abuse". She is ready to conclude that he suffered trauma as a result of sexual abuse when he was in the Red Room, as the content of his dreams revolves around acts associated with Mr Lillie and Miss Reed.
  877. This is based upon the evidence that from about March 1994 (aged about three years two months) he woke up shouting "Don't hurt my bottom, Dawn". In April he apparently shouted out "Don't put it up my bottom". This was said by his mother to have happened several times quite spontaneously. Naturally, one has to approach such a very specific allegation with some caution. It is almost too "pat" to carry conviction. It is necessary to allow for over-interpretation on the part of a mother who had become anxious partly as a result of attending a meeting. In evidence, she told me:
  878. "I went to one out of curiosity, I think, really. I wanted to know what was going on. I wanted to find out what was happening with the investigation …. and parents said things that made me think – that sounded like what my child was doing, and I started to feel a bit alarmed, and I decided that I would no longer send him to the nursery".
  879. Child 8's baby sitter gave evidence on 15 March and his mother on 18 March. The baby sitter said that in late 1992 or 1993 she noticed changes in the boy's behaviour. He became easily upset, had temper tantrums, and took to wetting. His mother said that when he entered the Red Room his toilet training either remained static or regressed. He began to talk of monsters and masks.
  880. The baby sitter recounted an occasion (she thought before the criminal trial but in mid-1994) when Child 8 went stiff as a board and asked "Why did they do that to me?" He referred to Mr Lillie and/or Miss Reed having pushed a sharp implement up his bottom – she could not recall whether it was scissors or a needle. She said her mind was racing at the time and she was trying to control her emotions. She knew that there had been allegations about the Nursery by that time and that his mother had some anxieties. By this time, of course, the allegations had been in circulation for approximately a year.
  881. It is to be noted that at the end of July 1993 his mother had told social workers that Child 8 had actually liked Chris and Dawn. She also commented, perhaps significantly, that he tended to agree with "whatever you say". It is therefore necessary to recall that he remained at Shieldfield for about a year after the allegations first surfaced (being removed from the Nursery in March 1994). Throughout that time rumours were doing the rounds and Mr Lillie and Miss Reed were being portrayed among the children in negative and frightening terms. For a suggestible child, therefore, there was much to take root and cause alarm. His mother was dismissive of this idea, and was of opinion that "children of that age would not have the intelligence to be able to do that". It is not much to do with intelligence. Young children do tend to be suggestible and to talk about "taboo" topics (as Dr Cameron uncontroversially deposed).
  882. The mother said in evidence that she had liked Dawn Reed and found her friendly and open. Mr Lillie she found "more shifty", as he would not look her in the eye. She found the Red Room had a different atmosphere from that of the Baby Room. It was more subdued but "it was not a contented quietness".
  883. It seemed from her statements made in June 1994 and January 1996 that the child's behaviour had not seemed disturbed or significantly changed after going into the Red Room. Even in January 1996 the mother said, "… even looking back we cannot say that his behaviour changed". The problems seem to have been noticed after he left Shieldfield (i.e. nearly a year after the suspension) when "his behaviour deteriorated dramatically". Up to that point, the mother had (as she put it) "spent a year in denial". She did not want to know. She viewed matters differently thereafter, especially when she learnt that some children do not readily disclose abuse and that some are afraid to do so.
  884. I was told that the mother (and indeed on one occasion the baby sitter) had attended meetings organised for Shieldfield parents. "Up to ten of us would meet in a pub on a Thursday night, including [the mothers of child 10, Child 22 and Child 6]". One of these had been addressed by Dr San Lazaro. She was also in regular contact with other mothers by telephone in 1994. Those specifically mentioned were the parents of Children 6, 7, 10, 22 and 30.
  885. Child 8 underwent therapy at first with Dr McArdle and later with Mr Rick Telford.


BAILII: Copyright Policy | Disclaimers | Privacy Policy | Feedback | Donate to BAILII