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Complainant Name:
Fergus Smith

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Daily Mail

Complaint:

Fergus Smith of Children Act Enterprises (CAE) complained that an article which referred to the original overview report commissioned by Haringey’s Safeguarding Children Board into the death of Baby P was inaccurate and misleading. In particular, the complainant – who had co-authored the serious case review – was concerned about the article’s claim that the report had “vindicated” Haringey and represented a “whitewash”. In the complainant’s view, the feedback to the overview was a mix of positive and less positive comments, rather than a “whitewash”. The report extracted as much value as practicable given the general constraints of the process, the scope and terms of reference imposed before CAE’s involvement and other factors. The complainant also said that the article’s online headline suggested that the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, had specifically referred to the serious case review in such terms, which was not the case.

Resolution:

The newspaper argued that it was Sharon Shoesmith, former head of Haringey Council children’s services, who had used the serious case review to ‘vindicate’ her department. It also argued that the use of the term “whitewash” – in circumstances where the report had been deemed to be inadequate – was justified. It did, however, accept that Ed Balls had not used the term “whitewash” and removed the online version of the article as a result.

While the complainant maintained his position, he wished for the matter to be resolved on the basis of the removal of the online article and a statement of his concerns on the PCC website.

Report: 79



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