23 JULY 1988, Page 20

Child abuse

Sir: The point that Alexandra Artley com- pletely misses (Letters, 16 July), whilst riding her 'children's rights' hobby-horse, is that in Cleveland, as in Leeds, the children were indeed not listened to as they pro- tested time and again that they had not been abused. They were instead badgered


and bullied into accusing their fathers of abuse where none had occurred. 'Some- thing must have happened to you, the doctor says so.' Neither for that matter were the parents listened to as they pro- tested their innocence.

In her denigration of the support Stuart Bell MP gave to his constituents she has conveniently overlooked the central fact, that of 121 children torn from their parents because Cleveland social workers and doc- tors wanted to believe them victims of sexual abuse, 98 have already been re- turned by courts to what remains of their distraught families. The only thing Alexan- dra Artley seems to consider of importance is that just one father joined the campaign to cover up his career as an abuser, and was then rightly exposed.

This would not be the moment to re- hearse the appalling consequences of the Cleveland and Leeds injustices, but all of them demonstrate that tearing a child from a family is child abuse in itself. I find myself drawn to the view that something Peculiarly evil happened in Cleveland, and is still happening in Leeds, and that at the root of this evil is the feminist ideology that devalues the family as a place of nurture and care for children, and which sees all men as abusers.

Graham Webster-Gardiner

Conservative Family Campaign, 45 West Hill Avenue,

Epsom, Surrey