Speaking up for axed ‘teen suicide’ official

Poppy Bracey
Poppy Bracey
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A whistleblower from St Helens told of his relief after helping a sacked social worker win a five-figure payout.

An ex-colleague of claimant “social worker X” claims the worker was made a scapegoat following the death of tragic teen Poppy Bracey in 2010, despite “wider systemic failings”.

Social worker X was subsequently awarded a substantial payout by Wigan Council after the authority agreed to a settlement part-way through an employment tribunal in Manchester.

Whistleblower Ciaran Kennedy, of Eccleston, told how, in early 2010, a referral issued following reports that 13-year-old Poppy had taken a knife into school had wrongly been classed as “urgent” - not “emergency” - and the file then lost.

He said: “According to the guidelines, with an urgent referral it is not necessary to see a child within 24 hours and you must first get parental consent.

“Emergency referrals, on the other hand, must be responded to within 24 hours.

“If it was an emergency, Poppy should have been taken to hospital or to a place of safety there and then.”

Tragic Poppy was found hanged a month later on March 1, 2010. A coroner subsequently ruled that her death was accidental.

But Mr Kennedy said Poppy’s case had been closed on the computer system a week after it had been received - three weeks before the Lowton High School pupil died - and that this action “could not have been taken by social worker X”.

Social worker X, who worked for Wigan’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), was then suspended from duty in January 2011 following an internal hearing.

He faced nine allegations - including failing in his duties and bringing the council into disrepute - and was dismissed for gross misconduct following a disciplinary hearing on October 17, 2011.

In a subsequent appeal, which Mr Kennedy helped prepare, social worker X claimed he had been “unfairly singled out”.

On the second day of the hearing Wigan Council agreed to pay an out of court settlement to social worker X - but without accepting liability.

Wigan Council chief executive Donna Hall said: “We take our responsibilities to protect children and young people incredibly seriously, which is why action was taken against this former employee. The settlement was absolutely not an admission of fault.”

on our behalf. We stand by our decision to dismiss this individual for gross misconduct. His claims against us are unsubstantiated.

“For legal reasons, we are unable to discuss further why we settled in this case. The ex-employee is bound by the same legal restrictions. He has now broken these restrictions and as such we will be seeking legal advice.”