Employee named in child abuse inquiry given 'special leave'

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The Independent Online
Westminster City council yesterday gave "special leave" to a former employee of Islington council who was named in the confidential annexe to an inquiry into child abuse in the north London borough. The man had been working for Westminster since 1993.

The move came as Labour called for a national database of known or suspected child sex offenders.

A spokeswoman for Westminster council said that when the former Islington's social services worker had been recruited "the appropriate checks" were carried out "and these did not give cause for concern".

The employee, who does not work with children, has since been subject to an independent investigation by Faircheck, a vetting agency, and has been interviewed on a number of occasions "co-operating fully at all times". All relevant material has been passed to the city council by Islington, the police and Ian White, the Oxfordshire social services director who conducted the Islington inquiry, the spokeswoman said.

But after denying that the employee was suspended and that the council was considering what further action, if any, to take, Westminster said that it had been decided yesterday to grant him special leave "in the interests of all concerned". An assessment should be completed by the end of the month, the council added.

The Centrepoint housing charity also confirmed yesterday that it had suspended one of its social workers after discovering that he had been under suspicion while working for Islington but had never been properly investigated. "He has been suspended while investigations are taking place," a spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, Labour has written to Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, calling for a national database of child sex offenders and tough new measures against child sex tourism. Last month Mr Howard ordered a review of how to tackle sex tourism. The proposals were backed by Michael Hames, former head of the Obscene Publications squad, who runs the Faircheck vetting agency.

Mr Hames and Labour both believe suspected offenders as well as convicted ones should go on the database, arguing that checks and balances can be put in place to ensure innocent people do not have their names blackened.

"We can't just stand back and say it's all too difficult," said Llin Golding, Labour's spokeswoman on the family.

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