Baby P report author forced to apologise for fresh Haringey council scandal
Paul Gallagher is a reporter for the Independent and Independent on Sunday having joined the group in 2012. He has previously worked for the European Voice, Daily Mirror and the Observer and been based in Brussels, Belfast, Tokyo and London.
Friday 11 October 2013
The man who commissioned second report into the case of Baby P is facing questions tonight over his role as chair of Haringey’s Local Safeguarding Children’s Board after apologising for yet another child abuse case in the London borough.
Graham Badman expressed his “sincere regret” after a boy – named as Child T – suffered months of beatings before he was finally taken into care. The child was brought to hospital at least twice, with more than 50 bruises on his body at one stage, and described being repeatedly assaulted with a belt, a stick and a cable by his Polish parents, a report published on Thursday revealed.
Despite his “extensive injuries”, staff at Labour-controlled Haringey Council allowed Child T to be sent home to suffer more ill-treatment. Doctors, police and social workers were all criticised in the serious case review that also accused the council of “confusion” and “lacking focus”. Haringey also failed to protect Victoria Climbie when the eight-year-old was tortured and murdered 13 years ago by her great-aunt and her boyfriend.
Speaking at the publication of the report into the death of 17-month-old Peter Connelly, also known as Baby P, Mr Badman said the case contained many lessons for child protection agencies around the country. He said in October 2010: “We make it very clear that Peter’s death could have and should have been avoided. There have been significant changes to the way in which Haringey services are conducted. If Peter Connelly is to have any legacy at all it’s that children are safer.”
Haringey politicians said on Friday that was demonstrably not the case as the LSCB announced more changes, including ways to improve communication and information sharing.
Lib Dem Haringey councillor Katherine Reece said the children’s board was just “a talking shop that gets involved with box ticking rather than investigating cases”.
She added: “It is just unbelievable that this has happened again after Baby P. There were numerous failings by numerous agencies and no one is joining the dots.”
Mr Badman’s comments regarding Child T echoed what he said in 2010. Apologising for more failings at Haringey, he said on Thursday: “Peter Connelly died three years before the first detected injuries to Child T. It is worrying to find compelling evidence of individual and systemic failures within and between services so soon after that high-profile case.
“What is clear is that because of failings in the system this child suffered physical abuse that could have been prevented. It would be an oversimplification to describe this case as a series of missed opportunities - they existed but there is more seriously, compelling evidence of individual and systemic failure.”
Child T’s heroin-addicted stepfather was sentenced to four years in prison in October 2011 for wilfully assaulting a young person under the age of 16 and will be deported. The boy’s mother, referred to as Ms B, is understood to have returned to Poland.
The boy, who is now six, was removed from the family home with his three siblings in 2011 – more than a year after the first abuse was noted. They are now in care.
Mr Badman said: “Arguably it is not more change that is needed, but action to ensure that agreed systems are used and their effectiveness monitored and evaluated.”
Local MP Lynne Featherstone said Mr Badman was in danger of “sounding like a broken record”.
She told The Independent: “It’s like Groundhog Day. The children’s board, the council, for all those involved there is a culture of defensiveness in Haringey. They are all seemingly incapable of changing the culture and practices. I’m forever writing to social services [about child cases] but how much can you push when they tell you ‘everything is fine’?
“The cases that make the headlines are just the tip of the iceberg and when I heard about Child T I just felt utter despair. It’s a collective responsibility and the culture at Haringey Council has got to change.”
As well as his role as chair of Haringey’s LSCB, Mr Badman is a trustee of Unicef UK. He also advertises his services via a firm that provides “elite professional speakers on education and children’s services”.
He charges a minimum of £1,200 plus VAT and travel expenses to visit “small groups” and was awarded a CBE in 2008 for services to education.
Mr Badman is a former children’s services director at Kent County Council and left his £171,600 position in November 2008 – the same month newborn baby Tiffany Sellman Burdge was shaken to death by her father after social services missed vital chances to save her.
Responding to Freedom of Information requests in 2010, the council confirmed that Mr Badman was briefed in respect of Tiffany ‘s death and supported the case being referred to the Kent Safeguarding Children’s Board Serious Case Review panel for a full investigation.
The month before he left Kent, Mr Badman also received a cash award for his performance of £17,160 with his local paper reporting that his total golden goodbye [which included his salary for that year] came to £305,000.
Mr Badman was not available to speak to The Independent due to “prior commitments”, a spokesperson for Haringey LSCB said.
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