Baptiste rejects criticism of management style at Victoria Climbie inquiry

The team manager criticised in evidence to the Victoria Climbie
inquiry for her management style denied claims that she held only
one supervision session with Victoria’s allocated social worker
during a three-month period, writes Lauren

Carole Baptiste, who was Lisa Arthurworrey’s acting team manager
at the time Victoria’s case was allocated at the end of July 1999
until she was replaced by Angella Mairs at the beginning of
November 1999, insisted formal supervision sessions had taken place
every two or three weeks.

She also rejected allegations that she had used supervision
sessions to discuss personal issues including her religious beliefs
and her experiences as a black woman.

Baptiste failed to attend the public inquiry into the
eight-year-old’s death in December despite a summons. Later that
month she was charged with breaching an inquiry summons and, having
pleaded not guilty, now faces trial in February.

In her witness statement, provided late to the inquiry, Baptiste
criticised Arthurworrey as “not sufficiently analytical”, “not
always diligent in providing feedback following her assessments”,
“not particularly strong at speaking with the children” and lacking

However, counsel to the inquiry Neil Garnham QC said this was
“entirely inconsistent” with Baptiste’s own assessment of
Arthurworrey during her appraisal carried out during the same

“This is arrant nonsense is it not,” said Garnham. “You are
simply blaming Miss Arthurworrey now despite the fact that you
thought she was competent at the time in order to deflect criticism
from you”.

In response to reports of numerous criticisms of her inability
to manage effectively and efficiently, Baptiste blamed Haringey
council for failing to promote her professional development, and
criticised her line manager Dave Duncan for failing her by not
addressing any concerns around her practice.

In relation to Victoria’s case, Baptiste said in her statement
that she accepted responsibility in a managerial capacity from July
30 1999 to mid October 1999, when she believed her post had “been
deleted” after she unsuccessfully applied for her own position as
part of the department’s restructuring. She therefore denies that
she had any “role of responsibility” to call or attend a strategy
meeting on 5 November 1999.

Baptiste also denied ever seeing all of the fax from Central
Middlesex Hospital highlighting concerns about Victoria, apart from
the letter from Dr Schwartz stating that she has no child
protection concerns.

However, she accepts that she had been made aware by
Arthurworrey that Dr Rossiter continued to have some concern.

“I ought to have looked at Victoria’s case file more
thoroughly,” Baptiste says in her statement. “In hindsight, it
would have been helpful for me to have spoken to Dr Rossiter and to
get some idea of how to co-ordinate all the medical issues.”

In a personal note to Victoria’s parents at the end of her
statement Baptiste, who was also late arriving at the inquiry,
added: “Please forgive me if at any time if you have felt that I
have frustrated or hindered the inquiry. Because I am a parent I
understand only too well that answers are needed and therefore I
have tried to be as honest as I can in helping you to understand my
role in what occurred.

“I regret that Victoria’s voice was not heard and nobody will
fully understand the pain that she suffered. I can only hope that
the contribution that I have subsequently made will help to prevent
another child’s death.”

But Victoria’s parents Berthe and Francis Climbie issued a
statement saying said that Baptiste’s delay in attending the
inquiry despite numerous requests had “prolonged the distress,
anxiety and pain suffered”.

For that reason they felt her expressions of sympathy were “late
in coming” and could not compare with the pain they were

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