London

Baby P social workers lose case ‎

Peter Connelly
Image caption Peter Connelly died in August 2007 after suffering months of abuse

Two social workers who lost their jobs after the killing of Baby Peter have lost their claim for unfair dismissal.

Peter Connelly died being abused in Haringey, north London, in 2007.

Gillie Christou and Maria Ward argued they were sacked unfairly by Haringey Council after the public outcry about the 17-month-old boy's death.

Dismissing their claim, a tribunal found the authority acted reasonably because of failings in the care they provided, it has emerged.

Baby Peter was found dead in a blood-splattered cot with more than 50 injuries.

His mother Tracey Connelly was jailed after admitting causing or allowing his death.

Her boyfriend Steven Barker and their lodger, Jason Owens, were found guilty at the Old Bailey of the same charge.

Mrs Christou and Ms Ward were sacked after an investigation revealed there was a period in mid-2007 when they did not know where Peter was.

The hearing was told Peter's mother said she had taken her son to visit her sick uncle in Cricklewood, north-west London, despite being told to return home.

'Poor professional judgment'

Ms Ward was also found to have failed to meet a requirement to see Peter at least once a fortnight.

Mrs Christou had argued both she and Ms Ward had been sacked to appease the press and politicians.

She said: "Haringey were wrong to make us scapegoats and to add our names to the list of Tracey Connelly's victims."

The pair admitted failing to ensure Peter was visited regularly enough, failing to keep adequate records and losing contact with the family at one stage.

The employment tribunal panel conceded there "may have been media pressure and those involved had in mind the tragic death".

But it found that "poor professional judgment" was responsible for both sackings.

The panel was ruling on whether Haringey Council was right to dismiss the pair's initial internal appeal against losing their jobs.

The inquiry criticised Haringey Council for its "inadequate" disciplinary proceedings.

But it concluded: "It is not in our view the case that those involved in the appeal panels bowed to the pressure to which we have referred."

A Haringey Council spokesman said: "We're pleased the tribunal found in our favour.

"Ms Ward and Ms Christou were dismissed for gross misconduct because they failed to ensure Baby Peter was visited regularly and lost contact with him at a critical time.

"The judgment vindicates our decision to end their employment with the council."

The union Unison, which supported the two social workers, said it was "disappointed" by the decision.

More on this story