Anorak News | Baby Peter Connelly: A Shabby Tale Of Self-Serving Politicians, Greedy Tabloids And Orchestrated Care

Baby Peter Connelly: A Shabby Tale Of Self-Serving Politicians, Greedy Tabloids And Orchestrated Care

by | 26th, October 2010

BABY P: Why did Peter Connelly died a horrific and barbaric death? Two detailed serious case reviews, once secret, have been published.

The errors that contributed to Peter Connelly being in the hands of Steven Barker, his brother Jason Owen and Peter’s mother Tracey Connelly.

Peter mother Tracey Connelly named her lover as her next-of-kin on an official form. But the powers that be did not know and not bother to find out that he was living with her.

Injuries to the child could, therefore, be more easily passed off as the result of accidents. But it needs saying that Barker had no previous convictions.

What can be learnt from these reports? That mistakes must not be repeated? Well, why then sack the social workers who failed the child? Are they not now best placed to advise other cases?

Sharon Shoesmith was sacked from her £130,000-a-year job as director of children’s services at Haringey Council in north London in December 2008 for her part in the death of a child. The first report, one she chaired, found “numerous examples of good practice” and that “many factors” contributed to the death.

That seemed less than full. Only it wasn’t that blinkered. Michael Gove, then in opposition, opined:

Anyone reading that document can draw appropriate lessons about how social workers, lawyers, policemen and doctors should do their job better. It is a manual for how to improve children’s services in a case like this.”

The current children’s minister Tim Loughton says the very thing his colleague Gove called brilliant is a “complacent” piece of work, that is “insufficiently critical”.

Funny what being in power can do to your view of things. After Gove spoke, Ed Balls ordered the second review. This time we were told:

“In this case the practice of the majority, both individually and collectively expressed as the culture of safeguarding and child protection at the time, was incompetent and their approach was completely inadequate to meet the challenge presented by the case of child A (Peter).”

So. The system and its officials all failed.

Patrick Butler puts it well:

Today’s headlines tell us that “every agency” involved in the case messed up, which is actually not news to anyone who has taken a close interest in the case over the past two years. It may be a surprise, however, to anyone who had been led to believe by the reports of the Sun newspaper or the actions of former children’s secretary Ed Balls that the blame for the tragedy lay solely at the feet of hapless social workers and the sacked former Haringey children’s director, Sharon Shoesmith.

The Sun’s campaign to sack the social workers and Ed Balls’ mawkish bleating that “as a dad” he was uniquely placed to understand that a child’s torture was wrong all fed a voracious media and its need to make readers feel.

The media and political din served no good purpose. The Sun made a cynical grab for Baby P’s grave. Baby P was owned by the Sun. He was one of them. Forever.

Tragic Baby P was finally given the dignity he deserves yesterday – a headstone from The Sun bearing his name, Peter Connelly. We erected the memorial at Islington and St Pancras Cemetery in North London after a two-year wait.Well, not quite. The Sun has quick to stick a plaques to Baby P in the cemetery.

The Sun’s James Clench held a candle in the cemetery.

“Caring parents and kids from across the UK turned up to pay their respects to the mite whose tortured death social workers failed to stop.”

It would have been Baby P’s third birthday. This was mourn porn. Baby P was emotional totem. And the Sun was tapping in to the feeling, skilfully.

Here was Sara Dee, with her two-year-old daughter. They had travelled up from Colwyn Bay, North Wales. Young Emily was holding a “blue party balloon”.

The Daily Star spotted the “DI SHRINE TO BABY P”.

“A Princess Diana shrine is springing up at the spot where tragic Baby P’s ashes are scattered.”

Sun readers were invited to sign this petition:

“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….

“…I also demand that the doctor involved with Baby P, Sabah Al Zayyat, should lose her job and not be allowed to treat the public again.”

Ed Balls competed with David Cameron to display their caring sides, as dads.

But what actually happens is that on the front line the job just gets more thankless. Balls called social works “unsung heroes”. So. Sing, Balls, Sing. Instead he accused. Later we learnt:

“Children’s Secretary Ed Balls is urging 30,000 former social workers to return to the profession after the Baby P case led to a staffing crisis with almost one in ten post remaining unfilled.”

Everyone has their say and the well-paid experts give lots of sage advice. All agree that it must not happen again – and so long as the hard-pressed social workers can do their job brilliantly, it might not. Problem is that rapists and child killers can be devious bastards. It might just be that the politicians – who often share those obfuscating qualities – should be the ones to do the actual work…

Posted: 26th, October 2010 | In: Key Posts, Reviews Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink