The two social workers at the centre of the baby Peter case in Haringey are being charged with misconduct, Community Care can reveal.
The General Social Care Council is issuing conduct proceedings against Maria Ward, the social worker allocated to Peter Connelly, and her team manager Gillie Christou. A spokesperson said: “The cases are now progressing towards a hearing.”
The regulator announced it was beginning a formal investigation into the conduct of the two practitioners on 13 November 2008, two days after three adults, including Peter’s mother, were convicted of causing or allowing the child’s death at the Old Bailey.
Ward and Christou have been banned from practising for the last 17 months, after the GSCC imposed interim suspension orders in 10 December 2008.
An independent panel of the GSCC lifted the orders earlier this month on the grounds that it would be disproportionate to continue to suspend the practitioners “given the issues and the current status of the two cases”, a spokesperson said.
Community Care can also reveal that Ward and Christou, who were sacked by Haringey Council for gross misconduct in April 2009, have decided to take their cases to the employment tribunal after losing an initial appeal to the council.
The appeals will be heard together on 22 September at the Watford Employment Tribunal.
Earlier today, Haringey’s director of children’s services Sharon Shoesmith, who was sacked over the case in December 2008, lost her application for a judicial review of the decision.
But Rakesh Patel, solicitor for Ward and Christou, said the Shoesmith verdict “doesn’t necessarily weaken” Ward’s and Christou’s case because the employment tribunal uses a different test to the High Court in determining whether a dismissal was unfair.
“It’s an employment law claim; we’re saying they were not guilty of misconduct, or, if they were, it was not serious enough to warrant dismissal,” he said.
Social workers at Haringey Council’s children’s services placed Baby P on the child protection register in December 2006, but decided against issuing care proceedings. The 17-month-old child was found dead in his cot in August 2007 having suffered multiple injuries.