The social workers at the centre of the Baby P case have had their cases for unfair dismissal thrown out by an employment tribunal.
Maria Ward and Gillie Christou lost in their appeal against Haringey Council, which sacked them for failing to safeguard Peter Connelly from a campaign of abuse leading to his death in August 2007.
Ward, the social worker allocated to Peter, and her manager, Christou, were dismissed by the London borough in April 2009 for gross misconduct.
In a hearing at Watford employment tribunal, the pair claimed that their failings did not amount to gross misconduct, while Christou also argued that there had been unreasonable delays in the disciplinary process and the council’s internal investigation had been flawed.
But the tribunal found in favour of Haringey Council, and said the dismissals had been fair.
“There is no doubt in our minds that there may have been media pressure and political pressure and [Haringey Council managers] had in mind the tragic death of Peter Connelly,” said Judge Michael Southam in a written judgement.
But he added: “The facts and beliefs which led them to dismiss the claimants’ appeals against their dismissals were, in Ms Ward’s case, the failure to maintain the required visiting frequency and, in both cases, the poor professional judgement demonstrated by both claimants.”
A second serious case review into Peter’s death, published in May 2009, came to the unequivocal conclusion that child protection agencies should have saved the child.
Peter’s mother, Tracey Connelly, his step-father, Steven Barker, and Barker’s brother, Jason Owen, are serving jail sentences for causing or allowing the baby’s death.
Barker was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 12 years; Connelly was jailed indefinitely, with a minimum term of five years; and Owen was jailed indefinitely, with a minimum three-year term.
What do you think? Join the debate on CareSpace
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social care. Sign up to our daily and weekly emails