Scots’ law could have protected murdered toddler Liam Fee

Child guardian scheme not in place when toddler was murdered

A scheme aimed at improving child protection had not been put in place “in terms of the legislation” for murdered toddler Liam Fee, the Scottish government has said.

The two-year-old died after being subjected to a catalogue of abuse and neglect at the hands of his mother Rachel Trelfa, 31, and her partner Nyomi Fee, 29, who are now facing life in prison.

Liam was found dead in his home in March 2014.

The family had lived in Fife, where the named person scheme — which will appoint a guardian for every child in the country — has been piloted.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon refused to say on Wednesday if a named person had been appointed in Liam’s case.

However, John Swinney, Scotland’s new education secretary and Ms Sturgeon’s deputy, said: “Fife Council have indicated that Liam Fee did not have a named person in terms of the legislation that parliament has put in place.”

He told BBC Radio Scotland that while “a number of local authorities have been making progress towards some form of named person scheme”, the legislation which ensures the named person “has the ability to ensure that all public authorities are working together on a child’s behalf, was not in place”.

He added: “In Fife, there was a contact point for every child within the system, as Fife Council have explained, but what is crucial about the named person, and this is the key point in this discussion, is that the named person brings with them... the ability to require other public authorities and public bodies to work with them to resolve the issues that are at stake.

“That is a crucial difference and as Fife Council have indicated, that was not in place for Liam Fee as is provided for in the legislation.”

He was speaking as Jackie Brock, chief executive of the charity Children in Scotland, said she cannot understand why concerns about Liam’s welfare had not been listened to after they were raised by his childminder and staff at a nursery he attended.

Ms Brock, who has led a review into how to protect vulnerable youngsters from abuse, said there had not yet been “full blown implementation” of the recommendations she made.

She told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “My report found that the child protection system was basically sound but there were a number of actions that could have been taken forward.”

When asked if those had been taken forward, she added: “I think in certain areas there are aspects being looked at, but overall there isn’t a full blown implementation of my report.”


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