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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 June, 2005, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
Climbie parents back worker move
Lisa Arthurworrey
Ms Arthurworrey was banned by the education secretary
The parents of Victoria Climbie have welcomed the decision to overturn a ban on her social worker being allowed to work with children.

Francis and Berthe Climbie said Lisa Arthurworrey had been made a scapegoat.

Ms Arthurworrey appealed to a tribunal against her ban, imposed after she was sacked by Haringey Council, in London.

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.

Severely criticised

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 was headed by a judge, heard that Haringey social services, in north London, had been chaotic at the time and lacking in leadership and supervision.

The Climbies are calling for action to be taken against senior officers at the council.

In a statement released through the Victoria Climbie Foundation, Victoria's parents said: "The foundation now calls upon the government to punish those senior managers and councillors who were responsible at the time for the chaos that passed for social care in Haringey at the time of Victoria's murder.

"Lisa Arthurworrey was simply a convenient scapegoat for the senior people to hide their failings behind."

The tribunal said Ms Arthurworrey had been inexperienced and lacking in essential training, but the education secretary had failed to prove that she was unsuitable to work with children.

And it dismissed 11 allegations of misconduct against her.

'Victim of failures'

The panel 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 needed to ensure that social service departments were better resourced and supervised, while workers underwent 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 to pursue employment as a social worker again.

Sharon Shoesmith, director of Haringey's children's service, said the tribunal's 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."

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.


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