Baby P social worker wins libel compensation

Jan Colley,Press Association
Thursday 01 July 2010 11:43 BST

A Haringey social worker today accepted undisclosed compensation over the authority's false claim that she did not raise concerns about returning Baby P to his mother.

Sylvia Henry brought libel proceedings in London's High Court over a statement posted on the authority's website from November 2008 to April 2009 in response to her version of events which was reported on the BBC website and in an edition of Panorama.

Her solicitor, James Heath, told Mr Justice Eady that it directly contradicted Ms Henry's account of the concerns raised by her from December 2006 to January 2007 - after which she was not involved in the case.

"The allegation that Ms Henry did not raise concerns regarding the return of Peter to his mother is false," he said.

"Furthermore, Haringey Council is happy to confirm that, following an investigation of the role of its employees who dealt with Peter's case, the investigator found that Ms Henry had 'no case to answer'.

"She is not implicated in the mistakes which led to Peter's death. She remains a social worker employed by the London Borough of Haringey and she enjoys the authority's full confidence."

Mr Heath said that Peter was admitted to hospital in December 2006 with suspicious injuries and his case was referred to social services where it was dealt with by Ms Henry among others.

"She wanted Peter placed in professional care. In order to facilitate this she found a foster place for him," he said.

"She made it clear that she did not agree with an alternative proposal that he be placed with a family friend. Regrettably, Ms Henry's view did not prevail."

Mr Heath said that in January 2007, Peter's position was reviewed and Ms Henry did not want him returned to his mother, Tracey Connolly, until further assessments had been made.

She did her best to obtain the necessary authorisation for an application for a care order to be made but was unable to do so and Peter was returned to his family.

From this point, Ms Henry had no further involvement until - following Peter's death in August 2007 - she assisted the police in their investigation and gave a witness statement in support of the prosecution of Connolly, Steven Barker and Jason Owen.

It was part of this witness statement which was quoted in Panorama's What happened to Baby P? in November 2008.

Haringey's counsel, Rupert Butler, told the court that it wished to apologise unreservedly for the hurt and upset caused to Ms Henry by misrepresenting her role in the case and had agreed to compensate her on terms which were confidential.

Ms Henry was not in court for the hearing.

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