Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Sorry we said you lazy and uncaring in the Baby P case

On 10 June, the Sun published the following apology to Sylvia Henry - a social worker in the Baby P case:

In our campaign to highlight the failings of the authorities to protect Baby P from his killers, we identified staff at Haringey Social Services including one of the social workers Sylvia Henry. It is now clear that Ms Henry was not at fault or to blame in any way for decisions contributing to Baby P's tragic death and should not have been a target of our campaign. She did her best for Baby P. It was also untrue to suggest that she was lazy and uncaring in her work and deserved to be sacked.

Our articles referred to Ms Henry's involvement in the tragic case of Victoria Climbie, a young girl who had been abused and killed by her carers in Haringey some 8 years previously. We accept that Ms Henry's evidence to the Laming inquiry was truthful, and withdraw any suggestion that she lied to avoid criticism. We sincerely apologise to Ms Henry for these untrue allegations and we have agreed to pay her compensation.

The Sun wasn't alone in making these false claims. The BBC explains:

Last year, Ms Henry accepted compensation from Haringey Council after the authority made false claims about her and the Baby Peter case on its website.

And the Guardian points out:

Henry accepted compensation and apologies in 2010 from the London Evening Standard, Daily Mirror and Independent

The Independent's apology referred to one article:

On 12 November 2008 we published an article about the death of Peter Connolly, who was also known as Baby P.

It wrongly alleged that Sylvia Henry, who is a social work Team Manager employed by Haringey Council, had been one of the social workers who had culpably failed to protect Baby P from his guardians and thereby bore a share of responsibility for his suffering and death.

We acknowledge that this was not the case and we apologise to Sylvia Henry.

As did the Mirror's:

On December 2, 2008 we published an article headed "Baby P social workers are still drawing full pay while on suspension" concerning the events which led to the death of Peter Connolly, who was also known as Baby P.

The article alleged that Sylvia Henry, who is a social worker Team Manager employed by Haringey Council, had behaved negligently in her dealings with Peter and had thereby contributed to his suffering and to his death.

These allegations were untrue. We acknowledge that Sylvia Henry was not to blame for the mistakes which contributed to Peter's death and we apologise to her.

We have agreed to compensate Ms Henry for the hurt and upset caused by our article.

According to the Guardian, however, the Sun's claims:

are understood to have been published in about 80 articles and Henry was also named in the Sun's Justice for Baby P campaign, which called for Haringey social services staff it alleged were responsible for Connelly's death to be sacked and barred from any future work with children.


...was accused in articles published in the Sun of being "grossly negligent" in her handling of Peter Connelly's case and that she was "thereby to blame for his appalling abuse and death", the high court heard.

Henry's solicitor, Daniel Taylor, told Mr Justice Eady the newspaper also said she had shown no remorse for these failings and was "shameless and had ducked responsibility for Peter's death".

In a series of articles published over four months from November 2008, the Sun also alleged that Henry was lazy and "had generally shown an uncaring disregard for the safety of children, even in cases where they obviously required urgent protection".

Taylor added:

"The Sun accepts that Ms Henry was not at fault or to blame in any way for anything done by Haringey social services that may have contributed to Peter's terrible abuse and death...

"They accept that she did her very best for Peter and particularly that she made repeated efforts to have him kept safe by being placed in foster care rather than being returned to the care of his mother."

The solicitor for News Group Newspapers, Ben Beabey, said:

"The Sun fully accepts that the claimant played no part and bears no responsibility for the circumstances surrounding the death of Peter Connelly and that she did her best for him. The Sun apologises to Ms Henry."

Septicisle has more on the background to this case, noting:

Henry was one of the five individuals the paper demanded be immediately sacked for having failed to prevent Connelly's death. The paper's campaign continued even after the BBC's Panorama had disclosed that Henry had wanted Connelly taken into care in 2006...

She should never have had to pursue such a lengthy libel action though: if the Sun had bothered to investigate the case anything approaching properly in the first place they would have found, like Panorama, that she had worked conscientiously and with Connelly's best interests at heart throughout.

1 comment:

  1. Once again, journalists can't help but sensationalize and talk absolutely bollocks to sell a paper, hope she got thousands, journalists deserved to be sacked for libel actions like this, it's pathetic.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

Comments are moderated - generally to filter out spam and comments wishing death on people - but other messages will be approved as quickly as possible.