The social worker allocated to Peter Connelly in Haringey received death threats and had to be moved to a safe house after the intense media scrutiny on her involvement in the case.
The revelation was made by the lawyer representing Maria Ward at a General Social Care Council conduct hearing scrutinising her professional conduct.
The media attacks on Ward and team manager Gillie Christou went “far beyond what was necessary”, and should be taken into account by the conduct committee, Nick Toms told the hearing in London.
In a statement, Ward and Christou, who did not attend the hearing, admitted that their joint failure to protect the 17-month-old amounted to professional misconduct.
The outcome of the criminal trial in November 2008, in which Peter Connelly’s adult carers were convicted of causing or allowing his death, prompted a national outcry against Haringey Council’s children’s services.
Toms cited The Sun newspaper’s petition, signed by more than one million readers, which demanded the social workers involved in the case be sacked and banned from working with children, as one of the worst examples of the coverage. It also ran headlines such as “Blood on their hands”.
Ward and Christou added in their statement: “We recognise and accept that the media have a duty to report on cases such as that of Peter Connelly.
“Unfortunately, the nature of some of the media coverage in this case has gone far beyond what was necessary or legitimate in the public interest.”
Toms said Ward had received death threats and was moved to a safe house.
Today, the lawyer urged the conduct committee to consider this when deciding which sanction should be imposed on Ward and Christou.
“They have both paid a very heavy price for their involvement in the case already,” he said.
Marios Lambis, representing the GSCC, agreed that the effect of the media attention on Ward and Christou should be considered.
He said: “I have no doubt about the effect that media attention has had on these registrants.
“Their ability to perform similar work has been curtailed because their reputations will precede them.”
Peter, also known as Baby P, died on 3 August 2007 after suffering more than 50 injuries at the hands of his mother, her partner and their lodger.
Ward and Christou admitted all allegations of misconduct against them, including that they failed to properly follow a child protection conference plan in the months leading to Peter’s death.
The GSCC found misconduct proved and is expected to announce whether a sanction will be imposed tomorrow.
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