Editor of The Sun newspaper Rebekah Wade has defended the tabloid’s campaign on the case of Baby P, claiming it forced the government to take action.
Following the trial of the baby’s mother and her boyfriend over his death in Haringey, the paper delivered more than 1 million signatures to children’s secretary Ed Balls calling for the sacking of all social workers involved in the case. It also ran headlines including “Blood on their hands.”
Giving a lecture last night, Wade claimed the “collective power” of the campaign had forced Balls to use emergency legislation to “ensure those responsible were held to account.”
Wade told an audience at the London College of Communications: “The public outcry was deafening. And we began our fight for justice with a determination to expose the lack of accountability and responsibility for Baby P’s brutal death.”
She said The Sun had received thousands of letters about its Baby P coverage, quoting one that said: “This is not a modern day witch-hunt but a petition for justice” and another that praised The Sun for putting“morality over political correctness.”
In response to the joint area review of Haringey children’s services sparked by the case in December last year, Balls removed Haringey children’s director Sharon Shoesmith from her post. The council leader and lead member for children’s services resigned and a number of staff were put under review.
Commenting on Wade’s claims, Community Care editor Bronagh Miskelly said the removal and review of staff at Haringey “was going to happen regardless” of the tabloid’s campaign. “What it did achieve was leave social workers considering quitting – putting more kids at risk,” she said.
The news came after the government announced that The Sun’s agony aunt Deidre Sanders would sit on the Social Work Taskforce.
At the time of The Sun’s campaign last year, Unison representatives at Haringey Council said professionals were being subjected to verbal abuse by clients, egged on by “disgraceful” coverage in the tabloid press.
Branch secretary Sean Fox said individuals named and photographed in the press had had their privacy invaded by the stream of negative reports, and had been door-stepped several times by tabloid journalists.
The campaigning body Social Work Action Network (Swan) launched its own petition to condemn the “witch hunt” against the profession fuelled by the Baby P case.
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