AN MSP says an independent inquiry into Scottish Borders Council's handling of complaints against Linda McCall must be "fully transparent to restore public confidence".

Christine Grahame, Holyrood representative for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, called for an independent inquiry after teacher McCall, 60, was found guilty of assaulting pupils.

An internal investigation was previously carried out by the council following complaints from parents but they were told McCall, from Earlston, had not harmed the children.

However, the parents persisted with their complaints resulting in McCall being found guilty this month of five charges of assaulting pupils and one charge of threatening or abusive behaviour.

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Following the council's announcement this week that there will be an independent investigation into how complaints about McCall were dealt with, Ms Grahame says that parents of the affected children must be central to the process.

“I welcome the confirmation of an independent inquiry from Scottish Borders Council (SBC), but I do still believe the devil is in the detail which we’ve yet to see,” said Ms Grahame, of the SNP.

“Scottish Borders Council’s earlier ‘independent’ inquiry exonerated staff members of any fault and it took police investigations and a subsequent trial to expose the truth.

“Given that we’re talking about suspicions of a cover up within SBC, this process must be fully transparent to restore public confidence and ensure that parents of the affected children are central to the discussions on the process to have faith in its ability to get answers.

“What happened in this case is abhorrent and has left the families affected to pick up the pieces. Scottish Borders Council did not keep these children safe and any inquiry must get right to the heart of why this is, so it can never happen again.”

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After McCall’s guilty verdict, an SBC spokesperson said: "The safety and wellbeing of young people in our schools is paramount.

"Any concerns are treated very seriously and there are robust policies and procedures in place to ensure matters are properly addressed.

"We cannot comment on individual employee-related matters.”

At a full council meeting yesterday, SBC chief executive Netta Meadows announced that an independent inquiry will take place.