Baby B social workers still suspended on full pay almost a year later

Three social workers who were suspended on full pay after ignoring warnings about a father who later attacked his baby are still off work 10 months later.

They were suspended after a serious case review examined how Zak Whitlock, 21, was allowed to return to the family home in Wigston despite having a history of mental illness, domestic violence and drug abuse.

He was left alone with his daughter, known as Baby B, despite warnings he could harm her.

Whitlock smashed the seven-week-old’s skull and fractured a rib.

She was left permanently brain damaged and has a severely misshapen head.

The serious case review published last summer unearthed a series of blunders by Leicestershire County Council staff.

Three social workers, including a manager, were suspended.

But almost a year later, disciplinary proceedings have not been concluded and the individuals are still suspended.

Emma Boon, from the Taxpayers’ Alliance said: “Leicestershire County Council should have acted quickly in such a grave case.

“These staff should not still be suspended on full pay a year later.

“It is not in their interest or the public interest. The council could have saved taxpayer’s money by dealing with this case sooner.”

Liberal Democrat opposition leader Simon Galton said: “Three suspended social workers means a bigger workload for the rest of the team and increases the need for expensive agency staff to cover absences.

“I am concerned that this situation has taken so long to resolve.

“I’m aware that we need to get this right and make sure these people get a fair hearing but the length of time it has taken so far does seem excessive.”

The social services department, which has 86 social workers dealing with 350 children, was restructured following the review.

A council spokesman said the disciplinary process was underway. He said: “The council cannot comment on disciplinary hearings that are under way, to avoid prejudicing the process.

“However, we can confirm that the council’s process is for cases to be heard by panels of senior staff, which consider written and oral evidence.

“There is a right of appeal, within a certain time period.”

A council officer, who did not wish to be named, said: “These things are very complicated.

“When people’s livelihoods are on the line you’ve got to be incredibly thorough.”

Whitlock was jailed in February last year after being convicted of grievous bodily harm with intent.

A judge ordered him to serve a minimum of four-and-a-half-years before he can apply for parole.