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  Home :: 2006 December :: Fight to right legal bungle,23739,20975868-3102,00.html

Fight to right legal bungle

By MargaretWenham

December 26, 2006 11:00pm

Article from: The Courier-Mail

A WOMAN who lost her job after her husband was wrongly accused ofchild sex abuse says she will continue to fight for justice despite waitingnearly a decade for the Beattie Government to act on recommendations she becompensated.

The former family day care carer and mother of threehas spent $117,000 on legal costs and faces losing her family home.

But she wants to be compensated for the loss of her carer's registration andfor the pain and suffering caused to her and her husband.

The woman said she wanted to know why the Government would not implement theOmbudsman's compensation recommendations.

"Justice will prevail. It must," she said.

The Courier-Mail first wrote about the woman's plight in1998, when it reported the former Families Department had illegally shreddedchild abuse investigation documents, after her husband had been wrongly swept upin abuse allegations involving a child she was looking after.

Opposition Leader Jeff Seeney said the family deserved better treatment.

"It's hard to imagine why the Government has not acted on the Ombudsman'srecommendations," he said.

"There is a case to be looked at here to ensure justice is done."

Her fight for justice has involved some of the state's most seniorbureaucrats and politicians, including Peter Beattie who, in September 1998, asfledgling Premier, declared himself an "honest broker" in ensuring a "speedyresolution" of the matter.

Deputy Premier Anna Bligh also was involved as then families minister.

After a 3 1/2-year investigation, former ombudsman Fred Albeitz found "therewere severe deficiencies in the management of the case" by the FamiliesDepartment.

Then departmental director-general Allan Male accepted the agency shouldenter into "meaningful negotiations ... to achieve an acceptable compensationpackage".

The woman later received an "unreserved" written apology from Mr Male'ssuccessor, Ken Smith. But the woman said little or no negotiations eventuatedand, after her lawyers activated a Supreme Court writ which they advised wasnecessary to protect her legal right to claim damages, she was "frozen out".

The woman's Supreme Court application seeking leave to proceed with her casewas unsuccessful, as was a 2003 appeal, with the State Government engaging Queenand Senior counsels to fight the case.

The woman said she was continuing to pursue the matter with Linda Apelt, theDirector-General of the new Communities Department, which has taken over the oldFamilies Department files.


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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia