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Two faces, one smile, one smirk

By Mike Cunningham On May 28th, 2011

As a corporate member of the Grandfather club, I can state that the items I treasure the highest are the sights of the smiles on the faces of my two grandsons. Some of Grandson#1’s smiles come by digital photos, some from real life with Grandson#2, in my home or in his, but by either package, they show an innocent delight in life, they are the very definition of love both given and received. The wearers of those smiles are the very definition of Family, of what life is all about; and they are and should be defended against harm, against evil and against neglect.

Consider the smile, and the short, tortured life of tiny Baby Peter Connelly. Consider the abbreviated list of his injuries, which included:

Eight broken ribs
Snapped spine
Missing fingertips
Missing finger nails and toe nails
Bite marks
Ulcerated infected wounds to his scalp (probably from infected bites)
Bruises all over his body
Injuries to the inside of his mouth
His left earlobe had been torn,

and then consider that his life span was over after seventeen months. It is small wonder that so few photos of little Peter exist, and only one which shows that small defenceless child smiling!


And then consider, if you will, the smirk on the face of Sharon Shoesmith. Whilst not guilty of the torture and murder of that tiny child, she is deeply complicit in his death, because the post she held was specifically created to help counter and remove any possibility of a repeat of the circumstances leading to the death of Victoria Climbiè. In one of the very, very few actions of the Labour Government and its Cabinet Officers of which I approved; Ed Balls, Schools Secretary fired Sharon Shoesmith after the publication of a report into Haringey Social Services actions regarding Peter Connelly’s death. And after a High Court battle which she lost, an Appeal Court action has stated that she was unlawfully dismissed. So if the Government and Haringey lose an appeal to the Supreme Court, she walks free, still smirking.













It is a great pity that little Peter never got the chance to smile properly, but there again, he probably wouldn’t know about clever people like Q.C.s, and lawyers, and Judges who frequently smile all the way to the bank!


34 Responses to “Two faces, one smile, one smirk”

  1. So easy to avoid responsibility, the acceptance of which is part of the job description and the pay grade. Now she is in line for a one million payday!

    Who would have thought that an apparently harmless piece of legislation to protect against the wrongful dismissal of an employee, could be used to pervert the course of justice, albeit indirectly, when used to nullify the penalty for a far more serious crime than that originaly intended.

    Of course those who actully did the dismissing, will say they were old by Ballsy to do it, his instruction apparently in an effort to be seen to do the ‘right thing’, and thus a boost to his political reputation. Shouldn’t both he, and the Haringey panjandrums, have been fully aware of the lesser legislation that might apply to such a knee-jerk decision. Of course, the tax payer will foot the bill, so who cares?

  2. Absoultely agree Ernest. Of course none of this hugely expensive legal circus should ever have been necessary, becaue Sharon Shoesmith should have had the honour and self respect to have resigned. The killing of Baby Peter was not a random unforseen act of unexpected violence. It was the culmination of a brutal short life of a child who was offically under the watch of the Children services dept.of Haringey. If the head of Childrens’ services does not think that the agonising torturous death of a baby under her dept’s care is cause to resign then frankly nothing is.

    Having said that, Ed Balls and Haringey council were definitely right to have sacked her but they should have damned well made sure it was done in a legally watertight fashion.

  3. I don’t kno the facts of this case, sounds awful. I am all for dismissing incompetents who may be in positions of authority in Chld Protection Programs. I am also all for better resources given to such agencies who we usually only pay attention to when something goes wrong.

  4. Sorry guys

    Thanks for writing about something that needs to be written about and diccussed, but I can’t make my self read this.

  5. Good post, Mike. Fully agree.

  6. Phantom, I can understand your feelings.

    Mahons, Given the frequency of such tragedies, and only the more horrific instances are reported in the national press, this goes well beyond any excuses of shortage of funding or personnel. This particular woman was not on a pittance salary, she was very well paid, and even if she wasn’t, she has shown a particular lack of compassion or humanity for her charges. To ignore the evidence of his mistreatment over a long period and as reported to her, can surely only be due to incompetence, it seems things had been going wrong for quite a while, and yet were still ignored.

  7. The simple lesson to be learned here is that if you dismiss someone, it must be within the law. Balls et al ballsed it up. The reasons for the dismissal don’t count.

    Oh and how do you know that she is smirking Mike and not just smiling with relief? Unless you personally know her and her feelings on the issue then it is not possible to say.

  8. Matt

    Whatever the reason for her smile, it was tactless for her to behave like that. This is a case of unremiting sadness and shame and even if she thought she had been wronged and was relieved by the courts decision, she should not have walked out smiling and addressing the press like some victorious celebrity. She should at least have had the humility and decency to know that it would look crass.

  9. Thank you, Johnnie Cochran for a most excellent legalistic response.

    If the glove don’t fit, you must acquit.

  10. Public service is very rewarding.

  11. Not as rewarding as Private profit.

  12. I agree

  13. The law is the law Phantom.

    Oh, and I doubt that OJ would have got off in a UK court. We all know that you can buy a verdict in an American one!

  14. I’m not sure that is even close to being true when you really delve into it.

    The top private guys make the most money, but the best of tehm create great wealth too, and are often accountable in a way that government types rarely are.

    And there is a universe of middle manger drones ( in this country anyway ) who are more secure, and can very often make more money than their private industry counterparts – the counterparts who are the net payers for the whole thing.

  15. Phantom

    My answer was aimed as as a similar silly response to Pete’s sweeping pithy little generalisation. It is myopic and stupid to condemn the very notion of public service just as it is to regard private profit as unremitingly evil and exploitative. Look at each case individually, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  16. Apparently Sharon Shoesmith has said that this case (her appeal for unfair dismissal) has nothing to do with money. If that is the case, she should give any compensation she receives to a childrens’ charity.

  17. Colm –

    You’re just in a bad mood.

    The Sharon Shoesmiths of this world can only become senior managers in the public sector. She is the type of dullard who would be unemployable elsewhere. It’s that seniority which now means she’s about to become a millionaire.

    She hasn’t made anything, sold anything, satisfied a need or brought a product to a customer. She’s a parasite, a leach on the back of a productive class which will now be robbed of a million to give to her.

    Here’s an idea. Ed Balls cocked up, did he? It was his error that led to this decision, yes?

    Well let Ed Balls sell his home to compensate Sharon Shoesmith. I didn’t cock up here. You think my comment was silly? Not when I’m going to work every day to make her a millionaire pal.

  18. Pete

    I’m never in a bad mood :).

    You are right about Sharon Shoesmith, but if she had been competent and effective and had saved the lives of children in danger she would have been worth that million pounds of public money, and would have done so without selling a product to anyone. Someone’s value isn’t just measured in the money they can make.

  19. Colm – the fact that she didn’t says everything about her and the administrative class of which she is a member.

  20. Colm –

    If anyone is “worth” a million quid we’d pay them voluntarily and not at the point of a gun, wouldn’t we?

  21. No we wouldn’t because people are selfish and very often won’t pay, that’s why some services have to be organised collectively by law to ensure a civil society is maintained. Can you guarantee that everyone would voluntarily pay for the protection of other peoples vulnerable children and others ?

  22. You’re walking into a huge blind spot. Beware.

  23. elaborate

  24. Pete assumes that if there was no government organized safety nets or protections that individuals would rise up and create and fund all these things of their own free will.

    Well, no.

    But he really thinks this is true – despite the fact that that this has never been true before, and is not the case in any country now.

    It’s all theory, in its own way similar enough to Communist theory – it works fine on the pages of a book by Marx or Ayn Rand, but it does not translate into real life too well.

    It’s a big blind spot on the part of all these libertarian guys.

    A lean and efficient government governs best. But no government means rule of the jungle by rich people. Which would be bad for all of us, including Pete.

  25. Phantom –

    A lean and efficient government governs best.

    You don’t believe that. Nothing you have said in here suggests you believe it.

    But no government means rule of the jungle by rich people.

    Oh sure. Both here and there, civil society has never been under such sustained attack by the state, we’ve never been taxed so heavily, never been so constrained by laws, the state never so omnipotent.

    How are the rich doing?

    I’ll tell you; they’re doing very well because government is always a tool of the wealthy, powerful, connected and influential against civil society.

    The one thing – the only thing – government ever does well is enable regulatory capture and rent seeking for the powerful and wealthy.

  26. Colm –

    What are you talking about?:

    No we wouldn’t because people are selfish and very often won’t pay, that’s why some services have to be organised collectively by law to ensure a civil society is maintained.

    A “civil society” is maintained? Do you understand what civil society is? It sounds not.

    Look, Baby P was the product and possession of the state.

    His feckless, single mother was the standard bearer of the liberal state, maleducated, paid to produce offspring and housed by the state. Her latest boyfriend, the thug who killed him, was a known violent criminal yet he was allowed to live in that home. The PC drones at the Housing Department who allowed him to move in no doubt did all the diversity awareness training courses. The foreign doctor ticked all the immigration boxes but missed the infant’s broken spine.

    This was a tragedy and catastrophe made by the liberal state and performed by the liberal state, so don’t come in here and tell me we need government to maintain civil society. It’s the state which created the sick world that did him in.

  27. We define lean and efficient in very different ways.

    The society you speak of – where the necessary safeguards are done by voluntary subscription – has never existed.

    I plant my feet in the real world.

  28. The system failed.

    But there was never a time when horrible incidents of abuse did not exist, probably damned similar to this one.

  29. Phantom –

    “The system failed – more system!”

    In fact “the system” did not fail at all. You assume the system is there to protect the vulnerable. Of course it isn’t. Like all bureaucracies, it”s there to perpetuate and enlarge itself. To sustain its life and grow.

    So, after the state allowed a product of the state to kill Baby P, Sharon Shoesmith was sacrificed – for the good of the system. Lessons were learned of course, because lessons are always learned and we have new laws, new regulations, new training courses, new forms, more bureaucratic drones and it’s doubles all round because budgets are bigger and there’s more to do.

    For the parasites, the system works perfectly.

  30. Which is why I overheard a locum GP say in reply to a suggested remedy to a complaint; ‘I cannot do that, I have to protect the system’.

    Perhaps this is the new NHS mantra, – although it does sound very NuLabour in tone…

  31. Very many of the vulnerable are protected by social workers, health care workers, police and the like. It is an entirely untrue libel to say that they do not in the main do good work and that they do not try to always do good work.

    The system deserves much of the criticism that it gets. But when some of the criticism goes into extremist language, the constructive effect is completely lost.

  32. I used to be a social worker and I saved many children from abuse and worse. I suffered violence and intimidation by clients parents. I was disrespected by the public and whilst working 40 cases, 25 of them serious child protection cases I got little support from management who constantly wanted me to de register children from the protection register. I worked really hard made myself ill and in my 20 years of study work and care have a pitiful pension awaiting me in 15 years time whilst I struggle on benefit as I cannot work because of a stroke. Would i do it again. Honestly no.

    However I do repect and condole with my colleagues who day after day have to protect growing numbers of children, with less and less resources. Just to get some perspective most London Boroughs have massive staffing issues because of low pay and terrible conditions. some boroughs have 30% less staff than they need just to perform their statutory child protection duties.

    Was Baby P’s death preventable. Yes. Was Shoesmith responsible Ultimately yes. However the thing is, in my experience of 20 years in the caring service, I am surprised that this sort of thing isn’t happening every day.

  33. Perhaps you should be looking at the more senior personel in the organistions you worked for, and the rather inflated salaries they pay themselves. None of them seem to be going short, do they? They determine how the salary budget is divided, and more for them means less for the footsoldiers. Are they not exactly the same types who you complain of ‘self-interest’ in the private sector?

    Shoesmith was not exactly working for a pittance was she?

    You complain here of the managers who supervised you, did you not complain to them while working? Did you not have a union to represent you in such matters? – or perhaps the union is only interested asking for pay rises.

  34. To be honest social work managers on 100k+ should never be allowed when workers are having to have a case load of 30+. The reality of life in a London Borough is one of fire fighting cases and hoping that you get a break. politicians and senior managers only seem to care about how soon you can get kids off the child protection register and have you filled in your paperwork. Like I said its a recipie for disaster and the fact that there are not more Baby P’s out there is accident rather than design