Newcastle nursery child protection expert admits exaggerating abuse

A child abuse expert admitted to a medical tribunal this week that
she “overstated and exaggerated” accounts of sexual abuse at a
Newcastle nursery.

Dr Camille De San Lazaro, a consultant paediatrician and senior
lecturer at Newcastle University, made a catalogue of errors in
reports compiled while investigating child sex abuse claims at
Shieldfield nursery.

Nursery nurses Dawn Reed and Christopher Lillie were charged in
1993 with child sex abuse, following examinations carried out by
Lazaro on six children,

Lillie was in jail for 10 months and Reed for 14 weeks before they
were both cleared of all charges by a judge.

The General Medical Council hearing was told that following the
collapse of the trial Newcastle City Council launched an inquiry
into the allegations.

The resulting report published in 1998 claimed the two nursery
nurses were guilty of sexual abuse, but Reed and Lillie
successfully sued the authors of the report and were each awarded
£200,000 compensation.

During the libel trial Lazaro admitted under cross-examination that
there were deficiencies and inaccuracies in the recording in the
child protection medical records and inconsistencies between her
medical notes and medical reports.

The GMC panel heard Lazaro had accepted in the trial that the
report she had written for the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board
which resulted in the criminal charges being brought was
“overstated, exaggerated and emotive”.

Counsel for the GMC Jane Sullivan said: “Whatever Dr Lazaro may or
may not have seen when she examined the child, her records were so
as to undermine the reliability of what she had to say.”

Sullivan quoted extracts from Dr Lazaro’s testimony in the libel
trial in which she described her report as having “frank errors”
and admitting there could have been more clarity.

The doctor, a consultant paediatrician at Newcastle’s Royal
Victoria Infirmary who received an OBE in 1999 for services in the
care of sexually abused children, denied a charge of serious
professional misconduct.

The hearing, which will decide whether Lazaro should be struck off
from the medical register, is expected to last up to two weeks.

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