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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 October 2006, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Family reunited after abuse error
Tim Williams
Tim Williams said separation from his children was 'devastating'
A couple wrongly accused of child abuse have been reunited with their three children after they were put into care.

Gina and Tim Williams were wrongly accused of failing to protect their children from sexual abuse.

But a court judgement found there was no abuse and insufficient grounds to seperate the family who now plan to take legal action.

Meanwhile, Newport Council said it regrets what has happened but stresses it had acted in good faith.

The case against them collapsed after a medical expert from America said there had been no sexual abuse.

Cardiff Civil Justice Court heard how in May 2004, the father of the girl went upstairs to see the 11-year-old boy lying on top of his five-year-old daughter. Both had no clothes on their bottom halves.

The police were called and the child was then medically examined.

But the court heard on Tuesday that the doctor was using dated practices to examine the girl and also took just one photograph to support her diagnoses that the child had been "chronically abused".

The effect of the separation on myself, my wife and my children's lives has been devastating
Tim Williams

The boy was interviewed by police and denied the allegations - and it has since been decided that what went on between the boy and the girl was non-criminal.

The court heard that social services decided the parents were failing to protect the children from abuse and they were placed in care in August 2004.

In his judgement, Judge Crispin Masterman criticised the local authority for failing to follow recommended procedures.

This has been a miscarriage of justice from beginning to end
Solicitor Jessica Good

He said they failed to provide a child protection conference, and that parents were excluded from meetings.

A court hearing scheduled for May 2005 to determine if there had been abuse, and if so by whom, was delayed until September 2006.

Further medical examinations of the girl carried out based on the original notes of the initial examination, concluded the intitial opinions were wrong and on the advice of Dr Astrid Heppenstall-Hegar, a leading US-based child sex abuse expert, a further examination should be carried out.

This showed there was no signs whatsoever to suggest sexually abuse.

The hearing was told that in light of this evidence, Newport Council asked for the case to be dropped and the children were returned to their parents.

The judge said he had continued with the case to "publicly exonerate those on whom suspicion had unfairly rested" and to find out why the initial medical diagnoses was wrong.

He criticised British medical procedures calling for them to be altered.

He said Dr Heger, the American expert, believed "the UK should either be giving more weight to the US evidence or doing research of its own".

The local authority deeply regrets the removal of these children from their parents and home and we are already carrying out a full and detailed internal review to ensure that any lessons can be learned and fully taken on board
Newport Council

The judge added that the tenacity of the parents and their legal team had prevented "an even more serious miscarriage of justice that has already occurred".

Speaking after the judgement, Mr Williams said the family have been the victim of a "whispering campaign" and that he had been falsely accused within his local community of being a paedophile.

"Both myself and my wife have been completely cleared of any abuse," he said.

"The effect of the separation on myself, my wife and my children's lives has been devastating.

"I cannot tell you the worry and fear you go through when your children are taken away."

His solicitor Jessica Good said: "This has been a miscarriage of justice from beginning to end."

She added: "The family will be pursuing civil action against the council and possibly the health trust. He's made it clear it's more for the children than him."

In a statement, Newport Council said the judge concluded that they "acted in good faith given the strength of the evidence presented to it from three medical specialists".

It continued: "The local authority deeply regrets the removal of these children from their parents and home and we are already carrying out a full and detailed internal review to ensure that any lessons can be learned and fully taken on board."




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