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Parents of children who suffered sexual abuse at a Newcastle upon Tyne nursery are planning to sue the city council...
Parents of children who suffered sexual abuse at a Newcastle upon Tyne nursery are planning to sue the city council after an independent report outlined a string of failures by the authority, The Guardian reports (p1).

A three-year investigation followed the collapse of a child abuse trial involving two nursery nurses. The inquiry team said toddlers had been taken away from the nursery for short periods - and it hinted broadly that a paedophile ring was in operation.

With 64 children affected by abuse at the Shieldfield nursery and 434 formal complaints made against the council's social services department, 27 families prepresented by one solicitor plan to pursue compensation claims for all children affected.

Action will be taken against the council for alleged negligence in the management and procedures at the nursery.

The Mirror reports (p17) that two other unnamed staff members have been suspended.

Council leader Tony Flynn said a quick response would be made to parents, who have been offered advice and support through a care line, once the report had been fully studied.

He told the paper: 'There are lessons to be learned by everyone concerned with child protection.'

Meanwhile, The Independent reports (p3) criticism in the report of Local Government Association chairman Jeremy Beecham whose Newcastle law firm represented one of the nursery nurses. One of the report's 75 recommendations was that legal firms involving elected councillors should not accept cases which involve action against council employees over their work.

In a statement issued yesterday Sir Jeremy expressed 'profound sympathy' for the abused children and their families. He repeated he had 'no connection with these appalling events. People in public life are particularly vulnerable to allegations made without any foundation in fact, as the inquiry team acknowledges.'

- `Abuse in Early Years' the report of the independent inquiry into Shieldfield nursery and related events is available on request from: Ian Poll, head of democractic services, Newcastle City Council. Tel 0191 232 8520 ext 5159.

- LGCnet has copies available on request of both cllr Flynn's and the review team's statements to yesterday's press conference. Tel 0171 833 7324/5.

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