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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 February, 2004, 17:49 GMT
Freed care worker wants answers
Anver Daud Sheikh
The case against Anver Daud Sheikh was "holed"
A care worker who had his sex assault convictions quashed says serious questions must be asked about miscarriages of justice in child abuse cases.

Anver Daud Sheikh was two years into an eight-year term for serious sexual assaults on two boys in a Yorkshire care home where he worked 20 years ago.

The Court of Appeal found his conviction unsafe after concerns were raised about historic abuse cases.

Key evidence had not tallied with the dates Mr Sheikh worked at the home.

'Elated but angry'

"Today the tide is turning and serious questions have to be asked about the miscarriages against former teachers and carers in care homes," Mr Sheikh said in a statement read by his lawyers.

"My thoughts rest with the many other men and women who still have to have their day in the court of appeal," his solicitor Mark Newby said.

"As I walk out today I have very mixed feelings. I am elated to be going home but angry with what has happened to me," he added on his client's behalf.

Mr Sheikh paid tribute to his family, lawyers and the campaign group, Falsely Accused Carers and Teachers, for supporting him.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission and Historical Abuse Appeal Panel are now investigating to see whether there have been other miscarriages of justice.

More than 100 former carers and teachers convicted of child abuse are having their convictions examined.

False claim fears

Mr Sheikh had been found guilty of abuse at York Crown Court in May 2002.

The charges related to incidents at a North Yorkshire children's home where he worked as a housemaster.

But after he was convicted it was discovered that Mr Sheikh had not worked there for as long as previously thought, casting doubt on the allegations.

Mr Justice Hedley said the prosecution case was "holed below the water line" and released Mr Sheikh on Thursday.

Sitting child in silhouette
Often there is very little evidence apart from what the complainants themselves, the alleged victims, have to say."
Graham Zellick
Head of the CCRC

The CCRC has set up a wide-ranging inquiry, in which it will pool information with lawyers from the historical abuse appeal panel, and consider links between about 120 cases.

There are fears some alleged victims made false abuse claims in hope of compensation and these were followed up too enthusiastically by the police.

Professor Graham Zellick, head of the CCRC, said such prosecutions presented particular problems.

"The accusations go back very many years and that makes it extremely difficult for the defendant to answer the charges.

"And often there is very little evidence apart from what the complainants themselves, the alleged victims, have to say."

Growing concerns

The Home Affairs Select Committee concluded two years ago that abuse allegations in children's homes had led to a new genre of miscarriages of justice.

Since then, there have been growing concerns about police methods of trawling for information from alleged victims.

Rory O'Brian, chairman of the campaign group Fact said the case showed why those accused of child abuse should remain anonymous.

He himself was falsely accused of sexual abuse.

"I was suspended. My case got publicity. My career was ruined from that point - simply because of the allegation," he said.

"The problem is that as soon as an allegation is made there seems to be a mindset that it's true.

"From that moment on the investigation is coloured by that view."

The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"Anver Daud Sheikh's conviction was declared unsafe"

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