Social worker involved in Liam Fee case labelled ‘erratic’ by boss

The brutal injuries inflicted on tragic tot Liam Fee (2) prompted a significant case review. Pic: Press Association

The brutal injuries inflicted on tragic tot Liam Fee (2) prompted a significant case review. Pic: Press Association

A social worker involved in the care of Fife toddler Liam Fee was today (Monday) branded “disorganised”, “chaotic” and “the most erratic person I have worked with” by her boss at a probe into her conduct.

Lesley Bate, who worked for Fife Council’s child protection team in Glenrothes, is due to appear at a tribunal in Dundee next week.

She is accused of professional misconduct in cases involving 16 children.

She faces a succession of charges over her role as a social worker with Fife Council between December 2011 and August 2014.

Bate – who has chosen not to appear before the Scottish Social Services Council conduct sub-committee investigating the allegations – was a member of the Glenrothes Child Protection Team which managed Liam Fee’s case.

Liam was murdered by his mother and her civil partner at their home in Fife in March 2014.

One charge against Bate is that she failed to follow up concerns raised by a childminder about a one-year-old boy, labelled FF in anonymised SSSC documents.

It alleges that despite the carer raising concerns on January 15, 2013, “regarding bruising to the face” of the baby – and the next month that “he had a sore neck” – Bate did not act.

During the murder trial of Rachel and Nyomi Fee, childminder Heather Farmer told the court she contacted the Scottish Childminding Association in January 2013 after he turned up with scratches and bruises to his face.

In a separate incident, she raised concerns about the toddler’s neck after he was dropped off at her home on February 18, 2013.

The hearing today was told that Bate’s manager following Liam’s death had “serious questions about her assessment of risk”.

Bate faces a total of 13 charges relating to 16 different children – including several allegations that she “failed to take necessary steps to minimise actual or potential risk of harm” for those kids.

Today the SSSC conduct sub-committee heard that in the months following Liam’s death 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 there, James Ross, told the hearing how he had tried to “help and support” Bate on her return – but that her work had been “poor”.

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

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

In another case involving concerns of neglect over kids the hearing was told she failed to undertake planned weekly visits with the express aim of “keeping children safe” – claiming she had simply “forgot”.

And in another she 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.

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.

“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.”

According to reports, Bate was also involved with the welfare of Mikaeel Kular, who was also murdered by his mother, Rosdeep Adekoya.

The three year-old’s body was found in a suitcase buried in a wood in Kirkcaldy in January 2014.

However, it is unclear whether any of the charges relate to Mikaeel’s case.

The list does include Bate failing to properly assess sex abuse claims involving a girl aged three and also failed to make contact with the family of a six-year-old boy who alleged he was being sexually abused,

She is accused of not minimising the risk of harm to children, not maintaining accurate records and disobeying management instructions.

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

She is due to appear before the Scottish Social Services Council in Dundee on Monday and the hearing is expected to run until Friday.