Social services split over Baby P - Telegraph
By Caroline Gammell
Last Updated: 6:28AM GMT 17 Nov 2008
Clive Preece, service manager at Haringey council, allegedly said the toddler - who had been taken away from his mother because of unexplained injuries - should go home despite concerns raised by his colleagues.
Senior social care worker Sylvia Henry claimed the police also believed that Baby P should not go back to his mother, but they were ignored.
The baby had been removed from his mother’s house in Tottenham, north London, in December 2006 after doctors at nearby Whittington Hospital noticed suspicious bruising on his body.
She was arrested on suspicion of child cruelty, but no further action was taken.
He spent five weeks in the care of family friend Angela Godfrey, who lived near his home, before being given back to his mother in January 2007.
Eight months later he was dead, having suffered more than 50 injuries, including a broken spine and eight cracked ribs.
Miss Henry, a team manager at the Tottenham social services office, was “very reluctant” to allow him to be given to Miss Godfrey and had arranged suitable foster care.
In a statement to police investigating the death of Baby P, Miss Henry said she thought of the 25-year-old’s attitude towards the child’s injuries, “My impression of Angela was that she believed the local authority were overreacting and that the explanation for Baby P’s injuries were those of his mother’s - that they were caused by rough play and by his head banging,” she said.
Miss Henry claimed in her statement that Miss Godfrey had asked for a “large sum of money, possibly £320 per week as payment” for looking after Baby P and argued that he should be given back to his mother.
When Mr Preece told Miss Henry that Baby P should go home, she claimed she tried to delay because the police also believed Baby P should remain “out of the care of his mother”.
But because the mother was not going to be prosecuted for child cruelty, Miss Henry said there was nothing she could do.
“Reluctantly it was agreed that with changes to the home environment in place and all the support services in place with the family there were little grounds for Baby P to remain out of the care of his mother,” she told police.
Last week, the boyfriend of Baby P’s mother and her lodger Jason Owen were convicted at the Old Bailey for causing or allowing Baby P’s death. She had already pleaded guilty to the same charge.
The jury never heard about the social workers’ alleged disagreement.
The claims came to light in the Panorama: What Happened to Baby P? which is being screened on BBC One tonight.
The programme claimed there was a fierce clash between police and social services about the care of Baby P when his mother was arrested for a second time on suspicion of child cruelty in June 2007.
A police report said there was “a frank exchange of views” but the police relented and Baby P was returned home again for a final time.
The police also said they were not told about Baby P being admitted to North Middlesex Hospital in April 2007 with a large swelling to his head.
This meant that the Met Police child protection team did not have a full picture of what was going on.
The Panorama programme comes a day after The Sunday Telegraph told how lawyers for Haringey advised just nine days before Baby P’s death that he should not be taken into care.
John Suddaby, head of legal services at Haringey, admitted it was “of concern” that such a decision had been made which is thought to have prompted an emergency meeting for members of Haringey’s Labour Party yesterday.
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