Dr Camille De San Lazaro admits abuse claims were exaggerated
A leading expert admitted she “overstated and exaggerated” medical report accounts of sexual abuse which were later proved false in a major North-East case, a medical tribunal was told yesterday.Dr Camille De San Lazaro, a consultant paediatrician and senior lecturer at Newcastle University, appeared before the General Medical Council in Manchester to answer a charge of serious professional misconduct.The doctor, who received an OBE in 1999 for services in the care of sexually-abused children, denied a charge of serious professional misconduct at the fitness to practice hearing yesterday.Dr Lazaro could be struck off if found guilty over the charge which centres on one of the biggest cases of its kind in the region. The GMC panel was told it was following examinations carried out by Dr Lazaro on six children, that nursery nurses Dawn Reed and Christopher Lillie were charged with child sex abuse.But all charges against them were dropped after a judge rejected the admission of video footage and the Crown Prosecution Service offered no further evidence, the panel heard. DrLazaro began work as a forensic paediatrician at the Lindisfarne Centre in the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle in 1989 following the Cleveland sex abuse inquiry. This was the first post of its kind in the country.Yesterday, the first day of the hearing in Manchester, which could last up to two weeks, was told she examined 53 children at nursery in Newcastle during 1993 and 1994 following claims of sex abuse.But following the collapse of the criminal case against the two nurses, Newcastle City Council launched a review of the abuse allegations.The Review Team’s Report was published in November 1998 and subsequently the two nursery nurses successfully sued the council for libel and were each awarded £200,000 in damages.Under cross-examination in the libel trial, Dr Lazaro admitted a series of errors in medical reports and notes, the hearing was told.The GMC panel also heard Dr Lazaro had accepted in the trial that the report she had written was in support of parents claiming criminal injuries compensation was “overstated, exaggerated and emotive”.She also admitted during the libel trial in 2002 there were inconsistencies between her medical notes and reports, the hearing was told.Opening the case for the prosecution Jane Sullivan said: “Whatever Dr Lazaro may or may not have seen when she examined the child, her records were such as to undermine the reliability of what she had to say.”Ms Sullivan quoted extracts from Dr Lazaro’s testimony in the libel trial in which she described her report as having “frank errors” and admitting there could have been more clarity.The hearing continues.