Baby P social workers lose appeal
Two of Baby P's social workers have lost an appeal against an employment tribunal ruling that they were fairly sacked.
Gillie Christou and Maria Ward claimed they were unjustly fired by Haringey Council in north London in response to a public outcry about the little boy's horrific death.
A Watford employment tribunal panel previously concluded that the local authority acted reasonably in dismissing them because of serious failings in their care of the toddler. At a brief hearing at the Employment Appeal Tribunal in central London, at which neither woman appeared, Mr Justice Wilkie announced the pair's appeal was dismissed.
Speaking after the short hearing, solicitor Riz Majid, representing the women, said they plan to appeal. He said: "Maria Ward and Gillie Christou are disappointed by the result. We will be studying the judgment carefully with a view to going to the Court of Appeal."
The women's lawyers previously argued that their case had been bolstered by a landmark Court of Appeal ruling in May last year that Haringey's children's services director Sharon Shoesmith was unfairly sacked over the Baby P tragedy.
Senior judges found the council and former children's secretary Ed Balls acted in a way that was "procedurally unfair" when Ms Shoesmith was first removed from her post and then fired without compensation in December 2008.
Mrs Christou and Ms Ward's legal teams claim they suffered "double jeopardy" because they faced two Haringey misconduct panels looking at the same allegations against them.
The first disciplinary proceedings, overseen by Ms Shoesmith, concluded that they only needed to receive written warnings, but the second resulted in them being fired. Their lawyers also argued that the original employment tribunal should have taken into account the fact that Haringey social services were "under-resourced and under-supported" at the time.
Hilton Dawson, chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers, said: "This is a case that should strike fear into the heart of every social worker. Social workers are trained professionals attempting to do their best for children under very stressful circumstances, but when things go wrong their mistakes are magnified and the results more tragic than in most areas of work.
"When social workers make serious mistakes, they should face the appropriate sanctions, but no-one should lose sight of the fact they are working in an extremely pressurised system, expected to predict every harmful situation, while meeting the ever-growing demands of a target-led profession."