May 31, 2005

Eleven years ago, former nursery nurse Dawn Reed was cleared of sex abuse charges. But, she tells Cassandra Jardine, the scars remainDawn Reed has spent many of the past 12 years in hiding – all because of false allegations of sexual abuse and claims that she led a paedophile ring. The hysteria surrounding two nursery nurses in Shieldfield, Newcastle, was the great sexual abuse scandal of the Nineties. Following accusations made by a paediatrician, Dr Camille de San Lazaro, there was a witch hunt similar to those in Rochdale, Nottingham and the Orkneys. “Whenever I am reminded of it, I get flashbacks of absolute panic,” says Reed. Eleven years ago, she was cleared in court of molesting children and, two years ago, she and her colleague, Chris Lillie, won a libel action clearing their names, at which they were awarded £200,000 apiece – the maximum – by the judge who wanted to make it clear that they were innocent. Dawn hoped then never to speak of it again, but the results of a General Medical Council hearing this month into the professional conduct of Dr Lazaro have distressed her so deeply that she feels she must respond. Dr Lazaro, a consultant paediatrician at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, admitted that her report into allegations of sexual abuse was “overstated, exaggerated and emotive”. At the end of the three-week hearing, the GMC concluded that her conduct fell short of that expected from a registered medical practitioner, but found her not guilty of serious professional misconduct….


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