WHITEWASH; Social Workers Who Left Woman with Sadists Escape Carpeting

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), May 21, 2003 | Go to article overview

WHITEWASH; Social Workers Who Left Woman with Sadists Escape Carpeting


Byline: ROBERT FAIRBURN EXCLUSIVE

SOCIAL workers who failed to stop three sadists sexually abusing a woman with learning difficulties will escape disciplinary action.

Miss X suffered more than 70 injuries during months of torture - even although council workers had been warned she was in danger.

But an independent inquiry ruled no one was to blame for the blunders that left her open to horrific abuse by her carer.

Author Anne Black said taking staff to task would prolong the case and she preferred to change the council's system.

Scottish Borders Council yesterday denied there had been a whitewash, but South of Scotland MSP Christine Grahame described the situation as "wholly unacceptable".

James Mercer, 36, Alexander Maben, 40, and Ross Douglas, 27, were jailed for a total of 24 years last August at the High Court in Edinburgh for torturing the 30- year-old at a house in Newtown St Boswells, Roxburghshire.

But it has been claimed Miss X's ordeal could have been halted if concerns raised by her social worker Clive Purnis had been followed up by his bosses.

The MSP said: "Claims by Miss Black that disciplinary action would extend the period of the investigation don't wash with me.

"Here is a case of a young woman who was subjected to months of appalling abuse.

"It is quite unbelievable that the council are happy to draw a line under this and move on.

"It is wholly unsatisfactory that senior management within social work will simply have their fingers rapped and are allowed to keep their jobs. How can members of the public and grassroots social workers have confidence in these people?"

The council said measures were being introduced to ensure there could be no repeat of the errors made.

The report's author, a social work consultant, was asked to investigate whether disciplinary action should be taken against individual staff members. …

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