Liam Fee social worker is found guilty of misconduct

Undated family file handout photo issued by Police Scotland of two-year-old Liam Fee
Undated family file handout photo issued by Police Scotland of two-year-old Liam Fee
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A SOCIAL worker who was involved in the case of murdered toddler Liam Fee has been found guilty of misconduct.

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’s, the panel found her failings amounted to neglect of the children.

The hearing held by the professional watchdog had heard Mrs Bate’s work was “disorganised and chaotic”.

Panel members were told the social worker showed “no regard for vulnerable groups” and how she 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 of its kind over a sustained period of time.

Mrs Bate, 60, who had denied all the charges, did not appear before the sub-committee, which heard she has relinquished her social work registration.

Liam Fee’s mother Rachel Trelfa, 31, and her civil partner Nyomi Fee, 29, were found guilty of murdering Liam at a house near Glenrothes in Fife on March 22, 2014.

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

The hearing heard Liam’s childminder had first raised concerns with Fife social workers in January 2013 after seeing a large bruise on the toddler’s forehead.

Mrs Bate visited Liam’s mother and accepted her version of events – that her son had fallen out of his cot. The sub-committee heard Mrs Bate recommended no further involvement by social work. She was accused of failing 15 other children over a 33-month period between December 2011 and August 2014.

Responding to the findings, Fife Council issued a statement which said: “We welcome the findings of the tribunal. We would reassure that the practice highlighted in this case is historic in nature and was dealt with robustly at the time.

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

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 Tyne and Wear, denied killing Liam, and instead blamed his death on another young boy.

The hearing heard Liam’s childminder, Heather Farmer, first raised concerns with Fife social workers in January 2013, when she saw the toddler had injuries including a big 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.

Mrs Bate visited Liam’s home after the first injury as part of Fife Council’s child protection team based in Glenrothes. The SSSC will now consider what sanctions to impose.