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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
Climbie worker's ban overturned
Lisa Arthurworrey
Ms Arthurworrey was inexperienced at the time of the Climbie case
A social worker who was responsible for the welfare of Victoria Climbie has succeeded in overturning a ban which stopped her working with children.

Lisa Arthurworrey was sacked by Haringey Council, in London, and a ban was imposed after the child's death.

She appealed against the ban and a tribunal has found in her favour.

Victoria, who was eight, died in 2000, malnourished and with 128 scars on her body. Her great aunt and partner are serving life sentences for her murder.

Ms Arthurworrey, the junior social worker responsible for Victoria, was sacked for misconduct in November 2002.

She was severely criticised for failing to spot signs of abuse and the decision to ban her from working with children was taken by the then education secretary Charles Clarke.

I am not a danger to children and this judgment shows that
Lisa Arthurworrey

But the care standards tribunal panel, which heard the appeal, said the education secretary had failed to prove that Ms Arthurworrey was unsuitable to work with children.

The tribunal dismissed 11 allegations of misconduct against her.

It said she had been inexperienced and lacking in essential training at the time of the Climbie case.

The tribunal heard that Haringey social services, in north London, had been chaotic at that time and lacking in leadership and supervision.

'Victim of failures'

The panel, which was headed by a judge, said: "Ms Arthurworrey came over to us in her evidence as a straightforward and caring individual who has fully acknowledged the mistakes she made in connection with this case."

Victoria Climbie suffered horrendous abuse from her carers
Victoria was the victim of one of Britain's worst child abuse cases

And it described her as "another victim of the failures in Haringey".

It said the government needs to ensure that social service departments are better resourced and supervised, while workers undergo more rigorous training.

Ms Arthurworrey told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I am not a danger to children and this judgement shows that.

"I made many and serious mistakes, however it is also true that I was badly let down by my employers.

"Had I been working in a different environment, maybe those mistakes wouldn't have been made."

Council 'surprised'

She said she would now give "careful consideration" as to whether she pursue employment as a social worker again.

Sharon Shoesmith, director of Haringey's children's service, said the decision had left the council "surprised".

"As an organisation, Haringey Council has and continues to accept its responsibility for failings.

"The Laming Inquiry, Haringey Council and an employment tribunal all found serious weaknesses in Ms Arthurworrey's professional conduct.

"When Ms Arthurworrey was allocated Victoria's case she was a fully qualified social worker who had previously worked in another large London borough and had 18 months post-qualification experience."

Frontline staff

The Association of Directors of Social Services said the tribunal's decision was a message for senior managers that they should "know what's happening on the ground".

But president Tony Hunter told Today: "In the councils that are performing well, there isn't a yawning chasm between senior managers and frontline staff."

Ms Arthurworrey was assigned to Victoria's case in August 1999.

Within six months, Victoria was dead with more than 100 injuries.

The child had suffered months of abuse, torture and neglect at the hands of her great aunt Marie Therese Kouao and Kouao's boyfriend Carl Manning.

The pair are now serving life imprisonment for murder.

Lord Laming's public inquiry into Victoria's death found child protection services had missed at least 12 chances to save her life.




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