Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

No child protection action taken over Liam Fee bruises

Liam fee
Image caption Liam Fee was murdered by his mother and her partner in March 2014

Murdered toddler Liam Fee's social worker decided child protection workers should not intervene after he was found badly bruised, a hearing has heard.

Lesley Bate visited the boy's home but accepted his mother's explanation that he had fallen from his cot.

Ms Bate suggested that a health visitor should be contacted but recommended no further social work involvement.

Two-year-old Liam was later murdered by his mother and her partner at their home in Thornton, Fife, in March 2014.

Ms Bate is facing a number of conduct charges relating to her work as a social worker for Fife Council, two of which involve Liam Fee.

The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) conduct sub-committee was told a childminder had raised concerns in January 2013 about unexplained bruises.

Liam appeared "unsteady on his feet with bruising on his back. He also had a black eye," the hearing was told.

On another occasion the childminder reported that Liam had a "massive bruise" on his forehead and bruising on both legs.

Image caption A childminder raised concerns about Liam's bruises more than a year before his death

The case was allocated to Ms Bate, who conducted an initial joint investigation with a police officer.

However, she found the mother's explanation that he had fallen from his cot to be "plausible".

Tracey Burke, an official who investigated Ms Bate's conduct while she was with the Child Protection Team, said the childminder raised concerns again, when Liam complained of a sore neck.

Ms Bate had been asked to gain more information but Miss Burke said she was unable to find any note on the department's computer system to suggest this follow-up was carried out.

Miss Burke said there were a number of other cases involving allegations of physical or sexual abuse of children, where Ms Bate had failed to record information.

Asked whether Ms Bate had a higher workload than other social workers, she said it did not appear excessive.

The hearing continues at the SSSC headquarters in Dundee.

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