Daily Telegraph (England), Aug. 4, 2002
By Daniel Foggo and Adam Lusher
MPs last night expressed outrage at the payment of £360,000 in fees to a council team commissioned to produce a report which wrongly accused two nursery workers of child abuse.
It follows revelations that one of the investigators had previously made false claims about “satanic abuse” during another inquiry.
The team, which consisted of an academic, two social workers and a psychologist, was strongly criticised last week by a High Court judge, who awarded the nursery worker £200,000 each in libel damages.
Anger over the £360,000 payment increased yesterday with the disclosure that Judith Jones, one of the team’s four members, had made similar unsubstantiated allegations several years earlier in Nottingham, where an official report had accused her of conducting a “witch-hunt”.
Dr Liam Fox, the shadow health secretary, said that the revelation raised fresh doubts about the council’s decision to appoint the team, each of whom were paid up to £450 for every day they worked on the report.
“Taxpayers have been forking out money for a report which has been wholly rubbished in court,” he said.
Ms Jones, formerly Judith Dawson, led a team into an alleged sexual abuse case in Nottingham in the 1980s.
Despite the report being condemned, neither Ms Jones nor her colleagues will have to pay a penny towards the libel damages. Her team’s legal costs, estimated at £2 million, will also be paid by the council.