Councils defend senior managers as workers continue to be disciplined

Two of Britain’s most senior social services managers face
increasing pressure to resign for their failings in the case of
Victoria Climbié after it was revealed that more action has
been taken against other staff involved in the case.

The Haringey director of social services at the time of
Victoria’s death, Mary Richardson, and her assistant, Carol
Wilson, have remained in their new jobs as directors of
London’s Hackney and Waltham Forest social services

Hackney Council said there were no plans to examine
Richardson’s position. It said she had “presided over the
significant progress which has taken place in the department,”
since her appointment in November 1999.

Waltham Forest Council also said it had no plans to review
Wilson’s position.

However, in contrast, Brent Council announced this week that it
has dismissed the manager of the intake duty team responsible for
assessing children deemed at risk of abuse at the time Victoria was
referred to the local authority.

Edward Armstrong was found guilty of gross misconduct at an
internal disciplinary hearing. His appeal has now been

Lord Laming’s inquiry into Victoria’s death heard
that Armstrong had been disciplined by Brent Council in 1993, over
his handling of a family case, that led to a “written agreement
that Armstrong would not work with children”.

It has also been revealed that another unnamed senior social
worker in Armstrong’s team was given a final written warning
resulting from Victoria Climbié’s case, which has now

The council cleared Michelle Hines, the senior social worker who
lifted police protection from Victoria after consultant
paediatrician Ruby Schwartz ruled out non-accidental causes for the
child’s injuries.

One of the key points in Laming’s report is that councils
failed to take action against managers while disciplining, and in
some cases dismissing, front-line workers.

Meanwhile, detective chief inspector Philip Wheeler has been
removed from his secondment to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of
Constabulary after he was heavily criticised in Laming’s
report for his “totally ineffective” management of Brent and
Haringey child protection teams. The inspectorate said it was now
“inappropriate” for him to inspect other officers.

Haringey Council’s Labour group put a motion to this
week’s council meeting calling for the local authority to
take “collective responsibility” for its part in events leading to
Victoria’s death. Two councillors were criticised in
Laming’s report, but the motion argues responsibility lies
with the council as a whole rather than individual councillors.

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