BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
    You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 12 June, 2002, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Social worker 'obstructed' Climbie inquiry
Carole Baptiste
Carole Baptiste appeared at court
A court has been told that a senior social worker involved in the case of murdered abuse victim Victoria Climbie refused to help the public inquiry into the child's death.

Carole Baptiste appeared at Camberwell Magistrates Court on Wednesday and was accused of conducting a six-month campaign of "obstruction, obfuscation and non co-operation".

Ms Baptiste, of Clapham, south east London, is the first person to be tried for deliberately breaching an inquiry summons and faces six months in jail and a 1,000 fine.

Prosecutor Brian Altman told the court that Ms Baptiste had brought the patience of inquiry chairman Lord Laming and the inquiry itself to "breaking point".

'Important witness'

"Umpteen warnings of a possible criminal penalty in her failure to help the inquiry were left, and it is regrettable that there was no choice but to proceed with this hearing," he said.

Mr Altman said that as a supervisor to Lisa Arthurworrey, Victoria's social worker, she was regarded by Lord Laming to be "an extremely important witness".

Victoria and her great-aunt Kouao
Kouao systematically abused Victoria

However he said that despite repeated attempts, both directly to Ms Baptiste and through her solicitors, for co-operation, there was none.

Ms Baptiste spoke only once in an angry outburst as Mr Altman recalled how an official had tried to serve her with the summons.

Ms Baptiste shouted: "That is not true," as Mr Altman said she had jumped to her feet and ran to the door after the legal papers were put on her lap.

As she fled the official she allegedly shouted: "You people, I told you before I do not want anything to do with it - you can stop bothering me."

Mr Altman commented: "Her reported words, if true and accurate, indicate that she knew perfectly well what she was being served."

Mental breakdown

Eight-year-old Victoria died in February 2000 after being beaten and starved by her great aunt, Marie Therese Kouao, and her lover, Carl Manning.

She had 128 injuries on her body and had been made to sleep in a freezing bathroom.

The government-appointed inquiry, which is due to report its findings in September, was trying to establish how three local authorities, police and social services failed to save Victoria.

Ms Baptiste, who denies breaching the inquiry summons, eventually attended the inquiry on 15 and 16 January this year.

Her solicitor Peter Herbert told the court that she was unable to attend the inquiry earlier because of a mental breakdown.

He also questioned the public interest in prosecuting Ms Baptiste and whether a solicitor for the inquiry could act as a witness against her.

The case continues.


Click here to go to BBC London Online

Key stories

Background

THE TRIAL

TALKING POINT
See also:

30 May 02 | England
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes