The manager responsible for supervising Victoria Climbie’s
social worker between August and November 1999 could face a six
month prison sentence after she failed to turn up to give evidence
to the public inquiry into the girl’s death,
writes Lauren Revans.
Carole Baptiste, who was Lisa Arthurworrey’s team manager
until an office restructuring in November 1999, had been summoned
to appear before inquiry chairperson Lord Herbert Laming and his
team of experts after she failed to produce a written statement for
the inquiry in the summer.
Baptiste blamed her earlier failure to co-operate on ill-health,
but a psychiatric report found her fit to attend and give
Baptiste’s solicitors were unable to accept a summons
requiring her attendance on her behalf in August because she had
not instructed them to do so, and it was finally served to her in
person last week.
Commenting on Baptiste’s breach of the summons, Laming
said she had exhausted his patience.
“Without reservation of any kind, I instruct that the solicitor
now lay information before a magistrate’s court so that
criminal proceedings can be taken and I hope that these proceedings
will be pursued as vigorously as possible,” he said.
Laming added that he was satisfied that the inquiry team had
done everything possible to help Baptiste get to the inquiry to
give her evidence. Under the Local Government Act 1972, Baptiste
now faces a six-month sentence, a £1,000 fine, or both.
Laming also expressed his annoyance with Haringey Council, after
they produced 263 new documents to the inquiry. A summons was
issued to Haringey social services director Anne Bristow requiring
her to produce missing files to the inquiry after their existence
came to light during proceedings.
Laming said he had seen no reason for why these documents had
not been produced earlier, and that their late submission was
“This is not only unfair to the other interested parties, and
indeed to the witnesses, it is detrimental to the work of the
inquiry,” Laming said.
Counsel to the inquiry Neil Garnham QC said he would need to
reserve the right to recall Haringey witnesses where appropriate to
deal with matters arising out of the new material.
He added that there appeared to be only two possible
explanations for Haringey’s failure to produce the
documentation earlier: “Either incompetence on the part of Haringey
Council or a deliberate attempt to avoid responsibilities to this