Arthurworrey wins 10-year battle for registration

The social worker sacked following the death of Victoria Climbié said she is looking forward to practising again after winning her battle to join the professional register.

Lisa Arthurworrey said the General Social Care Council’s decision to finally grant her registration, 10 years after Victoria died in the London Borough of Haringey, meant she could now start rebuilding her career.

In a private hearing at the GSCC on 26 February, Arthurworrey agreed to comply with eight conditions, including re-training, reporting to the GSCC on an annual basis and completing a health check before taking on any jobs. She is not allowed to practise as an agency practitioner but is free to practise in any area of social work, including child protection.

Responding to the decision, Arthurworrey said: “I am naturally pleased that this decision has finally come. The last 10 years have been incredibly difficult ones and I now want to start rebuilding my career.”

Community Care understands she wants to return to social work but has no immediate plans.

Arthurworrey had 18 months’ experience when she became the allocated social worker for Victoria at Haringey Council from August 1999 until her death in February 2000, aged eight.

Despite not having completed any child protection inquiries when she took on the case, she was repeatedly criticised after failings emerged in the trial of Victoria’s carers, Marie-Therese Kouao, and Carl John Manning, who were convicted of murder in 2001.

Arthurworrey was dismissed by Haringey Council in November 2002, shortly after being placed on the Protection of Children Act (Poca) list, which banned her from working with children in the UK.

But during Lord Laming’s inquiry into the case in January 2003, it emerged that Arthurworrey had not been properly supervised and had been “badly let down” by managers.

After winning an appeal to be removed from the Poca list, When the GSCC launched its social care register in 2005 Arthurworrey applied to be included on it but the regulator refused on conduct and competence grounds.

Arthurworrey appealed the decision at the Care Standards Tribunal (CST), and in 2008 it ruled she should be allowed to register under certain conditions, such as undergoing a psychiatric assessment to prove her mental health was stable.

The tribunal said it did not regard the failings identified as so serious as to preclude her from being registered.

Roger Kline, social care spokesperson for children’s services union Aspect, who represented Lisa in her final hearing with the GSCC, said: “The Care Standards Tribunal has on two separate occasions supported Lisa’s request to be allowed to practice. It is deplorable that she has had to wait 10 years to be able to start practicing again.

“It is too easy for employers to try to blame individual social workers when things go wrong.

“We welcome the registration committee’s decision and hope the case will cause the GSCC to reflect on, and change, the culture which subjected Lisa to incorrect decisions and long delays.”

Liz Davies, senior lecturer in social work at London Metropolitan University and former expert witness for Arthurworrey at the CST, said it was “to Lisa’s credit” that she had continued her struggle to resume her chosen career.

A spokesperson for the GSCC declined to comment on the reasons for the delay in granting Arthurworrey’s registration but said in a statement: “We can confirm that Lisa Arthurworrey was granted registration with conditions on 26 February. Her name is now on the register.”

Timeline of events

July – August 1999: Doctors refer Victoria Climbié’s case to Haringey Council’s social services department, who allocate it to Lisa Arthurworrey.

February 2000: Victoria dies after suffering more than 100 separate injuries to her body at the hands of her aunt and her aunt’s partner.

January 2001: Victoria’s aunt and partner are convicted of murder and child cruelty. Both sentenced to life imprisonment.

April 2001: The government announces Lord Laming will hold a public inquiry into Victoria’s death.

September 2002: Arthurworrey is placed on the Poca list.

November 2002: Lisa Arthurworrey and her manager Angella Mairs are dismissed for gross misconduct by Haringey Council.

January 2003: Lord Laming publishes the results of his inquiry.

June 2005: Arthurworrey is removed from the Poca list after a successful appeal at the Care Standards Tribunal.

September 2005: She applies to the GSCC to be placed on its new social care register.

December 2006: The GSCC refuses her application. Arthurworrey appeals.

March 2008: The CST rules she should be allowed to register under certain conditions. The GSCC says it is “disappointed” by the decision.

February 2010: At its final hearing, the GSCC decides to allow Arthurworrey to register and work as a social worker again.

Related articles

Correction to the Community Care magazine version of this article

Liz Davies: Victoria Climbié’s social worker ‘failed by system’

Standards Tribunal says Arthurworrey won despite BASW’s defence

Arthurworrey wins GSCC appeal but must prove mental health

Arthurworrey tells tribunal supervision is needed for good practice

The Climbié Inquiry

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