Climbie parents say council chiefs must face action

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The parents of Victoria Climbie have pleaded for disciplinary action to be taken against the senior managers who were criticised over their daughter's death after five years of "hiding" behind the failings of their subordinates.

The parents of Victoria Climbie have pleaded for disciplinary action to be taken against the senior managers who were criticised over their daughter's death after five years of "hiding" behind the failings of their subordinates.

Francis and Berthe Climbie, who attended almost every day of the six-month public inquiry into Victoria's killing in February 2000, said it was "perverse" that many of the senior staff whose actions were condemned by that inquiry had escaped sanction.

Their appeal came as it was confirmed that Lisa Arthurworrey, the junior social worker in charge of Victoria's case, had been given permission to once more work with children after a tribunal ruled she had not been properly supervised by her managers at Haringey Council, north London. The decision means that none of the people involved in Victoria's care is now banned from working with children.

In a statement, the Climbies said Ms Arthurworrey had been made a scapegoat for the failings of her superiors.

They said: "We now call upon the Government to punish those senior managers and councillors who were responsible for the chaos that passed for social care in Haringey at the time of Victoria's murder.

"Only by this can the public have confidence that those really to blame for the failure to protect children have been made to take responsibility for their wrongdoing."

Despite the damning conclusions of the inquiry led by Lord Laming, who found there had been a "lamentable" catalogue of failures by social workers, police and doctors leading up to Victoria's death, no senior manager at Haringey was sacked or disciplined for their role.

Two leading figures in the local authority, Mary Richardson, the director of social services, and her deputy, Carol Wilson, left their posts within nine months of Victoria's death, but securedsocial services posts in other London boroughs before disciplinary proceedings could be brought against them.

Mrs Richardson is now the director of social services at Hackney council, east London, which last week announced an independent inquiry into its involvement in the case of Child B - an eight-year-old Angolan orphan tortured by three adults who believed she was a witch.

Last month, six Metropolitan Police officers criticised by Lord Laming received reprimands but were allowed to keep their jobs.

The case of Victoria, who had been sent to London from her home in the Ivory Coast to be cared for by her great-aunt, Marie-Therese Kouao, exposed appalling deficiencies in the standards of social services.

The schoolgirl died after months of abuse and starvation by Kouao and her boyfriend, Carl Manning. Manning and Kouao were jailed for life in 2001.

Lord Laming found there had been 12 missed opportunities, including at least two occasions when she was sent home by doctors, to spot the abuse.

Ms Arthurworrey, who suffered a nervous breakdown after Victoria's death, said she felt vindicated at the decision of a care standards tribunal to overturn the 11 findings of misconduct against her.

The finding means her name will be removed from a government register of people banned from working with children, a move which her supporters said had placed her in the same category as paedophiles.

Angella Mairs, Ms Arthurworrey's line manager, won a similar ruling last year after she was also sacked by Haringey.

The care standards tribunal dismissed a claim by the Department for Education and Skills that Ms Arthurworrey should remain on the Protection of Children Act list, saying that she herself was a "victim" of the chaotic management at Haringey. Ms Arthurworrey, who said she would consider continuing her social work career, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I made serious mistakes. However, it is also true that I was badly let down by my employer and had I been working in a different environment maybe those mistakes would not have been made."

Haringey council said it was "surprised" at the tribunal decision, adding that Ms Arthurworrey had been a fully qualified social worker with 18 months' experience when she took over Victoria's case.

Eight professionals who failed to save a young life

MARY RICHARDSON

The director of social services at Haringey council, she left soon after Victoria died for the equivalent post in Hackney. Lord Laming found she must "shoulder the blame for serious lapses in professional practice" in her department. Never faced disciplinary proceedings.

CAROL WILSON

As assistant director of children's services at Haringey, she was in charge of the team dealing with Victoria. Criticised for poor management and not knowing that social workers had too many cases. Never faced disciplinary proceedings.

GURBUX SINGH

The chief executive of Haringey council, he left just before Victoria died. Lord Laming said he should have known about any gap between council policy and practice. Never faced disciplinary proceedings.

PHILIP WHEELER

A detective chief inspector, he was in charge of the police child protection units on Victoria's case. Lord Laming found his "totally ineffective" management allowed officers to make "grave mistakes". Received a formal caution. Still in the force.

ANGELLA MAIRS

The team manager of Lisa Arthurworrey, sacked for gross misconduct. Lord Laming found that she had removed items from Victoria's file, which had been marked "no further action". She won an appeal to be removed from a list banning her from working with children.

CAROLE BAPTISTE

The social worker immediately in charge of Ms Arthurworrey, criticised for extreme incompetence.

KAREN JONES

The police child protection unit officer on Victoria's case is on sick leave. She failed to visit Kouao's flat for fear of catching scabies. Given formal reprimand. Found to have displayed "gross incompetence".

DR RUBY SCHWARTZ

A paediatrician, she decided marks on Victoria's body were due to scabies. Victoria was sent back home to her abusers. Remains in her post. Misconduct charges dropped.

Cahal Milmo and Antonia Asseily