Saturday, September 18, 2010

Apology given over false rape claim

Finally, for a bit of good news.

QUEENSLAND'S Child Safety Minister Phil Reeves has apologised in Parliament for his department wrongly accusing a grandfather of rape and incest.

The apology came after The Australian published a story about the Queensland Department of Child Safety refusing for 18 months to correct a file that falsely accused the 64-year-old man from Toowoomba of being a rapist, and who was jailed for fathering his own grandchild.

The paper said the department still refused to believe him even after he presented a certificate from the police service saying he did not have a criminal record and a DNA blood test showing he was not the father of his granddaughter.

Mr Reeves told Parliament he was sorry about the department's mistake.

"For the stress and offence that this mistake has caused to all members of this family, I sincerely apologise," he said.

"While Child Safety is a very difficult and stressful environment for officers, this should never have happened and there is no excuse.

"As a result, I unreservedly apologise for the grief this mistake has caused."

He said the acting director-general had spoken to and apologised to the man.

But the Queensland Opposition says the Government only made moves to rectify the situation after it appeared in the media.

LNP child safety spokesman Jack Dempsey said the situation was appalling.

"This minister responds more to what's in the media ..." Mr Dempsey said.

"This issue was created over 18 months ago but when a media outlet contacts the department three hours later they get an answer."

Mr Reeves said he asked the department to review the case to ensure that there are no other documents incorrectly attached to the man's file.

"I have also asked for a review of the complaints process," he said.