Baby P’s Mum Tracey Connelly Is Free: But Why Did The Sun And David Cameron Let Police Evade Justice?
PETER Connelly’s mother is free from prison. Tracey Connelly is pout of prison six years after the death of her 17-month-old son. The Sun calls her a “beat”. It says he is “evil”. She is the “monster mum”.
Tracey Connelly is said to have had “barely a care in the world as she popped out shopping from her bail hostel”.
She went to a supermarket. The Sun adds the peculiar fact: “She walked into town and nipped into supermarket Aldi, passing Christmas ad posters outside.”
In a story about one fact – let’s get her – the Sun is padding it out with news of things she walked past. And lest you have missed the woman now living in a bail hostel, the Sun finds an “onlooker” to tell readers: “She had a shopping bag on her shoulder and looked like she was really enjoying herself. No one clocked her in the supermarket — in fact they barely gave a second look. They’d no idea they were exchanging glances with one of Britain’s most notorious criminals.”
And then it gets more peculiar. The mentally negligible woman was imprisoned for causing or allowing 17-month-old Peter’s death while she shacked up with lunatics and passed her time browsing filth on the web.
Now she is out in the “sunshine in a North of England city”. Is the Sun saying she should only be allowed outside when it’s not sunny?
After that, the Sun employs no fewer than two writers – JIM CLARKE and NEIL JONES – to appraise her sense of fashion:
She wore trendy glasses and her once greasy jet-black hair had been dyed brunette in a bid to soften her image.
They look a lot like NHS specs to us. And the hair is pulled back in a bun.
Connelly was given a new name but not a new identity after her top-secret release from Durham’s Low Newton jail. She will remain on licence for life and, if she breaches parole, can be returned to prison at any time.
The Sun then reminds us of the details:
Peter’s death — after months of abuse at the hands of stepdad Steven Barker and his brother Jason Owen — shocked Britain. The defenceless mite had suffered 50 injuries, been to hospital several times, and was on the child protection register.
This is, of course, the Sun that called for social workers to be sacked and monstered Haringey social services head Sharon Shoesmith. She was unfairly sacked by the tabloid-compliant Ed Balls, the then children’s minister.
The Sun continues to target social workers, noting:
Professionals including health and social workers made 60 visits to his grim home in Tottenham, North London, before he died.
And police. What about the police? No mention of them in the trusty Sun. Why not? The social workers stuffed up. The medics missed the chance to0 help the child. But what about the police? Why was there no blood on their hands?
In December 2006, Tracey Connelly was arrested after bruises are spotted on the boy’s face and chest by a GP. What did the police do? Private Eye magazine says police failed to take photos and visit the house to photograph the scene. They kept no notes of conversations with the mother. It took them a week to photograph the boy’s injuries.
* The Crown Prosecution Service asked police to get an independent medical review of the toddler’s injuries and a specialist was identified to carry it out. But nothing happened, because the detective in charge was suddenly transferred to another section in the Metropolitan police without formally handing the case over to another officer. This was a clear breach of standard operating procedures.
The case review found:
“The delay in completing the 2006 investigation meant that the CPS, after six months, lost the option to charge an identified perpetrator with common assault … This might have made it more likely that all the subsequent incidents were reported to the police and that arguably the child might have been more effectively safeguarded.”
In April 2007, Peter was back in hospital with more injuries. The next month, Connelly was once more arrested. Police did not speak with Connelly’s older children. They waited so long to take pictures that by the time they did so the marks on Peter had faded.
In June 2007, Stephen Barker’s brother, Jason Owen, came to live in the house. With him is a 15-year-old girl, three large dogs and a couple of snakes.
August 2 2007: Police tell Connelly she will not be prosecuted.
August 3 2007: Peter Connelly is dead.
David Cameron then wrote in the Sun. He wanted the social workers sacked:
“If they failed then they failed, and they shouldn’t be kept on full pay, they shouldn’t be rewarded for that failure. It’s good that some of the people have been named and been suspended but we still have a lot to do to get to the bottom of what really happened and to learn all the lessons.”
His face seems so familiar now, but it is still incredibly moving. More than 1.3million signed The Sun Baby P petition, each name a cry for justice. Yesterday, those cries were answered. The sackings, suspensions, resignations were long overdue.
Thank God the Government answered our call for the independent inquiry that was needed.
Dave and God, speaking with one voice. He and God never mentioned the police failings. Nor did the Sun. Why not? Said Dave:
What have they got to hide? Why can’t the public read the facts in full? What kind of culture puts safeguarding the system before children, protecting bureaucrats before our babies?
Dave and the Sun were speaking were in step. The Sun’s petition stated:
“I believe that ALL the social workers involved in the case of baby P, including Sharon Shoesmith, Maria Ward, Sylvia Henry and Gillie Christou should be sacked and never allowed to work with vulnerable children again….
The Sun did not want any police who failed Peter sacked. None were.
Michael Gove, the shadow children’s secretary, wrote to Haringey council:
“Sharon Shoesmith has been judged unfit to continue in her role by an independent inquiry and the Secretary of State. Despite this, she still continues to draw a salary in excess of £100,000. Taxpayers will want to know why. What is being done to resolve this situation as speedily as possible?”
Taxpayers will want to know why they paid for court case for Shoesmith’s unfair sacking.
Campaigns provide a unique connection to the public especially when the subject matter is of a serious nature. For me, nothing can illustrate this connection better than our recent Baby P campaign. The public outcry was deafening. And we began our fight for justice with a determination to expose the lack of accountability and responsibility for Baby P’s brutal death.
Number of front-page for police to pay: nil.
We delivered 1.5 million signatures to Downing Street and the collective power worked. Children’s Secretary Ed Balls was forced to use emergency legislation to ensure that those responsible were held to account. We received many many thousands of letters at The Sun about our Baby P coverage.
The police played a part. Were they held to account?
I’d like to read you one: ‘I have never been a huge fan of The Sun, however I thank you for the coverage of Baby P. I am so grateful for the campaign. This is not a modern day witch-hunt but a petition for justice. Please, please do not relent.’
But the Sun did relent. Why no police in the frame? (And why no petition from Dave about Brooks?)
In 2010, the Metropolitan Police tried to block an inquest into the child’s death. “The force said it opposed an inquest, arguing that the child’s death had already been the subject of a criminal trial and numerous inquiries. It said child protection had also improved since.”
So. That’s that, then. As you were.