The home secretary is to pay compensation to two former nursery
nurses who won a libel case after being wrongly accused of child
Dawn Reed and Christopher Lillie were charged with abusing children
at Shieldfield nursery in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1993 but were
acquitted a year later.
Newcastle Council rejected the ruling and launched an independent
inquiry after pressure from parents of children at the nursery.
The resulting report, published in November 1998, found Reed and
Lillie guilty of sexually abusing children in their care. The pair
launched a successful libel action against the council and the
authors of the report, all of whom had backgrounds in social
The six-month libel hearing ended in July. Mr Justice Eady
concluded that there was no basis for the review team’s allegations
and condemned the review process as a “shambles”. He awarded Reed
and Lillie £200,000 each in damages.
The pair will now also receive Home Office compensation for
wrongful imprisonment and for being wrongfully charged.
Meanwhile, the Society for Local Authority Chief Executives has
published guidance on what steps councils should take before
launching any such inquiry.
Getting it Right, which discusses the Reed and Lillie case
among others, is based on the experiences of 13 social services
It offers advice on how to conduct effective and fair ad hoc
inquiries, discusses the impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 and
poses questions covering the purpose of the inquiry, its terms of
reference and whether it will be held in public or private.
It also urges councils to consider whether the procedures for
conducting the inquiry are fair and consistent with natural
justice, and whether they avoid trespassing on disciplinary and
–Getting it Right from publications.solace.org.uk/adhoc