New inquiry at council over second abuse case

Woman who blew whistle over Baby P says review into Haringey 'too little, too late'
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Indy Politics

A second investigation has been mounted in Haringey amid concerns over the way the council tackled another case of child abuse, it emerged yesterday.

The investigation, which came to light just after the publication of a devastatingly critical report on the council's handling of the Baby P death, is to be conducted by the newly-appointed independent head of the borough's safeguarding board, Graham Badman.

Haringey Council said it would not release any further details of the new review – although such an inquiry is normally only triggered if a child has been seriously harmed. In a statement, it added: "This case review will be conducted by the new independent chair appointed yesterday... It is not connected with the Baby P case." The child in this case is still alive.

Last night, the Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, Lynne Featherstone, said that Haringey residents would be "extremely worried", adding: "At this time, Haringey clearly is not capable of producing a proper serious case review."

The results of the review will be passed on to Ofsted, the children's services watchdog, which revealed yesterday that 38 of the 92 serious case reviews it had investigated nationwide had been carried out inadequately.

The Children's Secretary, Ed Balls, said yesterday that the problems with Haringey's social services provision had impacted "more widely" than just the Baby P case. Mr Balls also ordered the dismissal of Sharon Shoesmith, the council's Director of Children's Services. She was on suspension on full pay from her £100,000-a-year job yesterday – a move criticised by opposition MPs. Haringey Council said it was just carrying out legal requirements and that she would not be returning to her post.

The Haringey whistleblower who wrote to ministers six months before Baby P's death warning them of failings in the council's social services criticised the Government's response yesterday.

Nevres Kemal, a former Haringey social worker, sent a letter to five ministers in February 2007 pleading for a public inquiry into Haringey's child protection services but she received a reply saying that inspectors were happy. However, on Monday those same inspectors at Ofsted delivered a damning report listing 10 separate failures made by Haringey.

"Nothing in Ed Balls' report was new to me," Ms Kemal said yesterday. "It pointed out the exact same things that I had told them about."

She also hit out at Ofsted, which compiled the report, asking why it had only noticed the flaws at Haringey now, and not in earlier inspections in October 2006 or November 2007, when Ofsted inspectors gave Haringey a clean bill of health. "I want to know why these inspectors only found problems at Haringey when they were sent in by a government minister," she said. "If they had did their job properly the first or the second time they would have found all the flaws back then and maybe Baby P might still be alive."

She added: "Despite this report, the Government is still refusing to hold a public inquiry. They say the system is robust but it is obviously not robust enough. Also it is very easy to criticise Haringey, but they seem to have conveniently forgotten that it was the Government I warned back in 2007."