Letter: Listen to the Orkney children

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The Independent Online
Sir: Professor Elizabeth Newson hits the nail on the head (letter, 9 May). In the second of the three 'dawn raids' on Orkney children in 1990, seven of the eight children seized were kept from the ensuing sheriff's hearing, and thus denied any opportunity to refute social workers' claims. For six months, their legal entitlement to be heard at children's hearings was denied, as was access to their mother.

Despite Sheriff Kelbie's public statement (4 April 1991) that the children had been 'repeatedly coached' by social workers, this coaching was allowed to continue. Interviewed by independent psychologists, the children insisted that social workers had lied, and that no harm had befallen them. The children's pleas to go home to the safety of their mother were ignored: instead they were told their mother was 'bad', a calumny that they reportedly have now come to accept.

The two youngest children, now seven and 10, have been deprived of access to their mother for nearly two years. They face imminent adoption. In Orkney their mother waits and mourns.

Yours faithfully,

ANDREW FENTON

Orkney Seven Action Group

Felbridge, Sussex

9 May

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