Pin-down care worker 'a scapegoat'

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A SENIOR social worker sacked in the wake of the 'pin-down' childcare scandal has won his case for unfair dismissal after claiming that he was used as a scapegoat by his superiors.

Jaime Rodriguez, senior assistant with Staffordshire County Council's social services department, was dismissed last year after implementing the controversial method of controlling youngsters. At the time, Mr Rodriguez was the social worker in charge of 20 children at the Birches Family Centre, one of the county's four children's homes.

He claimed that he was sacked to save the reputations of his chiefs, following harsh criticism of the 'pin- down regime', which involved isolating youngsters, confining them and denying them their usual clothes.

A two-day tribunal hearing in Birmingham yesterday agreed with Mr Rodriguez: 'We find it inconceivable that the reputation of the respondents was not in the minds of the (disciplinary) committee and appeal committee when they made their respective decisions.' The panel added: 'We are satisfied the respondents . . . did not have reasonable grounds for concluding they could no longer have confidence in his judgement.'

The two sides are preparing to discuss a settlement involving either reinstatement or compensation.