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Last Updated: Friday, 2 July, 2004, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Lewis child abuse charges dropped
Lewis, Western Isles
Some children on Lewis were taken into care
The case against seven men and a woman accused of child abuse in the Western Isles has collapsed.

The Crown Office confirmed that all charges in the case - which was said to involve offences against three girls aged under 16 - have been dropped.

The case began when four police forces staged dawn raids on homes in England and on Lewis in October last year.

In a statement, Northern Constabulary said the Crown Office instructed that no proceedings would be taken.

Operation Haven saw charges brought against the seven men and one woman which included the offences of rape and lewd and libidinous practices against three young girls.

No proceedings shall be taken in this case
Crown Office
Four of the men lived on the island while the others, including a 75-year-old woman, came from different parts of England.

A number of children, believed to range from a few months old to primary school age, were taken into care.

As the case continued, a feeling of anger on the island increased with one local councillor appealing for calm when one house had its windows broken and paint daubed on it.

People thanked

A statement from Northern Constabulary said that the force, along with the local council, recognised it had been a difficult time for the island's people.

Western Isles Council said that its aim in assisting the police had been the welfare and interests of children in the islands.

It thanked communities for the "dignified" way in which they responded and their "respect for due process".

A statement from the Crown Office said: "Following a thorough investigation by the procurator fiscal and careful consideration of all the available evidence, Crown counsel instructed no proceedings be taken in this case.

"The procurator fiscal has been in contact with the local social work department and the children's reporter to ensure all relevant information is provided to those authorities responsible for ongoing care of the children."

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