Care Workers Jailed for Child Abuse Could Be Freed after Judges Quash Convictions
Robert Verkaik Legal Affairs Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
HUNDREDS OF care workers may have been wrongly imprisoned for child abuse it was claimed yesterday after two convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal.
Basil Williams-Rigby, 57, who was released at the Royal Courts of Justice in London after serving three years of his original 12-year prison sentence for alleged child abuse, said that he hoped he was the first of many to be freed.
He said: "There are hundreds of innocent men in prison just like me ... I think that the judges are seeing things differently now."
Mr Williams-Rigby, whose 12-year sentence at Liverpool Crown Court in August 1999 was later reduced to 10, and Michael Lawson, 62, who was jailed separately for seven years in June 2000, were both present in the dock when they heard the judge order their release.
Both care workers, who had worked at the same approved school, were arrested by Merseyside Police as part of Operation Care, one of the largest inquiries into allegations of abuse in children's homes across five local authorities in the 1970s and 1980s.
Yesterday's cases follow the acquittal two years ago of David Jones, the former Southampton Football Club manager, who was wrongly accused of child abuse after being arrested by officers working on the same inquiry.
During the appeal by Mr Williams-Rigby and Mr Lawson, their lawyers claimed the men were convicted on uncorroborated evidence of complainants, some of whom may have been motivated by possible compensation payouts.
Lord Justice Kennedy, Mr Justice Crane and Mr Justice McCombe ruled their convictions "unsafe".
In a statement, one of the men's supporters …
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Publication information: Article title: Care Workers Jailed for Child Abuse Could Be Freed after Judges Quash Convictions. Contributors: Robert Verkaik Legal Affairs Correspondent - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: March 15, 2003. Page number: 2. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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