Christou and another v London Borough of
Haringey was a case brought by social workers involved in the
"Baby P" scandal at Haringey council. The social workers
were originally given written warnings regarding their conduct
following the scandal but a new management team was brought in to
review the case and the working practices of the council. The new
management team took a different view of the seriousness of the
conduct of the social workers and undertook a second disciplinary
proceeding against them, which resulted in their dismissal. The
social workers challenged the fairness of their dismissal.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the dismissal was
fair. The EAT found that, when assessing whether the dismissal fell
within the band of reasonable responses which a reasonable employer
would take, the original tribunal had taken account of the first
disciplinary proceedings and the previous warnings given. The EAT
found that the original tribunal had acted appropriately in finding
that the dismissal was fair. It also held that there was no legal
principle which prevented the employer from re-considering a
disciplinary decision, although the circumstances in which a
disciplinary matter could be re-tried would be confined to very
rare circumstances such as this.
Comment: The Baby P scandal led to a
great deal of media pressure on the council and ultimately led to
the removal of the Head of Children's Services, Sharon
Shoesmith, after the first disciplinary proceedings had been taken
against Christou. Following the removal of Sharon Shoesmith, a new
management team was brought on board to review matters at the
council. It is difficult to see any circumstances other than these
very limited ones in which a second disciplinary procedure could be
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