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CLIMBIE SOCIAL WORKER FACES PRISON SENTENCE OVER OBSTRUCTION CHARGE

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The former social worker who failed to attend the inquiry into the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie could f...
The former social worker who failed to attend the inquiry into the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie could face six months in prison and a£1,000 fine.

Camberwell magistrates' court adjourned the case until Tuesday, when a ruling will be made by the district judge.

The judge has been covering the case rather than magistrates because of its complex nature. Carole Baptiste is the first person ever to have been prosecuted for obstructing a public inquiry.

The former team leader at Haringey LBC said she always intended to give evidence, but was unwell at the time of the inquiry.

She was the manager of the Haringey LBC team responsible for Victoria's welfare at the time of her murder. The former social work manager denies obstructing the inquiry, claiming that a mental breakdown stopped her from giving evidence.

The court heard Ms Baptiste, who supervised Victoria's social worker Lisa Arthurworrey, was considered an 'extremely important witness' to the inquiry.

Her barrister said the inquiry had acted wrongly in failing to consider Ms Baptiste's medical reports, which reflected her depressive mental state from 1999 onwards.

A spokesman for the council said: 'The first we heard about her illness was on 20 December 1999. This was also the last day she worked at the council.

'Restructuring had begun at this time and she applied for her job but was unsuccessful. Ms Baptiste was given three month's notice, then formally suspended on 15 February 2000.'

Lord Laming, who chaired the Climbie inquiry into the child's death, instructed solicitors to begin criminal proceedings against the senior social worker, saying she had 'exhausted his patience' after ignoring attempts to get her to appear at the inquiry (LGC, 6 December 2001).

At the time of the original inquiry Lord Laming said: 'She is a very important witness. Her behaviour, to put it mildly, is entirely unacceptable.'

Victoria was beaten, starved and tortured to death by her great aunt, Marie Therese Kouao, and her lover Carl Manning.

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