Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Liam Fee social worker Lesley Bate struck off

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

A social worker involved in the case of murdered toddler Liam Fee has been struck off after being found guilty of misconduct by a professional watchdog.

The Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) upheld 12 charges against former Fife social worker Lesley Bate, involving Liam and 14 other children.

In a number of cases, including Liam, the panel found her failings amounted to neglect of the children.

Mrs Bate, 60, had denied all the charges.

The SSSC hearing had heard the social worker was "disorganised and chaotic".

Panel members were told Mrs Bate showed "no regard for vulnerable groups".

She had failed to carry out risk assessments and she had not kept clear and accurate records.

The panel was told the misconduct was of the most serious kind over a sustained period of time.

Mrs Bate chose not to appear before the conduct sub-committee, which heard she had now relinquished her social work registration.

One of the cases involved Liam Fee whose mother Rachel Trelfa, 31, and her civil partner Nyomi Fee, 29, were found guilty of murdering the toddler at a house near Glenrothes in Fife on 22 March 2014.

He had suffered a ruptured heart as a result of severe blunt force trauma to his body.

Knocked unconscious

Rachel Trelfa was ordered to spend a minimum of 23-and-a-half years in jail and Nyomi Fee, a minimum of 24 years.

The couple, originally from Ryton in Tyne and Wear, denied killing Liam, and instead blamed his death on another young boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The hearing heard that Liam's childminder, Heather Farmer, first raised concerns with Fife social workers in January 2013, when she saw the toddler had injuries including a large bruise on his forehead.

Ms Farmer was worried he may have been knocked unconscious. A month later she raised further concerns about a neck injury.

Lesley Bate visited Liam's home after the first injury as part of Fife Council's child protection team based in Glenrothes.

'Chaotic' worker

Liam's mother Rachel Trelfa told her the toddler had fallen out of his cot. The misconduct sub-committee was told Mrs Bate accepted that and recommended no further involvement by social work.

Mrs Bate was accused of failing 15 children over a 33-month period between December 2011 and August 2014, with the charges against her running to five pages.

In a statement, Fife Council said: "While we cannot discuss the details of current or former employees, we would reassure that the practice highlighted in this case is historic in nature and was dealt with robustly at the time.

"The case was first reported by the council to the SSSC over three years ago and this week's hearing is the conclusion of that referral.

"This case does not reflect our current practice or the high standard of professionalism which we expect and receive from our social work staff."

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