I just had the same problem.
The only thing that worked for me.
Be sure and have show hidden system files checked in control panel/folder options.
Right click start select explore and then left click drive c:.(drive your OS is installed to)
I right click on the folder Recycler and unchecked the box for Read only and leave the one fold hidden checked.
Then clicked apply and made sure the box is marked for apply to all sub files and folders.
Next I made several blank note pad files on the desktop and in different folders threw out the system.
Then I deleted them.
They now appear in the recycle bin and can be restored/emptied
I did not have to restart the PC or anything.
I'm running windows xp home with sp3 installed.
You may need to repeat the process for other hard drives you have installed.
Hope this helps someone as I had tried everything I could find on the web.
Just had to finger it out for myself as usual.