A High Court ruling in a libel case this week could have
far-reaching implications for the way local authorities respond to
allegations about employees.
Mr Justice Eady ruled that former nursery nurses Christopher
Lillie and Dawn Reed were innocent of the allegations of sexual
abuse made against them by an independent review team commissioned
by Newcastle Council in 1995. He said the four reviewers acted in
malice when they wrote their report, forfeiting their right to
qualified privilege and ordered them to pay libel damages of
£200,000 to each claimant, plus legal costs. He cleared the
council of malice.
The review team said they were shocked at the decision because
they acted on a genuine belief that Lillie and Reed had abused
children. They are considering whether to appeal.
Lillie and Reed were acquitted of charges of sexually abusing
children at Shieldfield Nursery at Newcastle Crown Court by