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Cleared: the story of Shieldfield

Shieldfield: how did it happen?

How our demons fuel witch-hunts

The evidence of Professor Barker


The question of malice


The Cosgrove letter

Crusade or witch-hunt?

Do you care to go to jail?

Care goes on trial

A global village rumour

What the BBC did not tell us

Crusade or witch-hunt?

Do you care to go to jail?

End this cruel injustice

The new injustices

Similar fact evidence

Trawling goes on trial

Shieldfield: the latest news

Shieldfield: university holds inquiry

THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTHUMBRIA is to hold an inquiry into the manner in which its reputation has been affected by the role played in the Shieldfield saga by disgraced social work academic, Professor Richard Barker. A report about this inquiry appears in today's issue of the Newcastle Sunday Sun which also carries news of a further complaint against psychologist Jacqui Saradjian who also served on the team.

For my THES article on why Professor Barker should resign, click here.

Meanwhile it is perhaps not too late to draw attention to an interesting online forum on false allegations run by Community Care which carries telling comments by Michael Barnes, Sue Griffiths and others. For a long time this leading social work magazine has dragged its heels on this issue. The fact that the December forum took place online rather than in the magazine perhaps indicates that it is still reluctant to deal with the issue properly. But the times may be changing.

January 12 2003

Home secretary upholds nursery nurses' innocence

In a decision reached with unprecented swiftness, the Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has endorsed the innocence of Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie and agreed to pay them compensation for being wrongly charged and wrongly imprisoned. This is the first time that the Home Secretary has ever given a complete exoneration on the basis of facts uncovered during a civil case. For Bob Woffinden's Guardian story, which appeared on Thursday 19 December, click here.

Stories which have appeared in the Newcastle press announcing that the nursery nurses will now have a 'massive payout' are misleading. In comparison to the original libel awards of 200,000, the amount of compensation paid by the Home Office will be relatively small.

22 December, 2002

Call for council chief to resign

Since the last Shieldfield bulletin appeared here there have been a number of noteworthy developments. In a solemn council meeting in Newcastle on Wednesday 4 December, Liberal Democrat councillor Gerry Keating called on the leader of the council, Tony Flynn,
to resign. For those who have not followed the story, it was, of course, Councillor Flynn who, in 1994, on the very day that the two wrongly accused nursery nurses had been acquitted in a court of law, made a statement to TV cameras in which he effectively pronounced them guilty over the heads of the court.

At the council meeting on 4 December, after eight long years, Councillor Flynn actually did one thing he had never done before - he apologised to Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie for all the suffering they had been caused.

Interestingly the Newcastle Journal, did not even report this fact. Perhaps it took the view that an apology which took so long in coming, and which had to be  extracted from Councillor Flynn by a political opponent's call for his resignation, was not worth the inch or so of paper a report of it would have taken up.

On the Sunday following the council meeting, the Sunday Sun ran a
detailed report of the meeting and launched its own campaign in an attempt to force the four members of the Review Team to hand back the 360,000 they had been paid by the people of Newcastle to compile their dishonest and libellous report. This Sunday (15 December), the Sun prints some of the many messages it has received in support of its campaign.

But a reader of this website who lives in the north east poses an intriguing question. He points out that the original Sunday Sun story printed photographs of only three of the members of the Review Team. Judith Jones was represented only by a black silhouette. And this week's edition of the paper also fails to carry any photograph of her. What can this mean?

15 December, 2002


Council admits mistakes

According to a report in yesterday's Newcastle Evening Chronicle, the City Council has now published its report into its own handling of the Shieldfield libel case under the title 'Lessons to be Learned'. Although the newspaper says that the Council 'has admitted to a catalogue of mistakes over the way a review team set up to investigate allegations of abuse at a nursery', it is by no means clear at this stage that the catalogue in question is either accurate or complete.

Among the Council's many mistakes, one of the most important was that it set up its 'independent' inquiry only after it had prejudged the crucial issue. Not only had it pronounced Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie guilty of sexually abusing children in advance of their criminal trial, but its acting leader, Councillor Tony Flynn, actually condemned them again in public on the very day that they had been acquitted in a court of law.

No less important was the decision of the council to appoint to its review team two people - Judith Jones and Jacqui Saradjian - who were known to be believers in the reality of satanic sexual abuse.

Neither of these extraordinary lapses of judgment features in the list of admitted errors contained in the Chronicle story. It remains to be seen whether they are in fact dealt with in the report, which is due to be debated in a Council meeting next Wednesday.

28 November, 2002

Lawyers short-listed as doctor suspended

Last week brought two new developments in the Shieldfield libel case. The most welcome and the most unexpected was an announcement that three of the lawyers who fought for justice on behalf of the falsely accused nursery nurses, Dawn Reed and Christopher Lillie, have been short-listed for a human rights award.

Barristers Adrienne Page QC and Adam Speker, and solicitor Richard Osborne of S. J. Cornish were jointly nominated as Human Rights Lawyer of the Year, 2002, an award sponsored by JUSTICE and Liberty. They have now been short-listed for the award which will be presented on 10 December, International Human Rights Day. For full details click

The same week brought news in an article in The Times that the consultant paediatrician at the centre of the case, Dr Camille san Lazaro has at last been suspended.

For general Shieldfield news, views and links please click
here. More Shieldfield news soon.

26 November, 2002

'Scandal wrecked my life'

On Monday November 4 the Newcastle-based Evening Chronicle gave the Shieldfield story front-page treatment for the first time in many weeks. Under the banner headline 'CHILD ABUSE SCANDAL WRECKED MY LIFE' it told the story of how Joyce Eyeington, the overall manager of Newcastle's nurseries, had been driven to a nervous break-down by the publication of the report which wrongly condemned Newcastle nursery nurses Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie. She had, she said, been made into a scapegoat and had been punished for abuse which had in fact never taken place at all:

"My life has been ruined by what happened. My family has been torn apart, my reputation has been shattered, I've been forced to leave my home and my professional career has been ruined," said Mrs Eyeington.

"I am one of the forgotten sacrifices of this affair. I am another victim of that report which has been shown to be nonsense. Everyone involved back in 1993 has suffered, the parents, the staff and more importantly the children. But what has been done about it? Absolutely nothing."

The story, which is run over three pages, also features prominently a box headed 'Panel will not appeal' which prints photographs of the two nursery nurses, briefly summarises the entrire story and includes the Council's statement that it fully accepts that they are innocent of all the allegations against them.


apologises to Dawn Reed and Chris Lillie.

5 November, 2002
New call for Barker to go

The story of the Shieldfield libel case, which was brought by two Newcastle nursery nurses when an independent Review Team wrongly found them guilty of sexually abusing young children in their care and supplying them to a paedophile ring, continues. The lead letter in the edition of the Times Higher Educational Supplement published on 18 October was from Terry Philpot. In it Philpot wrote that the call for Richard Barker, the head of the Review Team, to resign or be dismissed from his post of professor of social work at the University of Northumbria 'deserves the fullest possible support'.

He went on to suggest that, rather than making self-serving statements, Richard Barker would be better advised to apologise to the families involved in the case and 'to the two workers whose lives have been ruined'. Although Philpot was evidently writing in a private capacity, his views are particularly significant since he is the editor-in-chief of Community Care, the most widely read periodical for social workers in the UK.

The following week's THES  carried a new call for Barker to resign, made by Howard Moss, a lecturer at the University of Swansea. For the THES letters, click

The original THES interview with Richard Barker appeared alongside my article,  Why he must go. The portion of the judgment of Mr Justice Eady in the Shieldfield libel case which deals with Professor Barker's evidence is now available on this site. The judge's findings on malice are directly related to this evidence.

For general Shieldfield news, views and links, including a link to the full judgment, news about Newcastle City Council's decision not to appeal, and about the role of the Lib Dems in opening a real debate in a recent council meeting, please click

Richard Webster, 2002