NICOLA Sturgeon has warned other politicians against making political points from the murder of Liam Fee and promised to take personal responsibility to learn any lessons from the failures around the two-year-old’s death.

Speaking to the BBC, the First Minister said while there needed to be debates around the Government’s controversial named person plans, politicians needed to be cautious about linking that policy to the brutal killing of Liam by his mother Rachel and her partner Nyomi Fee.

There has been confusion over whether or not Liam had a named person. Fife was one of the pilot areas for the scheme, which was being rolled out across the region incrementally. Fife Council have said confidentiality means they cannot say whether or not the boy had been one of those included in the pilot.

On Tuesday night, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said on Twitter that Liam did have a named person. The Daily Mail has also supported that claim, going on to say that the adult responsible for the boy was a health worker.

Yesterday, neither Fife Council or the First Minister would confirm or deny if Liam had a named person or not.

Sturgeon told the BBC: “While there are debates to be had about the substance of our child protection legislation and about the named person policy, and I respect the different views that there are on these things, I really do think all politicians should be cautious about trying to make political points about the kind of tragedy we have seen in this case.

“So there will be lessons undoubtedly to be learned from the Liam Fee case, but it’s right we learn them in the proper case of events.”

She then told Radio Clyde that she would take responsibility to make sure lessons were learned: “My personal reaction is the same as the reaction of every right-thinking human being across the country – just one of shock, horror and revulsion, and also just an overwhelming feeling of sadness that this wee boy in his young life suffered in the way in which he clearly did.

“I want the same as everybody wants, to make sure that all the lessons that need to be learned in the case are learned and applied in the future. What makes it different for me is that I’m First Minister and I have responsibility to make sure that these lessons are learned.”

Asked specifically about the named person policy she said: “The named person scheme is an attempt to reduce the likelihood of anyone falling through the net.”

Liam was killed by his mother Rachel and Nyomi Fee in March 2014. The two adults were found guilty on ten charges, including neglect, on Tuesday afternoon.

In the seven week trial, a number of witnesses, including Liam’s nursery, his child minder, and a neighbour told how they contacted social services.

Patricia Smith who lived near the family told BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that she felt her call to Fife’s child protection teams served little purpose.

She said: “They told me that they would send a health visitor round, but the feeling I got after that call was that I shouldn’t have bothered. I personally felt like they were maybe getting quite a few calls about them and this one was just another one on the list that was creating them more work.”

One senior social worker told the court that Liam had fallen “off the radar”, after the person dealing with the case went off sick.

A significant case review has been set up to review all the circumstances leading up to Liam’s death.

The two killers will be sentenced in July.

Comment: This shocking case should not be used as a political football 

Rona Mackay

THERE are no words to describe the anger and disgust most of us felt while witnessing the long-running trial of toddler Liam Fee.

To learn this week that he was brutally murdered by his mother and her partner, and that other children in their care had been subjected to horrific abuse, shocked the nation.

We know that a serious case review by Fife Council will now take place to find out what went wrong and why these children were not protected from the vile abuse they received from those who should have been caring from them.

However, inexplicably in my view, this case has attracted a distasteful and crass response from certain campaign groups opposed to the Scottish Government’s named person policy.

This tragic case should in no way be linked with the policy which has been the subject of a sustained campaign of scaremongering and misinformation.

Curiously, it achieved cross-party support in Parliament when it was passed in 2014, so why it is now being used as a political football is beyond me.

Strengthening child protection should never be controversial and as a former Children’s Panel member I am dismayed at those attempting to portray it as such.

It’s important not to overcomplicate named persons.

It is simply a single point of contact for a child to go to so that if agencies need to become involved, children are not required to repeatedly tell their stories to different professionals.

The scheme was introduced at the request of parents and has been trialled successfully in several local authorities across Scotland, including Tory-led South Ayrshire Council.

Highland Council has reported a 50 per cent reduction in social work caseload and a consistent fall in referrals to the Children’s Reporter. 

Indeed, it has been operating informally across Scotland for years and the new legislation simply makes good practice the standard across the whole country.

The named person isn’t someone new or unknown – it is a person already involved in the child’s life, such as a teacher or a health visitor. 

Very often, a problem picked up early can be resolved by this person working with parents or with the school.

Only when it is evident that there is a more serious underlying problem regarding the child’s safety will social work and other professionals be involved, and this is where information sharing with professional agencies is crucial. 

This Act facilitates that and minimises distress to the child.

So let me address a few of the myths: this policy is not an intrusion of family life. 

It does not replace or change the role of a parent or undermine families. Children and parents have no obligation to use the service or take up the advice offered.

My experience in the Children’s Hearing system, which protects hundreds of vulnerable children every day, is that wherever possible parents are the best people to look after their children.

This will not change with named persons. No responsible or caring parent, which thankfully most people are, will ever have contact with their named person.

But we have a duty to protect disadvantaged children who need a little extra help and this Act was introduced to do that.

I await the outcome of the Liam Fee case with interest – and trepidation. We will no doubt hear more harrowing accounts of abuse. And we will wonder how human beings could be capable of such cruelty.

Hopefully, lessons will be learned of how another tragedy could be avoided.

This will not bring Liam back. 

But I will continue to support any measures which strengthen child support and protection, such as the named person policy, because that is what a responsible government is supposed to do.

Rona Mackay, SNP MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden