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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Libelled nurses 'considered suicide'
Dawn Reed and Christopher Lillie
Dawn Reed and Christopher Lillie still fear for their lives
Two former nursery nurses say they considered taking their own lives after being falsely accused of sexually abusing children.

Dawn Reed, 31, and Christopher Lillie, 37, were named in a Newcastle City Council report into claims of abuse at the nursery where they worked.

It was published in 1998, four years after the pair had been acquitted on the direction of a judge at Newcastle Crown Court of sexual offences.

Mr Lillie and Ms Reed, who were awarded 200,000 libel damages each after a High Court hearing on Tuesday, said they still feared vigilante attacks as a result of the allegations.


My family have suffered so much it just can't be put into words

Dawn Reed

They successfully sued four authors of the report Abuse in Early Years which had been commissioned by the council.

High Court judge Mr Justice Eady said the pair should be awarded the damages - the highest payable - because of the scale, gravity and persistence of the allegations.

He ruled the authors had acted "with malice".

At a news conference on Wednesday, Ms Reed and Mr Lillie spoke about how the case had affected their lives for the last nine years.

"I don't particularly have any friends left. People found it hard to retain a friendship with me after the allegations were first made," said Ms Reed.

"Girls I trained with couldn't bear to be my friend any more.

"My family have suffered so much it just can't be put into words."

Mr Lillie said: "My friends just didn't want anything to do with me when this started.

Christopher Lillie at press conference
Christopher Lillie will not return to Tyneside

"And my girlfriend at the time, her friends didn't want anything to do with her either.

"This case doesn't just affect me and Dawn, it affects everybody to do with us."

Both also voiced fears about returning to Newcastle because of the stigma attached to their case - despite being cleared of all the allegations.

"I don't think I would ever go back to Newcastle again. There is just so much hostility, even now after this judgment," said Mr Lillie.

Ms Reed added: "I still go back to the North because all my family are there and I would never give up my family.

"When I go out on my own I feel vulnerable, I make sure I have a good pair of shoes on so if anyone were to attack me I could defend myself," she added.

Law degree

Mr Lillie and Ms Reed both admitted they had also considered suicide during their ordeal.

"It was in the back of my mind once the report came out," said Mr Lillie.

"I could feel all the hurt it had put on everyone else and I thought the easiest way out was for me to die and for them to get on with their lives."

Ms Reed, who is now studying for a law degree at a university in northern England, added: "What we have been branded with is probably the worst that anyone could be branded with - to be labelled as a paedophile.

"There is nothing that could compensate for that, nothing that could take that away."


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See also:

30 Jul 02 | England
30 Jul 02 | England
30 Jul 02 | England
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