Monday, January 12, 2009

"An outbreak of common sense?"

I am sure you all remember Baby P who I named one of my Heroes of the Year. In my column, I commented about the failure of the child protection services in Haringey, where Baby P lived out his short, tortured life:
This precious hero, reaching out to someone, despite the documented abuses he suffered. This child, despite having come to the attention of many local child protection services, was killed by people who SHOULD have nurtured him. This young hero, was also killed by the neglect of the authorities who completely failed in their duty. For a timeline of how this baby boy was abused by not only his mother and her 'friends' but failed by the people whose job it is to safeguard all children, go here. It seems that after his death, there was much wringing of hands, pointing of fingers, as all sorts of investigations were started. Yes, heads rolled ... (original post here.)

One of the heads that rolled was Sharon Shoesmith, then council chief. She was sacked, and told she would have no severance package, no compensation. It seems Ms. Shoesmith was not willing to go quietly. To say I was outraged when I found the following article, is to grossly understate my reaction:

Baby P chief: My dismissal was illegal

Jack Lefley

THE council chief sacked over the Baby P abuse scandal is claiming ministers acted illegally by firing her.

Sharon Shoesmith, 55, who was dismissed last month for "devastating" failures, is fighting for up to £173,000 compensation.

A 500-page dossier claims both Children's Secretary Ed Balls and Haringey council broke the law by firing her.

Her lawyers say the damning report into the scandal which led to her dismissal was untrue.

Mrs Shoesmith, who is understood to have hired Ken Livingstone's former lawyer Tony Child, refused to apologise or resign from her £110,000 job after 17-month-old Baby P died of abuse while he was on the council's at-risk register.

A source said Mrs Shoesmith had come out "all guns blazing". They added: "[She] is basing her appeal on the grounds that the panel failed to apply the law properly, and failed to check whether the findings of the highly critical report were true."

Baby P died in his cot after suffering 50 injuries. Social workers saw him about 60 times yet he was left with his abusive mother and step-father and their lodger. All three await sentencing.[emphasis mine]

The verdict on Mrs Shoesmith's compensation hearing is due in a fortnight...(here)

Be sure to check out some of the readers' comments on that. They don't mince words. It seems Ms Shoesmith did not have to wait her fortnight (that's two weeks for my American readers!) for a decision.

Baby P official loses sack appeal

Sharon Shoesmith/Baby P
Sharon Shoesmith's department was heavily criticised in the Baby P case

The former head of children's services at the centre of the Baby P case has lost an appeal against her dismissal.

Sharon Shoesmith was sacked by Haringey Council last month after a damning initial report into her department's role into the 17-month-old's death.

The toddler, who was on the council's "at-risk" register, died in 2007 after suffering a series of major injuries.

The north London council said the appeal had been rejected by a panel of councillors.

Following the report, Ms Shoesmith was dismissed with immediate effect and the council said she would not be receiving any compensation or pay in lieu of notice....(BBC here)

I would say that there are no winners in any of this. Upon reflection, though, maybe any future children in care may be the winners. Not only will Ms Shoesmith never again be in a position to be grossly negligent in her duty, but perhaps also, any other workers whose job it is to protect the weakest in our society will be more vigilant. Maybe - just maybe - in future cases, some employee will blow the whistler on obvious cases of child abuse.

And the title of this piece? Was a comment by a reader on today's report in the Evening Standard:

...Ms Shoesmith's appeal hearing before a panel of three Haringey councillors began on Wednesday last week and lasted three days.

A Haringey Council spokesman said: "A panel of councillors has rejected an appeal by Sharon Shoesmith against her dismissal on December 8 2008.

"The decision was taken today by a different panel of councillors from the ones who made the original decision. Ms Shoesmith will not be returning to work in Haringey. She will not receive any compensation package. She will not receive any payment in lieu of notice."...

What's this - an outbreak of common sense? - I can hardly believe it. - 45govt, Bermuda...


I expect Ms. Shoesmith will continue to feel hard done by, and wrongly dismissed, etc. etc. Be that as it may, it is my fervent hope that ALL future employees responsible for the safety of these precious littlest heroes, use a LARGE dose of common sense, at the very least.

The Baby P's of our world deserve that, and so much more.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good riddance to bad rubbish!

I don't understand what a child could possibly do to someone, that would make another person think they deserved to be treated in such a manner!

And I won't even get into the issue of leaving a child in such a dangerous home, time after time after time.....! Unbelievable!