Norfolk 'paedophile ring' case: Police 'investigating social workers'

All 10 defendants
Image caption The defendants, including Marie Black (top left) and Jason Adams (bottom left) deny sexual abuse of children

Police have been investigating the conduct of social workers involved in the case of an alleged paedophile ring, a court has heard.

Six women and four men deny playing any part in the sexual abuse in Norfolk.

The abuse is said to have been carried out against two boys and three girls in and around Norwich and London.

Norwich Crown Court was told two social workers working for Norfolk County Council were alleged to have "tidied up" documents.

Prosecutor Angela Rafferty QC told the court the children were "sexually and physically abused and neglected... in the early parts of their lives".

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Image caption Prosecutor Angela Rafferty QC said the defendants showed a veneer of respectability

Marie Black, 34, from Norwich, denies 26 offences, including four counts of rape and two of conspiracy to rape.

She also denies charges including neglect and ill-treatment, sexually assaulting children under 13, conspiracy to cause children to watch sexual acts and causing child pornography.

Nine others are accused of offences including rape, child cruelty, causing children under 13 to engage in sexual activity and sexual assault.

They are Michael Rogers, 53, from Romford; and Jason Adams, 43, Carol Stadler, 59, Anthony Stadler, 63, Nicola Collins, 36, Andrew Collins, 52, Judith Fuller, 31, Denise Barnes, 43, and Kathleen Adams, 84, all from Norwich.

All deny all charges, except Mr Adams, who admits four of five child cruelty charges against him.

Image caption The 10 defendants deny any part in the sexual abuse in Norfolk involving five children

Gail Barnard, a senior social worker with Norfolk County Council, told the court the children had described being abused at sex parties and rewarded with certificates carrying slogans such as "secrets are good" and "do not tell anyone".

However, the court heard the trial had originally been due to start last year only to be delayed when prosecutors raised concerns over changes made by social workers to statements taken from the children. This resulted in Norfolk Police launching an investigation into alleged misconduct.

Miss Barnard denied the claim she told another social worker Malcolm Blissett to "tidy up" documents by removing leading questions.

The court heard the children had alleged they were abused hundreds of times but in 2010 police closed the case saying the number of allegations made a police prosecution implausible.

Image caption Social worker Gail Barnard said she regretted carrying out her own inquiries

At about the same time, jurors were told, Miss Barnard became a patient of a chiropractor allegedly involved in the abuse and discussed the case during treatment.

The court heard Miss Barnard failed to tell police she was a patient of the chiropractor and the social worker was asked by Sarah Elliott QC, representing Ms Black, if she had carried out her "own investigation".

Miss Barnard replied: "I wouldn't call it investigating but I did make inquiries."

Ms Elliott asked Miss Barnard if she had been aware of the Orkney, Cleveland and Rochdale satanic abuse scandals in the 1990s that saw children wrongly removed from their families. Miss Barnard replied: "Yes."

These cases brought about major changes in social work practices, including the way in which children should be questioned about abuse.

The case continues.

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