TV 'baby guru' to be questioned by C4 over qualifications

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The Independent Online

A controversial television "baby guru" today faces questioning by Channel 4 after doubts were cast over whether she has really gained the qualifications listed on her CV.

Claire Verity, who featured as an expert on the recent Channel 4 series Bringing Up Baby, will be asked by the broadcaster to explain why various bodies have denied awarding her the qualifications.

The 41-year-old self-styled "Cruella de Vil of the baby world" has already aroused the ire of parents and childcare professionals over the tough techniques she used in the show, including leaving babies outside to get fresh air, restricting cuddles to 10 minutes a day and ignoring crying.

A spokeswoman for Channel 4 said that, because of the half-term holiday last week, this morning would be the first opportunity for the broadcaster to talk to Ms Verity and her management.

"Unfortunately, very early on in the series, we discovered in talking to Claire that [her CV] contained some inaccuracies relating to her qualifications and we immediately took all possible measures to ensure the erroneous information was removed.

"Claire's personal agent sent the channel's press office a corrected list of training. We are now making further inquiries with both Claire and her personal agent about these.

"There could be a perfectly straightforward explanation, or it may be that she has been a naughty girl and has been exaggerating."

The spokeswoman added that Ms Verity's qualifications had never been referred to in the Channel 4 show, in which six new families test-drove three of the most influential childcare manuals of the past century. Ms Verity, who claims a 100 per cent success rate, was chosen as one of three mentors in the programme on the basis of her 24-year experience working in childcare and on the strength of references from parents and from a reputable childcare company, the spokeswoman said. "Maternity nurses, like nannies, are employed on the strength of their experience."

Ms Verity's agent, Cunningham Managemen, states on its website: "Claire is highly qualified with a Diploma in Pre School Practice, awards in OCN Maternity Practice and Post Natal Depression, a MNT in Care of Multiple babies, a MNT in Sleep Training, a MNT in Emergency Paedriatric First Aid and a MNT in Breast Feeding."

But Maternity Nurse Training (MNT) said it had no record of Ms Verity, including under the name of her former husband, the former Yorkshire cricketer Ian Houseman, or Bradley, the name which she is registered under on the electoral roll. Two other organisations listed in Ms Verity's CV, Aset and Goal, also said Ms Verity was not on their databases.

A spokeswoman for MNT said: "This person never enrolled on any of our courses and as such as has never been trained by us. We would like to make it quite clear that we do not in any way endorse the methods employed by Ms Verity in her work."

Ms Verity's strict 1950s-style parenting methods, based on those of Sir Frederic Truby King, have been criticised by parents. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said the Channel 4 show was guilty of "outdated and potentially harmful methods of baby care". This year, she was banned from the baby show at Earl's Court, London, after an internet campaign accused her of child cruelty.

Her management's website also says she has cared for the children of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall, Sting and Trudie Styler, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, the Mittal Family and Claudia Schiffer.