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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