Don’t point-score over Liam Fee’s murder, says First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
The National, by Andrew Learmonth
Nicola Sturgeon has warned other politicians against making political points from the murder of Liam Fee and promised to take personal responsibility to learn any lessons from the failures around the two-year-old’s death.
Speaking to the BBC, the First Minister said while there needed to be debates around the Government’s controversial named person plans, politicians needed to be cautious about linking that policy to the brutal killing of Liam by his mother Rachel and her partner Nyomi Fee.
There has been confusion over whether or not Liam had a named person. Fife was one of the pilot areas for the scheme, which was being rolled out across the region incrementally. Fife Council have said confidentiality means they cannot say whether or not the boy had been one of those included in the pilot.
On Tuesday night, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said on Twitter that Liam did have a named person. The Daily Mail has also supported that claim, going on to say that the adult responsible for the boy was a health worker.
Yesterday, neither Fife Council or the First Minister would confirm or deny if Liam had a named person or not.
Sturgeon told the BBC: “While there are debates to be had about the substance of our child protection legislation and about the named person policy, and I respect the different views that there are on these things, I really do think all politicians should be cautious about trying to make political points about the kind of tragedy we have seen in this case.
“So there will be lessons undoubtedly to be learned from the Liam Fee case, but it’s right we learn them in the proper case of events.”
She then told Radio Clyde that she would take responsibility to make sure lessons were learned: “My personal reaction is the same as the reaction of every right-thinking human being across the country – just one of shock, horror and revulsion, and also just an overwhelming feeling of sadness that this wee boy in his young life suffered in the way in which he clearly did.
“I want the same as everybody wants, to make sure that all the lessons that need to be learned in the case are learned and applied in the future. What makes it different for me is that I’m First Minister and I have responsibility to make sure that these lessons are learned.”
Asked specifically about the named person policy she said: “The named person scheme is an attempt to reduce the likelihood of anyone falling through the net.”
Liam was killed by his mother Rachel and Nyomi Fee in March 2014. The two adults were found guilty on ten charges, including neglect, on Tuesday afternoon.
In the seven week trial, a number of witnesses, including Liam’s nursery, his child minder, and a neighbour told how they contacted social services.
Patricia Smith who lived near the family told BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that she felt her call to Fife’s child protection teams served little purpose.
She said: “They told me that they would send a health visitor round, but the feeling I got after that call was that I shouldn’t have bothered. I personally felt like they were maybe getting quite a few calls about them and this one was just another one on the list that was creating them more work.”
One senior social worker told the court that Liam had fallen “off the radar”, after the person dealing with the case went off sick.
A significant case review has been set up to review all the circumstances leading up to Liam’s death.
The two killers will be sentenced in July.