Two social workers lose battle over Baby P firing

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Two of Baby P’s social workers have lost an appeal against an employment tribunal ruling that they were fairly sacked.

Gillie Christou and Maria Ward claimed they were unjustly fired by Haringey Council in north London in response to a public outcry about the little boy’s horrific death.

A Watford employment tribunal panel previously concluded that the local authority acted reasonably in dismissing them because of serious failings in their care of the toddler.

At a brief hearing yesterday at the Employment Appeal Tribunal in central London, at which neither woman appeared, Mr Justice Wilkie announced the pair’s appeal was dismissed.

Speaking after the short hearing, solicitor Riz Majid, representing the women, said they planned to appeal. “Maria Ward and Gillie Christou are disappointed by the result,” she added.

The women’s lawyers previously argued that their case had been bolstered by a landmark Court of Appeal ruling in May last year that Haringey’s children’s services director Sharon Shoesmith was unfairly sacked over the Baby P tragedy.

Mrs Christou and Ms Ward’s legal teams claim they suffered “double jeopardy” because they faced two Haringey misconduct panels looking at the same allegations against them.

The first disciplinary proceedings, overseen by Ms Shoesmith, concluded that they only needed to receive written warnings, but the second resulted in them being fired.

Baby P, now named as Peter Connelly, was just 17 months old when he died in Tottenham, north London, on August 3, 2007. He had suffered more than 50 injuries despite being on the at-risk register and receiving 60 visits from social workers, police and health professionals over eight months.

Ms Ward was Peter’s nominated social worker at Haringey Council from February 2007 until his death, and Mrs Christou was her team manager.

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