Haringey Council admits to further investigations into child abuse

Labour-run Haringey Council, which failed to protect Child T and Baby P, has admitted that there are two further cases of child abuse under review in the borough. The shocking revelation comes just a month after the release of a damning report into the failure to protect Child T.

Child T was left to be abused for a year by his parents following failings by Haringey Council, the police and NHS. Child T and his siblings were eventually taken into care more than a year after the first incident of abuse came to the attention of doctors and social services.

Local Liberal Democrat councillors uncovered the additional serious case reviews via a question to the Labour administration, where they asked how many abuse cases in the borough were being investigated. In response, the Labour Cabinet Member for Children admitted that the handling of two abuse cases are being investigated in the borough.

Lynne Featherstone MP and the Haringey Lib Dems have called for an independent investigation into repeated failures in child protection services by Haringey’s Labour-run council. So far the calls have been rejected.

Haringey Liberal Democrats children spokesperson has also called for the Serious Case Review process to be reformed.

Cllr Katherine Reece, Haringey Lib Dem Children’s spokesperson, comments:

“I am very concerned that there is another review into a child abuse case in the borough just weeks after a new serious case review was launched.

“We believe that an independent inquiry into the repeated failures to protect children from abuse in Haringey is urgently needed. We also believe that the system of serious case reviews is flawed and needs to be reformed at the very least to ensure some independent voices on the panels.

“We will continue to call for this and to fight for reforms to the child protection service in Haringey to make sure children in the borough are safe.”

Local Lib Dem MP, Lynne Featherstone, comments:

“I am devastated to learn of yet more cases of child abuse under review in Haringey. How many more children will suffer before we see real change?

“Just two weeks ago, Cllr Katherine Reece and I met with the Chief Executive of Haringey Council to discuss child protection in the borough. Very disappointingly, my call for a vital independent investigation into children’s services was rejected again.

“I will continue to call for an independent review and reform of Haringey Council’s children’s services and the Local Safeguarding Children Board – and will not rest until Haringey ceases to fail these vulnerable children.”

Special report reveals new child abuse case in Haringey

ChildrensServicesOver the weekend the Independent ran a special report into Haringey Children’s services – including news that the Council has launched yet another Serious Case Review. Here is the comment I sent to the local media:

“It is just awful to hear that Haringey Council has launched another serious case review, after failing to protect yet another local child.

“This comes just one month after the Child T scandal, and two weeks after my call for an independent review of Childrens Services was rejected by Haringey Council’s Chief Executive.

“I was leader of the opposition at the Council during the Victoria Climbié tragedy, and I remember Haringey Labour and Council officers saying that lessons will be learnt. Since then, they have said the same things over and over again – yet these shocking cases keep appearing.

“That is why I am so angry. That is why we need an independent investigation. No more children should pay the price for Haringey Council’s failure and inability to change.”

Child T – another Haringey protection failure

I am deeply saddened and shocked at news of another failure to protect a child in Haringey. A serious case review published this morning has identified multiple failings by local authorities – including social services – to protect a child, known only as ‘Child T.’

The reportevidences serious failures of management and professional practice at that time within and between the three key child protection agencies – police, health and social care services.’

Child T is alive, having been removed from the care of their parents more than a year after the first incident of abuse came to the attention of doctors and social services. However, the report states that, in the course of the year, Child T was taken to hospital twice with suspicious injuries, only to be returned to their parents. This is just one of the multiple failings listed.

Most people will be aware that it was also Haringey Council who failed to protect Baby P and Victoria Climbe. After these two horrendous failures – serious changes should have been made. But now, Child T has been failed too. Indeed, the review identifies features that are common between the Baby P and the Child T cases.

It is just appalling that Haringey Council have become embroiled in another child abuse scandal. The local Lib Dems, local residents and I have long been calling on the Labour leadership to address the manifest failings of Children’s Services – but our calls have simply been ignored.

What makes me even more upset and angry, is that Haringey’s Labour leadership have repeatedly told us that lessons had been learnt, and that Children’s Services had turned a corner. But this was evidently not true – and now another child has paid the price.

I fully support the Haringey Liberal Democrat calls for an urgent, independent investigation. It cannot come quickly enough.

Costly mistakes of a Council in crisis…

The Ham and High got it spot on this week, reporting on the costly mistakes of a ‘Council in crisis.’

Haringey Council have always been prone to bad press and terrible errors, but last week this intensified, as the Council quickly lurched from one scandal to another.

The front page article specifically refers to a court case against the Council. A High Court Judge ruled that that the Council acted indefensibly and unlawfully on an anonymous complaint against two parents.

Not only did Haringey Council act unlawfully throughout the investigation, they were also ruled to have also breached the Human Rights Act and will have to pay compensation accordingly.

Compensation following a Judicial Review is very rare,  and  indicates  that  the  judge  feels  a  real  abuse  of power  has  occurred.

This really was a damning verdict against Haringey children’s services, who have again failed the people in this borough.

It’s truly shocking that even after Baby P, they still have not managed to get the department in order.

Haringey Labour have proved themselves incapable of turning around the department. They are truly living up to their reputation as ‘the worst in England.’

Haringey Children, parents and residents deserve better.

Lib Dems slam response to unlawful Haringey Council investigation

The judgement of a Judicial Review into Labour-run Haringey’s Children and Young Persons Service department was today handed down by a High Court judge. The Judge held that the Council acted indefensibly and unlawfully on an anonymous complaint against two parents.

The Review was granted in relation to a complaint by a parent about an aborted investigation into alleged abuse of their child. The Judge determined that Haringey acted unlawfully in that:

  • They did not launch relevant investigation at the right time
  • They made intrusive enquiries of their child’s GP and school before speaking with the family, contrary to regulations
  • Their belated attempt to launch Section 47 inquiry into allegation was flawed and was quashed

The Judge also ordered Haringey Council to pay £2,000 compensation to the parent under the Human Rights Act (Article 8 – right to family life.)

Cllr David Schmitz – Liberal Democrat, Harringay ward – commented:

“Section 47 enquiries are very serious. The Judge himself observed that they can easily damage the life, career and family relationships of anyone caught up in them. If Haringey had got its way on this case, it would have got away with threatening to use their powers against innocent parents, who had done nothing more than make entirely justified complaints about the way that council officers were ignoring safeguards which are in place to protect all of us.

“During the case, Haringey argued that the statutory guidance was getting in the way of child protection. That guidance was written for the purpose of teaching social workers everywhere the lessons that needed to be learnt from Haringey’s failures in the Baby P case. It is outrageous that the guidance should not be followed by Haringey itself.”

Cllr Katherine Reece – Haringey Liberal Democrat spokesperson for children – commented:

“It is such a shame that Haringey has been found to have failed yet again. In this case they have been found to have acted overzealously resulting in a breach of parents’ rights.

“This comes on top of the recent case of the Haringey baby left on a bus by a foster carer, they can’t get the balance right.

“These two cases confirm that despite recent progress Haringey Council’s children services still have a long way to go and still require improvement.

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green commented:

“Not only did Haringey Council act unlawfully throughout the investigation, they have also breached the Human Rights Act and will have to pay compensation accordingly. Compensation following a Judicial Review is very rare,  and  indicates  that  the  judge  feels  a  real  abuse  of power  has  occurred.

“This is a damning verdict. Yet again, Haringey children’s services have failed. Even after Baby P, they still have not managed to get the department in order. Haringey Children, parents and residents deserve better.”

GOSH – update

Finally, on the last day of the parliamentary term, I receive the Secretary of State for Health’s response to my request for an investigation into the withholding of information from the 1st Serious Case Review by Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

It’s a no! Dissappointed – yes. Surprised – no.

The Secretary of State has taken the view that things have been put right since the dreadful events surrounding Peter Connelly’s death – and that although the 1st Serious Case Review into Baby Peter’s death was inadequate – a 2nd was ordered and carried out and that if the Chair of the 2nd Serious Case Review, Graham Badman, did not get to see the Sibert Report – that is between him and Dr Collins.  The Secretary of State concludes: ”I do not believe it would be beneficial to revisit these events once more’.

The Secretary of State did say he would look into the issues I raised and he has done so and come to a view.

My own view is that without a ‘judge-led’ inquiry into the withholding of the full Sibert Report from the 1st Serious Case Review and the consequences thereof –  ‘witnesses’ will not speak out for fear of reprisals or because they are under gagging orders – and only the protection of giving evidence under oath would allow them to do so. So – yes – I am disappointed.

In all of this I am acting as a local MP and fighting for justice for Dr Kim Holt who is still (after nearly four years) on special leave as the whistle blower who spoke out about the conditions at St Ann’s Clinic where Baby Peter was taken and his injuries not recognised. Despite a NHS London independent investigation recommending her reinstatement by GOSH – she remains on full pay at taxpayers’ expense (an excellent paediatrician going to waste because she spoke out).

I simply observe, however, that it in terms of the current scandal over hacking being exposed despite the power of the press, the police and politicians – the truth is outing!

We will just have to see what happens next.

Pressure mounts on Great Ormond Street

Three new gaping holes in Great Ormond Street Hospital’s defense of their managerial operation have opened up in the last couple of days.

Andrew Gilligan writing in the Sunday Telegraph today uncovers more material and more witnesses that demonstrate GOSH’s failure to deal with patient safety issues when warned by top consultants with the management turning on those who dare raise such issues. You can read his article here. This follows exactly what happened to my constituent, Kim Holt, a consultant paediatrician working for GOSH at St Ann’s before Baby Peter’s death – who warned that the situation was dangerous and for her troubles was turned on by the hospital. Clearly there are many others in similar positions at GOSH.

Second – a group of consultants have called on the Secretary of State for Health to order an independent inquiry into all of this. They say that there is such a culture of fear that no one dares speak out. I know quite a few people who won’t speak to the media – but would give evidence to an inquiry. Only with the protection of an official inquiry will we get to the truth. 

Thirdly – and most relevant to my concern that GOSH withheld vital information from the 1st Serious Case Review (a statutory process) which documents the events leading up to Baby Peter’s death – is that a key part of GOSH’s defense is that they withheld the information on police advice. In a BBC London report on Friday night the BBC say that Scotland Yard refutes this absolutely and they would never give such advice and it would not be in their jurisdiction to do so.

Local MP calls for investigation into Baby P report

Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, Lynne Featherstone, has called for an investigation into an alleged attempt to hide management failings following the death of Baby P.

Following the death of Peter Connelly (Baby P), Dr Jane Collins the Chief Executive of Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) commissioned the Sibert Report to investigate both the doctor and the systems involved in child protection, run by GOSH in Haringey.

An addendum of the report was authored by Dr Jane Collins and submitted to the Serious Case Review. The full report has now been released to the BBC in response to an FOI request. It shows Dr Collins’ addendum did not include the report’s vital criticisms of the management and child protection practices.

In a letter to Jo Williams, Chair of the Care Quality Commission, Baroness Blackstone Chair of GOSH Board, Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove and Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, Lynne Featherstone has called for an investigation into Dr Jane Collins’ actions.

Speaking as Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, Lynne Featherstone said:

“There is now clear evidence that information was withheld from the serious case review into the death of Baby Peter. Key criticisms were edited out and it appears there was an attempt to cover-up the fact the situation was ‘clinically risky’.

“The key person in charge in Haringey was dismissed from post. The key managers also lost their jobs. But the Chief Executive and the managers at GOSH who presided over this ‘clinically risky situation’ are still in post. Their roles and culpability have never faced proper scrutiny.

“This can be nothing other than a deliberate attempt to hide the management failings, and subvert the serious case review process.

“It is not possible to learn the right lessons unless all relevant and important information has been disclosed, whatever the potential impact on the hospitals and health trusts involved.”

Call for investigation into the withholding of vital information to the first Serious Case Review into the death of Peter Connelly

The news broke tonight on the back of the Sibert Report finally being released under Freedom of Information to BBC London in the 6.30 BBC London news.

I have raised it on the floor of the chamber and on this blog many times (just use the search button) – that the health care failings in Children’s Safeguarding by Great Ormond Street (GOSH) were never looked into properly and worse.

Finally – with the release of the Sibert Report – anyone can see if they compare the original report with the addendum supplied to the Serious Case Revew what has been removed. The BBC London website has an excellent report on the scandal here.

Whilst the establishment tries to close around Great Ormond Street to protect the Chief Executive – the facts are out there now to be seen by all. GOSH have refuted all the charges and the Board say they have complete confidence in Dr Collins. Shame on them.

In their statement they say they met me about my concerns. No – they met me about concerns about one of my constituents (one of the four paediatric consultants who was put on special leave because she raised concerns about the danger to children in St Ann’s Hospital). That meeting was not about the withholding of information from the Serious Case Review. And moreover – even that meeting was only granted after Baroness Blackstone (Chair of Great Ormond Street Board) had refused to meet me on my own without Dr Collins present. I have the emails!

Haringey was rightly in the spotlight as the lead agency in the wake of the Baby P tragedy – but  perhaps that spotlight detracted from the terribly dangerous conditions in which vulnerable children were being left by the management failures by GOSH.

The fact that these failings – this vital information – never reached the Serious Case Review because it was removed  from the addendum submitted to the Serious Case Review is a scandal. Dr Collins is the author of the addendum.

I have called for an investigation into the withholding of this vital information and wait to see whether real justice will be done.

Liberal Democrat Voice have written a post on this here.

Sharon Shoesmith

The court’s decision was that Sharon Shoesmith was unlawfully dismissed because of procedural issues. My understanding is that the court is not saying that she should or should not have lost her job, but simply that proper procedures to dismiss her were not followed.

The real crux for me is that after each terrible tragedy we are always told ‘lessons will be learned’.

Well – one of the lessons we learned from Victoria Climbie’s death (which also happened in Haringey a few years earlier) was that no one took ultimate responsibility for the failings in Haringey Council.

The then Leader, (George Meehan), the councillor who chaired the Social Services Committee (Gina Adamou) and the Director of Social Services (Mary Richardson) – suffered no consequences of the dire failures in departments that they were responsible for. No one resigned. No one was held accountable. Only the social worker at the end of the food chain got it in the neck.

That is why, following the public inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie in Haringey, Lord Laming put in a recommendation that there should be responsibility under the law for this duty of care. And so – in the Children’s Act 2004, for the first time,  it was set in law that two positions would be held responsible for the failings in their service. Those positions were the Director of Children’s Services and the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services.

Following Baby Peter’s death – Cllr Liz Santry, the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, resigned. Sharon Shoesmith, the Director of Children’s Services, did not.

The Government’s decision to appeal this latest decision is welcome. The outcome of that judgement will tell us whether lessons have really been learned.