Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Liam Fee case worker 'disorganised and chaotic'

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

A senior social worker has told a hearing that a colleague involved in the case of murdered Fife toddler Liam Fee was "disorganised and chaotic".

Lesley Bate faces 13 charges over her role as a social worker with Fife Council between 2011 and 2014.

Mrs Bate has chosen not to appear before the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) conduct sub-committee.

She was a member of the Glenrothes Child Protection Team who managed Liam Fee's case.

Two-year-old Liam was murdered by his mother and her partner at their home in Thornton, Fife, in March 2014.

It is alleged Mrs Bate failed to follow up referrals more than a year earlier about bruising to Liam's face and a sore neck.

'Forgot' visits

The charges against Mrs Bate relate to 16 different children, including several allegations that she "failed to take necessary steps to minimise actual or potential risk of harm" for them.

The committee heard that in the months following Liam's death, Mrs Bate had been under a disciplinary investigation and had been off sick.

When she returned she was moved to the Children and Families Team based in Dunfermline.

Her manager James Ross told the hearing he had tried to "help and support" Mrs Bate on her return, but that her work had been "poor".

Image copyright Google
Image caption The hearing is taking place at the SSSC headquarters in Dundee

Mr Ross said she was given a case to handle in which the father of an unborn child had been charged with 21 offences of domestic and sexual violence against women.

However, Mrs Bate neglected to mention that in a report going before an Initial Child Protection Case Conference.

In another case involving concerns of neglect over children, the hearing was told she failed to undertake planned weekly visits with the express aim of "keeping children safe", claiming she "forgot".

In a further case, Mrs Bate dropped a letter outside her office building containing "the most sensitive information possible" about children she was working with - a document later found in the street by a neighbour.

'Very disorganised'

Mr Ross said: "There had been a lengthy investigation into Lesley's work before she came to my team.

"That had concluded she be given an opportunity to practise elsewhere in the service.

"She was probably the most erratic person I have worked with.

"She was fine when there was no work to be undertaken - but the minute anything was required she failed to undertake it."

He added: "She absolutely could not understand risk at that point and I had a real concern about her visiting families and drawing a conclusion about what the information was telling her.

"She was very disorganised and presented chaotically.

"I constantly tidied up for her because I wanted the children to be safe."

The hearing was told that Mrs Bate has relinquished her registration as a social worker with the SSSC but does not admit any of the charges against her.

The hearing continues at the SSSC headquarters in Dundee.

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