Inquiry into Scottish Borders Council's handling of assault case is delayed

A probe into Scottish Borders Council’s handling of assault claims against a former teacher has been delayed as ‘further lines of inquiry’ are pursued.

By Paul Kelly
Monday, 29th November 2021, 12:27 pm
Updated Monday, 29th November 2021, 12:27 pm

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 by November.

But at full council last week Netta Meadows, the council’s chief executive, revealed the findings will not now be available until February next year.

She said: “Andrew Webster was appointed as the investigator at the start of summer and I reported at the September full council that I had hoped to be in a position to present to you the findings of Andrew’s report at this week’s meeting. Unfortunately, the inquiry is still ongoing.”

In a statement to the council Mr Webster outlined the reasons for the delay.

He said: “Following an initial review of documentation and the identification of areas for investigation I invited various individuals to speak to me. Whilst discussions were unable to be undertaken before October I have now been able to conduct interviews with 28 parents, council employees, former employees and other interested parties.

"The inquiry has also received a number of written representations. The interviews have identified further lines on inquiry which are presently in hand. At present those lines of inquiry suggest that I will need to speak again to certain interviewees and make further investigations into the documentary record.

"Looking forward to those further investigations and the drawing of conclusions, and in anticipation that certain individuals may need to be provided with an opportunity to consider any factual conclusions, I do not consider it feasible that the inquiry can fairly be reported before the end of the year.”