A social worker convicted of conspiring to murder her husband has said her life and health have been “devastated” following a family court judgement criticising her conduct.
Last week, the ruling revealed that the General Social Care Council and Bath and North East Somerset Council failed to check Lynda Barnes’s criminal file when registering her and employing her as a children’s team manager.
Judge Barclay slammed “serious failings” by the council and Barnes in the handling of a child protection case. Barnes lied under oath and also “fabricated” evidence, the judgement published last week said.
Conviction ‘never a secret’
In response, Barnes’s solicitor issued a statement on her behalf saying that her previous conviction “was never a secret” and was widely known among professionals before the case was concluded.
John Weatherall said: “Mrs Barnes always endeavoured to be a supportive and professional team leader with Bath and North East Somerset Council. She denies that she ever told anyone to lie in court or manufactured evidence.
‘Trauma’ of events
“The events leading to her conviction occurred during a period of great trauma in her life. She sought counselling and reconciled with her husband. She disclosed her previous conviction to the GSCC and gave permission for the criminal file to be disclosed. She never deliberately misled anyone.”
Background to the case
The family court judgement naming Barnes said that she had been a social worker at Avon Council in the child care department when she was convicted for conspiring to murder her husband.
She was given a two-year suspended sentence on 24 March 1995 at Bristol Crown Court. Barnes had pleaded guilty on the second day of the trial, and her co-conspirator was jailed for 38 months.
She disclosed the conviction when she joined Bath and North East Somerset Council on 30 September 2005 as an assistant team manager, and became team manager on 2 November 2006. Barnes was also registered with the General Social Care Council in January 2006.
‘Blurred sense of reality’
The court was told that Barnes’ pre-sentence report had concluded that her “sense of reality is blurred with her fantasies” and that she did not accept her actions were “in any way real”.
But while Judge Barclay said it was “clear” that Barnes had given Bath and North East Somerset Council authority to see her criminal file, it had failed to do so. He also concluded that it was “probably unlikely” that the GSCC had seen it, given the evidence received by the court.
During the case, the judge agreed with a request from the counsel for the father of one of the children involved to produce Barnes’s Criminal Records Bureau certificate, which the council had previously refused. Then her history was fully disclosed.
The council has commissioned an independent review of 17 cases where Barnes was significantly involved and said this would be made public.
The council confirmed that Barnes had resigned on 31 March this year and that it had referred her case to the GSCC.
The GSCC said that it was investigating Barnes’ actions and applying to suspend her on a temporary basis, while pointing out that a criminal conviction was not a bar to registration.
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