By ANDY DOLAN
UPDATED: 11:12 EST, 22 December 2008
A couple who had their children taken away from them for two years after falsely being accused of sexual abuse have been awarded a six-figure compensation payout.
Tim and Gina Williams went through a 'total nightmare' of having their three young children placed in separate foster homes after being wrongly placed under suspicion by social workers.
The couple's ordeal began after Mr Williams discovered an 11-year-old boy, semi naked and on top of his daughter, Courtney, then aged five, following a neighbourhood paddling pool party staged at their house.
Mr Williams called police, but a medical examination carried out as part of the subsequent examination resulted in social services stepping in.
Tim Williams and his wife Gina with their children Ieuan (left) Courtney (middle) and Zara (right). The couple have been awarded sizeable compensation after they were wrongly accused of failing to protect their three children from sexual abuse
A doctor who examined the child claimed she had been the victim of abuse by an adult, possibly using an implement.
As a result, social services judged Mrs Williams to also pose a potential risk to Courtney and her elder siblings Zara and Ieuan, and the children were taken away in August 2004. Their parents were allowed just two 90-minutes supervised visits per week, at a neutral venue.
The family, from Newport, South Wales, were reunited two years ago after a High Court judge exonerated the parents, who then began a compensation battle against Newport City Council and Royal Gwent Healthcare NHS Trust.
They were yesterday awarded an undisclosed sum in an agreed settlement at the High Court in Cardiff.
The Williams family also received a full written apology from Newport Council. Under the terms of the settlement, the Williams's are banned from commenting further on the case. But they have previously spoken about the devastating impact the separation caused their children.
Speaking last December, they said Zara, now 14, Ieuan, 11, and Courtney, aged nine, were like 'three little strangers' at times.
Zara had always been studious but was increasingly disruptive in class, whilst Ieuan's sensitive, quiet inclination had been replaced by an angry persona. Courtney was left too scared to go to sleep in case she woke to find her parents gone.
Mrs Williams, said: 'None can bear to have us out of their sight because they think we won't come back. They believe they were taken into care because we didn't love or want them any more.'
Mr Williams, now 39, added: 'All three are extra clingy and constantly fight for our attention.
'If they don't see us at the school gates the moment the bell rings they freak out, so we have to get there 10 minutes early and stand in exactly the same spot. We take them everywhere with us because they refuse to go to babysitters. But whenever we see the children angry or in tears, we have to remember that it's not their fault.
'They were ripped from us and still don't understand why. One minute we were a family, the next thing we know social services are taking the children away. It was a total nightmare.'
The couple were banned from discussing the ongoing investigation with their children. When the day came for them to be handed over to social services, they told the trio they were going on a little holiday.
As they walked out of the social services office, they heard their children screaming 'Mummy! Daddy!'.
Over the next two years, they missed milestones such as birthdays, learning to ride bikes and school plays, and two Christmases.
The case against the parents eventually collapsed a week before a final court hearing, after the family consulted an American doctor who found there was no suggestion of any sexual abuse.
A UK doctor gave a second opinion which agreed with the US medic. The original doctor who examined Courtney then accepted their findings.
Newport council asked for the case to be dropped and the children were returned to their parents in September 2006.
The High Court was told at the time that initial evidence against the family was collected by a doctor using outdated practices to examine the girl.
The council later apologised for removing the children but said it had 'acted in good faith.'
In his judgment two years ago, Judge Crispin Masterman criticised social services for failing to follow recommended procedures and not carrying out a proper assessment of the family.
Speaking after the financial settlement yesterday, the couple's QC Robin Tolson said: 'This settlement brings closure, at least of a kind, for Tim and Gina Williams and their children.
'The effect of what happened will continue to be felt for a long time.
'But at least this now marks the end of four years spent fighting for their children and their rights before the court.'
A spokesman for the couple's legal team said that an initial report from the NHS Trust which claimed that Courtney was being abused had been 'fundamentally flawed'.