Nightmare is over for `ritual abuse' families

BY JOHN ARLIDGE

Scotland Correspondent

Eight children taken into care after allegations of ritual sexual abuse are to be reunited with their parents after Scotland's most senior judge ruled an investigation by social workers was inept and flawed.

Lord Hope, Scotland's Lord President, yesterday upheld a ruling that the children had been "unjustifiably removed" from their Ayrshire homes by social workers with a "fashion" for seeking out ritual abuse. The "flawed" investigation had helped to create a "tragedy of immense proportions," he said.

Lord Hope's decision prompted calls for a fundamental review of the law affecting children north of the border. Paul Burns, the solicitor representing the families, called for new judicial safeguards to protect the rights of children and their parents.

The children - four boys and four girls aged 10 months to 11 years and from three families - were taken into care by Strathclyde Regional Council social workers in June 1990 after ritual sex abuse allegations. In August 1990, Sheriff Neil Gow QC ruled the eight were victims of "sinister sadistic, ritualistic" torture.

But, after lawyers acting for the children's parents uncovered new evidence that social workers were inadequately trained and had asked leading questions, the Court of Session in Edinburgh ordered a rehearing.

Sheriff Colin Miller, who conducted that hearing, found that evidence of alleged abuse had been ineptly collected and was "contaminated". In his ruling, he said that in 1990 there was a "fashion" to uncover ritual or satanic abuse.

Upholding Sheriff Miller's judgment yesterday, Lord Hope said: "It is clear that a tragedy of immense proportions has occurred...More than four-and -a-half years have gone by since the children were removed from their families in circumstances which the additional evidence has now demonstrated did not justify their removal."

Lord Hope ordered that the oldest child, now 15, should be allowed to go home immediately. The other seven would return during "a phased period". At least two children were too young to remember their parents when taken into care. Psychologists will help to reintroduce them to their mother and father.

The Ayrshire case comes after child abuse controversies in Cleveland, Orkney and Rochdale. One child law expert said last night it was "Rochdale revisited but much worse".

Lawyers for the families were last night examining the judgments before deciding whether to sue for damages. Strathclyde announced a full inquiry.

Years of hell, page 4

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Representative

£15500 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This international company deve...

Recruitment Genius: Field Service Engineer - Basingstoke / Reading Area

£16000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established name in IT Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced PPC Search Marketing Executive

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue