Independent inquiry into Scottish Borders Council's handling of assault claims against primary school teacher is delayed, councillors told today

An independent inquiry into Scottish Borders Council’s probe into the actions of a primary school teacher later convicted of assaulting five pupils has been delayed.

Andrew Webster QC.
Andrew Webster QC.

Linda McCall was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in July after being found guilty of assaulting the pupils over a 14-month period at the Tweeddale Support Unit in Peebles.

McCall, from Earlston, was initially cleared of any wrong-doing by Scottish Borders Council, which subsequently launched an inquiry into its handling of the case amid claims of a ‘cover up’.

In June, top QC Andrew Webster was appointed to lead the inquiry, with the hope the results would be available to present to a meeting of Scottish Borders Council today, Thursday, September 23.

But at the meeting Netta Meadows, the council’s chief executive, revealed the findings may not now be available until November’s full council meeting.

She said: “My desire was to have the report completed by September but that would depend on Mr Webster's progress. I can confirm that the investigation is still ongoing.

“Mr Webster has advised that things have taken longer than anticipated, partly due to the volume of papers involved and the inevitable disturbances caused by summer annual leave, obviously this is partly an educational matter.

“He has indicated to me that he is aiming to provide his report by the end of October, but that will depend on the availability of individuals who are key to the investigation with whom he is yet to meet.

"My understanding is that letters have gone out and meetings have happened but there are a number of people he still has to meet.

“I expect it will be very close to, or indeed after, next month's council meeting that I will receive the report but I hope to present the findings of the report to November's meeting of the council.”

All the pupils involved had additional needs and were aged between five and seven at the time of the assaults in 2016 and 2017.

Mr Webster is vastly experiences in commercial, public and regulatory work, civil liberties and human rights challenges, property and planning law.