Exploiting Baby P: Sharon Shoesmith Gets Ed Balls’ Goat And Jeremy Kyle Baits The Underclass
WHO better than Jeremy Kyle, baiter of the poor and slack-jawed, to tell us what we should think of news that Peter Connelly’s mother, Tracey Connelly, has been released from prison?
In Kyle’s hands the story of Peter Connelley is another chance to fix his gaze on the underclass, who have taken a kicking over this exceptional horror. Here’s what few papers said:
The Daily Mail: ‘[Baby P’s death] casts light on a section of society that gives the lie to Labour’s claim that British society is not ‘broken’ – the country’s ever-burgeoning underclass of welfare junkies, drug addicts and single mothers.”
Evening Standard: “Baby P’s background, of which we are now reminded, constitutes an unlovely picture of the British underclass.”
The Times: “The living hell of Britain’s underclass has forced its way into our consciousness several times in the past few weeks.”
NoTW: “…this underclass, this group, of deviants who’ve been allowed to take root in this country and who kill, maim and torture without guilt…this underclass will become even more savage, more feral – and more innocents will die.”
Now the system is wiping its feet on Baby Peter’s grave
Adding without irony:
CAN Baby P ever truly rest in peace while the incompetence and injustice that defined his demise continues?
This is Kyle writing in the Sun, which saw fit to stick its own plaque on Peter’s final resting place.
We’d say that what defined Peter Connelly’s short and brutal life was his mother’s lack of care and her lover Steven Barker and his brother Jason Owen’s vicious assaults on his body and mind. And if you do want to honour the child, Kyle, then at least use his full name.
I am astounded that the head of the organisation that failed Baby P so catastrophically can, in effect, be rewarded for that failure with £600,000 of taxpayer’s cash.
No. She was not rewarded. She was compensated.
What is remarkable is that Sharon Shoesmith was just one part of an industry that monitored Peter, who was on Haringey Council’s at-risk register: in a life lasting just 17 months, he was visited 60 times by the State’s child professionals. Did they all fail? Yes. But it’s just how the system works. This was not the tip of the iceberg. This was an extraordinary cases of depravity. Kyle adds:
If she ran Haringey Children’s Services with anything like the rigour that she ran her campaign for compensation, maybe Baby P could have been spared. Who knows, maybe he’d still be with us.
With us? He never was with us. He was with his weak-minded mother. her Nazi-obsessed boyfriend and his maniac brother.
So while Sharon Shoesmith’s payout sticks in the craw, maybe it’s not so shocking after all.
Alas, it will be paid from council coffers. Hopefully the half-million now to be found won’t expose other kids to the risk Baby P was exposed to as a result. Shoesmith’s payment feels scandalous. How frustrating then that it was prompted by yet more incompetence. The person sacked for incompetence gets megamoney compensation because her sacking was handled incompetently! You couldn’t make it up.
No chief exec will know the minutiae of every case in their department. Nor should they be expected to.
That said, I’d be intrigued to learn just what Shoesmith knew and when… It’s far more likely that the true nature of the unimaginable abuse Baby P suffered never made it to her desk in time.
Shoesmith has not fallen on her sword. She goes forward.
The Express: “EXCLUSIVE Baby P and Daniel Pelka bosses to be star speakers at £360 a head conference.”
Sharon Shoesmith and Colin Green are to appear on the same platform at the London conference entitled, ‘The Baby P legacy five years on: What have we learnt?’ Ms Shoesmith was the director of children’s services at Haringey Council in north London during the time Baby Peter Connelly was being beaten and abused by his mother and two other men. He died of multiple broken bones and other injuries in August 2007. Colin Green was the child protection boss at Coventry City Council when four-year-old Daniel Pelka was murdered by his mother and stepfather in March last year. He retired from Coventry City Council two months ago.
Neither is being paid to speak at the event, which includes leading academics, other child protection experts and journalists.
The event is chaired by Kingston University’s Professor Ray Jones. Says he:
“Sharon Shoesmith was invited because it’s about how the Baby P story was shaped, how it was told and what impact it’s had on individuals and the child protection since… If some terrible tragedy happens, the blame culture means someone has to be blamed for it and they’ve got to lose their jobs and stopped from ever working again with children… We’ve got a continuing hue and cry scapegoating one person and that’s making it difficult to get people working in child protection because they know as soon as something terrible happens, they could be the focus of the next campaign.”
Where does the buck stop? Give everyone one more chance? Isn’t that what the professionals gave Tracey Connelly?
Ed Balls has something to say:
Mr Balls said his decision in 2008 as children’s secretary to remove Sharon Shoesmith from her job had been right.
He told the BBC: “An independent report said there were disastrous failings in Haringey children’s services.
“They said the management was at fault. Sharon Shoesmith was the director of children’s services and so of course it leaves a bad taste in the mouth that the person who was leading that department, and responsible, ends up walking away with, it seems, a large amount of money.”
Juliet Dunlop in The Scotsman:
The size of the pay-out awarded to Sharon Shoesmith, the former head of Haringey children’s services who was sacked in the aftermath of the Baby P affair, “leaves a bad taste in the mouth” according to Ed Balls.
He should know. The shadow chancellor was the Children’s Secretary at the time and the one who fired her – largely to satisfy the court of public opinion – and crucially, without giving her the right of reply.
It was a knee-jerk response; an example of unhelpful ministerial intervention. But back in 2008 Shoesmith had become the villain of the piece; the face of a seemingly incompetent, uncaring system which had presided over a case of unspeakable child cruelty.
A report which claimed that Haringey Council had failed 17-month-old Peter Connelly, who died after months of abuse at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger, was apparently all the evidence Ed Balls needed. Only, the report was flawed and even the most vilified public figures have employment rights. This week Shoesmith was awarded £600,000 in back pay and compensation.
It should not have come as a surprise. The Court of Appeal had already ruled she had been “unfairly scapegoated”; that her removal was “intrinsically unfair and unlawful.” Yet politicians, the Press and the public have been quick to condemn Shoesmith all over again. The former Conservative children’s minister Tim Loughton, described the settlement as a “reward for failure”. The care minister, Norman Lamb, said the figure was “shocking” and “extraordinary”. And Shoesmith herself has been called shameless, greedy and callous.
Certainly, she has never apologised or broken down publicly – both essential in any modern rehabilitation. She remains a hurt, angry figure and yes, a child died on her watch, but she wasn’t cruel or evil or incompetent. Still, she was punished. A Sun petition demanded action and Ed Balls obliged – live on TV.
Can the child rest in peace? Not while the liked of the Sun, Balls and Kyle are exploiting him…