Justice For Baby P at Last

Two of Baby P's social workers have lost an appeal against an employment tribunal ruling that they were fairly sacked by Haringey Council.

After her dismal failure as children’s boss at Haringey Council, Sharon Shoesmith won her appeal against her sacking.  Yet in a rare case of social and moral responsibility, somebody has now been made to take the blame over the death of Baby P at the hands of Haringey social workers.

Although Gillie Christou and Maria Ward (pictured) claimed they were unfairly dismissed by the council in response to their part in the little boy’s horrific death, given that it was their job to protect him, they felt otherwise.  If someone was going to pay then it wasn’t going to be them, or so they thought.

Obviously gee’d on by Shoesmith’s success at bucking the system, the fact they thought they could wash their hands of any responsibility was one step too far, even in these cosseted times.  Yet realising that they were prepared to take the money even though they were found wanting, although astounding, it’s sadly not unusual these days.

The fact is that this odious pair, who couldn’t even be bothered to attend their own appeal hearings, speaks volumes for their attitudes towards trial and retribution.  They were supposed to be trained ‘experts’ who supposedly knew better than intuition and common sense but, tellingly, the only thing they’ve learned is that they can appeal again and  again.

Clearly this duo are not fit for purpose, given that it was their job to enforce the law in order to protect vulnerable children - which they failed to do.  They might claim they were overworked but this was something they were supposed to be trained to cope with and failed.  Of course the failure to do the job is something they don’t recognise and it doesn’t stop them from appealing again.

A baby lost his life with more ease than these adults are able to justifiably lose their jobs and that is wrong.  Shoesmith gave false hope to others to work the system for their own benefit.  This is a tragedy.  Even though she won because of an error by then Children’s Secretary Ed Balls, that doesn’t take away the fact that a child died on her watch, which she does not accept past her pay packet.

There is still much anger at her victory and failing because of a technological detail.  Apparently Balls failed to give Shoesmith the opportunity to defend herself from criticism in an Ofsted report and this is her victory.  But at the end of the day it was her job to defend baby P and she failed spectacularly.

The Christou and Ward case should never have come to court.  They should have been left to deal with their guilt.  But then to suffer such a thing meant they would have had to have felt it.  Sadly they did not and for that the entire social service industry is a worse place to be. 

Published by Martin Baum on 30/05/2012