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BBC wins removed children ruling

Jan. 11, 2006 • Thursday January 12, 2006

The BBC has successfully challenged an injunction blocking a programme about a group of children taken from families wrongly suspected of Satanic rituals.

Sixteen children in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, were put into care in June 1990 by social services.

The courts later decided allegations of devil worship and sex abuse were false.

Ten children are suing Rochdale Council for compensation and an apology. BBC One’s Real Story is to show interviews with some of the children, now adults.

The children were kept in care for months without any contact with their parents.

The courts in 1991 decided the allegations were false, but an injunction prevented the children speaking about the case.

Rochdale Council has pointed out that it did apologise at the time, and has criticised the making of the programme.

‘Clear our names’

One of the children, known as David and now an adult, told Radio 4′s Today programme: “I’m really angry. I don’t think I ever could recover… it’s always going to be there – always.

“There was a time, as a parent myself now, it was making me paranoid of how I’m treating my son and would anything similar happen.”

He added: “It’s our chance now to clear our names, to tell everyone that nothing happened and it really was all just social services acting off impulse, you know what I mean, there was nothing founded about it.”

BBC lawyer David Attfield told Today that the injunction had prevented the naming of social workers to avoid identification by association of the families.

“One of the things we had to argue in court, was that now that the families are willing to talk out and want to talk out they should be allowed to and the rationale for withholding the identities of those social workers fell away,” he said.

Real Story has obtained video evidence taken at the time of the interviews with the children.

Real Story: When Satan Came to Town is broadcast on BBC One on Wednesday 11 January at 2100 GMT.

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