Probe into collapsed abuse case

BBC News/July 13, 2004

Independent experts have been called in by Western Isles Council to assess its handling of a child abuse inquiry which collapsed.

The case against seven men and a woman was dropped after the Crown Office announced last week there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

Some of those who faced allegations of offences on the Isle of Lewis said they would seek compensation.

The council said it planned to assess the way the case was dealt with.

The investigation - codenamed Operation Haven - involved allegations of satanism and organised child abuse.

Eight adults were arrested and charged after dawn raids on homes in Lewis and England in October.

Peter Nelson, one of those initially accused, said he has suffered attacks on his home and property and he came close to taking his own life.

Mr Nelson said he has been consulting lawyers.

Penny Campbell, whose husband Iain was one of the accused, has been setting up a campaigning organisation called False Allegations Action Scotland to lobby MSPs.

On Tuesday, the council announced that it had called in social work inspectors.

Experts will examine the files and may interview social work officials before reporting to the council's child protection committee next month.

'Make recommendations'

In a statement, it said: "The council had agreed last November that this would be the procedure following the end of the recent child protection case.

"As one of the initial stages of the process, the council has invited the Social Work Services Inspectorate (SWSI) to play a role in independently analysing the involvement of the local authority and work will start on that later this week.

"The SWSI report will come back to the Child Protection Committee next month which will make recommendations for any further process."

Council leader Alex MacDonald said: "This is in line with the council's aim of continuous development in delivering responsibilities for children's services."

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