Key social worker in Climbie case complained of ‘poor supervision’

Haringey social worker responsible for Victoria Climbie’s case told
the independent inquiry into the girl’s death that she had been
“out of her depth”, overworked, and poorly supervised throughout
her handling of the case.

two-and-a-half days of evidence to the public inquiry, Lisa
Arthurworrey accepted that she had made mistakes, but insisted that
all her actions and decisions had been confirmed with her managers

accused her original manager, Carole Baptiste, of being unavailable
and of preferring to spend rare supervision sessions talking about
God and her experiences as a black woman, rather than casework. She
described Baptiste’s successor, Angella Mairs, as a “bully” who did
not like to be challenged.

Arthurworrey said there was no systematic evaluation of the way she
handled Victoria’s case, adding that her supervision sessions
amounted to “me telling them what was happening in the case and
then I was just handed a list of actions.”

She said
the total time dedicated to discussing Victoria’s case by “the
people who were supposed to be advising and assisting me” between
August 1999 and February 2000 amounted to no more than half an

reminded the inquiry that, in August 1999 when she was allocated
Victoria’s case, she had had only 19 months’ experience as a
qualified social worker, had prepared only one case conference, had
never carried out a joint section 47 investigation, and had a
caseload of 19 cases, including 10 child protection cases.

to the inquiry Neil Garnham QC said Arthurworrey’s evidence had
highlighted 25 occasions on which she had failed to act
appropriately, including her failure to reflect on and evaluate
Victoria’s case, her failure to report Victoria to the education
authorities, her failure to speak to Victoria during a home visit,
and her assumption that Victoria and her great aunt Marie-Therese
Kouao had “moved on” when they failed to contact the

Arthurworrey said half of these occasions were at least to some
degree the result of poor information or lack of managerial

she accepted responsibility for the other half, admitting that her
most significant mistake had been her “dangerous assumption” that
Kouao and Victoria had left the country when they failed to keep an
appointment on 1 December 1999.

Arthurworrey told the inquiry she had also made a “big error of
judgement” the day she decided the case was no longer one of child

She said
her whole perception had been altered by a fax from the Central
Middlesex Hospital, which Baptiste believed justified the decision
to return Victoria to Kouao’s care. Victoria was subsequently
reclassified as a family support case.

Arthurworrey admitted that an entirely different course of action
would have been taken had she and Baptiste read the fax properly
instead of assuming the front letter – which confirmed that marks
on Victoria were due to scabies – was a fair summary.

Arthurworrey told the inquiry that, on 28 February 2000, following
Victoria’s death and a request from assistant director of social
services Carol Wilson for a copy of the file, she saw Angella Mairs
remove the final contact sheet from Victoria’s file.

sheet had Mairs’ signature on it and indicated there should be “no
further action”.

She told
the inquiry she had not known who to protest to, explaining that
she had never met either the assistant director or the director,
Mary Richardson, despite having been with Haringey social services
department for 16 months at that stage.

added that she had not initially reported the incident to the part
8 review panel because the panel had been “oppressive”,
“accusatory” and “not interested in finding the truth”, and she had
not felt comfortable.

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